Kohuhu Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
tawhiwhi 'Tom Thumb'


The plant known as 'Tom Thumb' is a cultivar of Pittosporum with distinctive foliage that sets it apart as an ornamental garden choice. Its leaves are small and wavy, providing a textural visual interest. The plant's most striking feature is the leaf coloration – starting out as light green when young and maturing into a deep, dark purple that borders on black, giving it a dramatic and attractive appearance. These dark leaves present a dense, rounded form and are held on thin, black stems, which create a nice contrast with the glossy foliage. Notably, 'Tom Thumb' blooms with little to no significance; the appeal of this attractive shrub lies primarily in its year-round leaf color, which can also appear almost bronze in some lighting conditions. This bushy plant is often used for low hedging or as an individual specimen in gardens due to its unique and colorful foliage.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Tom Thumb, Black Matipo, Purple Pittosporum

    • Common names

      Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Height

      3 feet (0.91 meters)

    • Spread

      3 feet (0.91 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      New Zealand


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Adds aesthetic appeal to gardens with its purple-black foliage.
    • Compact Size: Suitable for small gardens or spaces where a full-sized shrub would be too large.
    • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal care once established, making it ideal for busy gardeners.
    • Drought Tolerance: Can survive with little water, reducing the need for frequent irrigation.
    • Privacy Screen: Dense growth habit makes it useful for creating privacy or as a hedge.
    • Versatility: Can be planted in containers, borders, or as a standalone specimen.
    • Wildlife Attraction: Although not specifically known for attracting wildlife, it can provide shelter for small birds and insects.
    • Seasonal Interest: Its evergreen nature ensures year-round garden interest.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Pittosporum 'Tom Thumb' can be used as a dark-foliage contrast in floral arrangements, adding depth and interest to the composition.
    • In photography and staging, its dense, deep purple leaves provide a rich backdrop that highlights lighter-colored subjects.
    • As a model-making material, small branches can mimic larger trees in architectural models or dioramas due to their scale-like appearance.
    • During festive seasons, branches can be incorporated into wreaths or decorations for a unique, textured addition.
    • The plant can be used in topiary forms to create garden sculptures and living art pieces due to its easy shaping qualities.
    • Its dense foliage provides a natural privacy screen or hedge in urban gardens, offering seclusion with aesthetic appeal.
    • In textile design, the distinctive leaf shape and color can inspire patterns for fabrics, wallpapers, and other decorative elements.
    • For culinary presentation, its leaves can be used as a natural garnish base for cheese boards or appetizer platters.
    • The wood, when dried, might be used for crafting small objects like buttons or jewelry, although this is not a common application.
    • Its quiet and unobtrusive growth habit makes it an ideal plant for contemplative garden spaces designed for meditation and relaxation.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Pittosporum is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Pittosporum is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: Pittosporum, or 'Tom Thumb', can adapt to a variety of conditions, symbolizing the ability to endure and thrive in diverse environments.
    • Protection: The dense foliage of 'Tom Thumb' offers shelter to birds and small animals, symbolizing safety and refuge.
    • Growth: This plant has a natural propensity to grow and flourish, which can symbolize personal or professional development.
    • Boundary: Often used as a hedge, 'Tom Thumb' can symbolize setting healthy boundaries in one's life.
    • Contrast: The distinctive purple-bronze foliage of 'Tom Thumb' stands out against greenery, symbolizing uniqueness or non-conformity.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Late Winter-Early Spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' should be watered deeply, allowing the soil to become moderately dry between waterings. Water it every one to two weeks, adjusting for weather conditions. During hot or dry spells, watering might be needed more frequently to ensure the soil doesn't dry out completely. Aim to provide about 1 gallon of water for mature plants each time you water. Younger plants may need water in smaller amounts, such as half a gallon, to avoid overwatering and root rot.

  • sunLight

    Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' thrives in full sun to partial shade. It is best placed in a location where it can receive at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Morning sunlight is beneficial, with some protection from the intense afternoon sun, especially in hotter climates. The ideal spot will have bright, indirect light for the remainder of the day.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' prefers a moderate temperature range and can tolerate conditions between 50°F and 80°F. It is hardy and can survive minimum temperatures down to around 20°F once established. The ideal temperature for this plant is a consistent range between 60°F and 70°F.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' helps maintain its shape and encourages dense growth. Prune lightly in late winter or early spring, before new growth starts. This can be done annually or as needed to remove any dead or damaged branches. The best time for more extensive shaping is after the plant has finished its main flush of growth in early summer.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' thrives in well-draining, slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. A mix of peat, pine bark, and coarse sand or perlite is ideal to ensure proper drainage and aeration. Regularly enriched with organic matter, this soil mixture will support the vigorous growth of this attractive shrub.

  • plantRepotting

    Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' should be repotted every 2 to 3 years to prevent rootbound conditions and to refresh the soil. Best repotted in spring before the onset of the growing season, careful handling of the root system will minimize stress and encourage healthy growth.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Kohuhu 'Tom Thumb' prefers moderate humidity levels, typical of its native New Zealand environment. Aim for a relative humidity range of 40-60% for optimal growth, as excessively dry air may lead to leaf desiccation and stress on the plant.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright, indirect light and well-draining soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-drained soil, partial to full sun exposure.

    • Hardiness zone

      8-10 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life cycle of the Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb', commonly known as Kohuhu or 'Tom Thumb' Pittosporum, begins with germination, which occurs when its small, viable seeds encounter appropriate soil and climatic conditions, including sufficient warmth and moisture. Following germination, the seedling emerges and develops true leaves, evolving into a young plant that gradually matures over several years into an adult shrub. In its adult stage, 'Tom Thumb' Pittosporum produces small, inconspicuous, honey-scented flowers, typically in late spring to summer, which are pollinated by insects. After successful pollination, the flowers develop into small seed capsules, which eventually open to release seeds for the next generation. Over time, the woody shrub can reach up to around 1 meter in height, with distinctive purple-black foliage, and it may require pruning to maintain shape and encourage bushier growth. The lifecycle continues as long as conditions remain favorable, but as with any plant, the 'Tom Thumb' Pittosporum will eventually age and experience senescence, leading to the end of its lifecycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late Winter-Early Spring

    • The Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb', commonly known as Kohuhu or Tawhiwhi, is typically propagated in late winter to early spring before new growth begins. The most popular method of propagation for this shrub is through semi-hardwood cuttings. To propagate by semi-hardwood cuttings, take a cutting of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long from a healthy, disease-free part of the plant, ensuring that it contains several leaves. The bottom end of the cutting should be dipped in rooting hormone to increase the likelihood of successful rooting. Then, the cutting is placed in a well-draining potting mix, with about half the length of the cutting buried in the soil. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged, and the cutting should be placed in a warm, indirect light location until roots have developed, which typically takes several weeks. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted into a larger container or directly into the garden.