Pittosporum Silver Sheen vs Screenmaster vs James Stirling

While there are many similarities between the three varieties, there are also a few minor differences that may sway you one way or the other.

Featured Image: Pittosporum ‘Silver Sheen’ by Nadiatalent I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

Pittosporums are lovely evergreen shrubs that lend themselves perfectly to hedging.

Although many varieties can grow to a height of around 4 metres, they are easy to maintain to a lower height with regular pruning.

Why grow a pittosporum?

Pittosporum tenuifolium Silver Sheen hedge | Plant varieties
Pittosporum ‘Silver Sheen’ by Nadiatalent I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

Pittosporums are the perfect low-maintenance hedge plant. They just require regular pruning.

Thanks to their dense growth habit and small leaves, they are perfect for use as hedges or any other type of screening plant.

These hardy shrubs prefer well-drained soil but they are fairly adaptable to most soil types except for overly soggy clay or really dry soils.

In addition, they can be grown in most climatic zones around the country but should be protected from heavy frosts while young.

Another benefit of these useful screening plants is that they’re fast growing and relatively easy to trim. Plus, they have very few pest or disease problems.

Key similarities between Silver Sheen, Screenmaster and James Stirling

In Australia, three of the most popular varieties of pittosporums are Silver Sheen, Screenmaster, and James Stirling.

Here are the key similarities between the three varieties:

All are fast-growing

All three varieties of pittosporums are fast-growing. This means that you can create a good hedge or screen fairly quickly with these plants.

Silver Sheen can grow around 60 cm per year, Screenmaster can grow around 1 metre in height per year and the same applies to James Stirling.

All three varieties are low-maintenance 

Except for an annual application of fertiliser and some supplementary watering when conditions are very dry, these three varieties are all very low-maintenance plants.

They do require regular clipping once or twice a year to maintain their height and their shape.

They all originate from New Zealand

All three varieties of pittosporums originate from New Zealand.

All varieties have a shallow root system

Pittosporums in general, have a shallow root system that tends to spread and these three varieties are no exception.

Therefore, they are perfectly safe to grow in most gardens around the country.

Key differences between Silver Sheen, Screenmaster and James Stirling

Pittosporum hedge | Plant varieties

While there are many similarities between the three different varieties, there are also a few minor differences.

Screenmaster has a more vigorous growth rate

Screenmaster is considered a stronger grower with slightly thicker stems than Silver Sheen and James Stirling.

This makes it an extremely tough plant for when you want to grow a screen or hedge as quickly as possible.

Variation in leaf colours

Silver Sheen has leaves that are silvery-green in colour with a lovely sheen in the sunlight.

On the other hand, both Screenmaster and James Stirling have slightly darker green leaves.

However, the leaves on James Stirling can also be slightly silver when seen in the sunlight.

Preferred growing conditions

While James Stirling prefers to grow in full sun, both Silver Sheen and Screenmaster can be grown in a partly shady position.

Maximum growth height

In general, Silver Sheen will grow to a height of around 3 metres, while James Stirling can reach a height of around 4 metres and Screenmaster has the ability to reach a height of around 6 metres.

Making your selection 

Pittosporum tenuifolium | Plant varieties
Pittosporum tenuifolium I Krzysztof Golik I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

As these three varieties of pittosporum are so similar, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for your particular situation.

Here are some suggestions:

If you need to establish a hedge or garden screen fairly quickly, choose Screenmaster for its vigorous growth habit. This variety is also extremely drought-hardy when it’s fully established.

If your growing area is in full sun, then either of the three varieties would be ideal. However, if your growing area does receive some shade during the day, then choose either Silver Sheen or Screenmaster.

If you want a really tall hedge or screen, select Screenmaster as it can reach a height of around 6 metres. For shorter hedges, all three varieties would be ideal because they can be kept to a certain height easily by regular pruning.

You might be interested to learn that James Stirling is an older variety and both Screenmaster and Silver Sheen were cultivated from this variety. All three of these varieties are hybrids created from the species Pittosporum tenuifolium.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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