A large shrub to use in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8b and warmer, the Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) grows slowly. The tiny clusters of white flowers on branch tips release a fragrance akin to orange blossoms.
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Expect between 1 and 4 inches of new growth annually on branch tips on a Japanese pittosporum. Faster growth occurs in sunny spots in moist, well-drained sandy soils with organic matter. Low light levels and drier soils decrease the growth rate.
Variegated leaf forms of the Japanese pittosporum grow at a slower rate than selections with entirely green foliage. There is considerable difference in the mature size of the cultivars, as many on the market are compact. Based on their genetics, these compact-habit plants max out at 2 to 3 feet, so they will maintain their size and not seem to grow anymore.
Although salt and drought tolerant, this shrub's appearance suffers under these conditions if soil moisture is low. Floridata.com notes that aphids on leaf undersides are a common pest problem and, if not controlled, deprives the plant of energy that normally sustains the leaves.