Pittosporum too tall

At the back of my property , near a block wall giving on an alley, I had some pittosporum put in, oh maybe 6-7 years ago? They have grown very , very tall - maybe over 20 feet -- practically reaching the phone/elec lines. Will this plant l take judicious topping, so it will become bushier -- more of a privacy screen -- instead of tall & skinny?
The landscaper's chart reads "pittosporum crassifolia", but when I looked it up, it said only 8-10 ft. tall, but this is much more, so I am somewhat confused.
In front of the pittosporum (away from brick wall, toward house) there is Erica, which has also grown much taller than it's "supposed" to. ??
This is So. Calif coastal.
TIA
Persephone
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Higgs Boson wrote:

I don't know about all species of pitosporums but I have grown some specimens of them in a number of situations. In my experience they will take pruning and they will bush out afterwards. Cut them in winter and if watered in spring and you will get a nice show of soft green new leaves. However I don't get too religious about the timing, I do small trims at any time and they cope.
I have had the same problem with trees and shrubs not growing to the advertised size. Part of the problem is sometimes there is a wide variation between the maximum size and the size expected in generally adequate conditions and books may quote one or the other. Also it can be hard to know for a given species if your conditions are merely adequate or better than that.
David
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On 1/6/2010 11:18 AM, Higgs Boson wrote:

I have P. tobira on the side of my house. It will grow above the eaves. About every 4-5 years, I renovate them by cutting them to about 2-3 feet. Even the bare branches will develop new shoots.
I cut mine in the spring. Because we do get some nighttime frosts, I don't want to promote new, tender growth in the winter. As soon as I have finished cutting, I give each plant a generous dose of high-nitrogen fertilizer to push the new shoots.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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OK David, thanks for the info. In my area (SM beach) we don't get frosts, so I'd feel safe cutting back now. I asked at Armstrong and the employee said don't worry if the book says 8-10 feet and yours is more; there's too much variation.
A little surprised about high-nitrogen right after cuttting rather than wait till "spring". Does this mean the plant is really not "dormant" at all? I would want to upset it if it was "resting" -- or DO they "rest"?
Any info on Erica?
TIA
Persephone
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On 1/7/2010 1:07 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

Yes, broadleaf evergreens do have a dormant period in the winter even if they don't lose their leaves. I feed right away because I cut my Pittosporum in the spring. If you cut now, wait until early March before feeding.

I have E. canaliculata 'Boscaweniana', a heath commonly called "Christmas heather" although it's not a true heather. I planted it because my daughter is named Heather, but true heathers will not grow well in Mediterranean climates.
It prefers a lean soil (i.e., low in nutrients); the soil should be acidic and always somewhat moist but never wet. Apparently it does not compete well with other shrubs or trees. I had one in front near where the property line meets the public sidewalk, very near to my neighbor's Italian cypress. My Erica struggled for years. It always bloomed and put out new growth, but it never reached its potential of growing 18 ft high and 10-12 ft wide. Actually, it never got more than 4 ft high and 3 ft wide after some 20 years.
I replaced it with the same variety but in the center of my front lawn. There, it competes only with ground cover -- pink clover (Persicaria capitata). After only two years, the 1 gallon plant is now slightly over 5 ft tall and still growing. It's also in full bloom right now.
Sunset says to shear away spent flowers. However, you should not cut a branch below the last green foliage. As with some other plants (especially some conifers and plants in the mint and salvia family), a bare branch will die.
I strongly recommend that, if you garden west of the Rocky Mountains, you really need Sunset's Western Garden Book, from which I got some of the above information.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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OK, Tx.

Mine is E. canaliculata Rosea.

Whereas my Erica is almost as tall as the Pittosporum, despite years of benign neglect. I need to make it a little LESS bushy, as it is pushing into the lemon tree. I will be careful about pruning per your recommendation to consult Sunset.

I do have it; would help if I'd consult it! Thanks for heads-up
Persephone

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On 1/7/2010 7:57 PM, Higgs Boson wrote [in part]:

E. canaliculata 'Rosea' is just an alternative name for E. canaliculata 'Boscaweniana'. They're really the same.
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Climate: California Mediterranean
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