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Plant of the Week

May 14, 1988|JUDITH SIMS

Pittosporum Tobira 'Variegata' Variegata

Evergreen shrub

Variegata is the small, shrubby version of Pittosporum Tobira ; it has light-green leaves bordered in creamy white that make any setting look fuller, prettier, more "designed."

Variegata grows to about 5 feet, usually less, and almost as wide, making it the perfect "fill-in" plant under trees or near foundations, where it will cover bare patches of earth. Its bi-color leaves catch the light and bring cheery, shimmery brightness to shadows.

It does well in partial shade and looks particularly handsome when grouped with Nandina domestica and Liriope muscari . Variegata is often used as a hedge, but by itself, in full sun, it is easily overlooked and undervalued, the winking leaves overpowered by glare.

Because of its accommodating, spreading nature, Variegata is a favorite of landscape designers; it is a favorite of homeowners and landscape maintenance crews, because it is drought tolerant and relatively trouble free, except for occasional aphid and scale infestations.

An even smaller tobira, "Wheeler's Dwarf," grows only 2 feet tall, but as yet there is no variety with bi-color leaves.

The larger species plant, Pittosporum tobira , is a popular Southern California ornamental. It grows to 15 feet, with glossy green leaves and sweetly scented flowers that inspired its common name, mock orange. Unfortunately, Variegata did not inherit the citrus perfume.

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