Silver Sheen VS Podacarpus VS Purple Hop Bush

Gardening Question From Maria:

Hi, I live in Irvine, CA, and I am looking for replacement for privacy hedge/trees for our two 20 foot Camphor trees. Unfortunately, the Camphors had grown too big and lifting our concrete and messing up our pipes. The trees will be right by our main patio area so I prefer them to be clean, tall and skinny. The planter box is 15′ long (on property line) and about 2-4′ deep. To match the Melaleuca and Silver Sheen on the property, I am looking for a more whispy look instead of a formal hedge. My top candidates are: 1) Pittosporum “Silver Sheen” or “Silver Magic” or tallest variety suggestion – can these trees be trimmed so that they can look like a row of white birch but will I have enough leaves on top for privacy? My 7 year old Silver Sheens looks pretty thin right now but not sure if being on a steep hill and the drought didn’t help.

2) Podocarpus (Fern Pine) – I’ve seen this tree replace lots of our local shopping center parking lot trees but they are primarily shaped as a tree with all the lower branches cut out. I am wondering if they can be trained as a multi-trunk tree or leave the bottom branches on like a douglas fir xmas tree.
3) Purple Hop Bush – not sure of height, messy?, dense enough?

Thanks for your help 🙂

Silver Sheen pittosporum photo

Photo by wallygrom

Answer From Pat:

Silver Sheen pittosporum is suffering in some areas from root rot or vector-born disease causing sudden death to some specimens. I think one of the best hedges or privacy screens available is Podocarpus gracilior, but please be aware there is a trick to this: Seed-grown podocarpus grow to be a full size tree. Be very very sure to purchase cutting grown plants for a hedge, NOT seed grown.


Photo by briweldon


  1. Paul Bongiardina

    I planted a pomegranate tree several years ago , the second year it produced two small fruits , and they a nice red color and sweet ,ever since I get lots of fruit but on the inside they are white and kind of dry looking . Any ideas ??? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated

    • Several other writers have asked me the same or similar questions. Unfortunately the problems you are facing with your pomegranate tree are the result of global warming which is causing climate change and erratic swings in temperature. There is really nothing you can do about it.

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