Sunday, 21 June 2015

Try growing: Orange Thorn as a native shrub or hedge

We put a few Orange Thorns (Pittosporum multiflorum) in our garden, hoping that they would eventually provide shelter and habitat for the small birds that live in the area. Orange Thorns are reputed to be fairly slow growing, so we didn't expect much. But after three years or so, several of our plants have achieved a respectable height of about a metre and are starting to flower and fruit. 
This is one of the best-performing Orange
Thorns in our garden, about 1m tall after 
just over three years in the ground.

This plant has also been in for three years,
but it is competing with a hungry She-oak
and other plants, and is about 60cm tall. 
Our Orange Thorns are growing in part shade under a canopy of Blackbutt and Flametree. They get more sun than they would in the rainforest, and this probably explains why they are growing so quickly. On the down side, their gorgeous orange fruits tend to appear behind the foliage and are difficult to see. We're hoping that with a few more years in the ground, prolific fruit will be visible all over the plants. 
This Orange Thorn is growing in heavy
shade in rainforest on Mount Keira. It has
much sparser foliage than our plants but
the orange fruits are clearly visible. 
Our Orange Thorns will eventually be part of a mixed screen around 2m tall. They could be pruned into a neat hedge or used for topiary, although that's not the look we are going for. As one of the few shrubs that will grow in heavy shade (as well as part shade and full sun), they are a very useful component in local native Illawarra gardens.

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