The Complete Guide for Chinese Pistachio (Pistacia Chinensis) Care

The Chinese Pistachio, otherwise known as the Pistacia Chinensis or Cape Leadwort, Cape Plumbago, Leaderwort, Pumbago du Cap, Plumbago capensis, is a rather well known climber plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this climber will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Chinese Pistachio is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Chinese Pistachio Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

In order to take proper care of your Chinese Pistachio you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Chinese Pistachio grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.
  • Light: Keep your Pistacia Chinensis in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Chinese Pistachio in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, chalk, and loam.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Chinese Pistachio this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Pistacia chinensis care

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Chinese Pistachio belongs to the Plumbaginaceae family, the genus Plumbago and the species Auriculata, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Pistacia Chinensis (pis-TAY-shi-a chi-NEN-sis).

As with other Plumbago’s, the Chinese Pistachio is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Chinese Pistachio is a plant native to the Mozambique to South Africa.

Knowing your plant’s native region is very useful, as it can give you tips on which environment is best for your Chinese Pistachio. If you keep it in mind, you can try to replicate these conditions at home, and you’ll likely end with a healthier plant.

With this in mind, the Pistacia Chinensis will be most used to the heat zones in the 10 – 11 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a and the ideal climate zone is between 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Chinese Pistachio is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, how big does the Chinese Pistachio actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…

The Pistacia Chinensis can grow up to 6′ – 10′ (180cm – 3m) in 6′ – 10′ (180cm – 3m) and 8′ – 10′ (240cm – 3m) in 8′ – 10′ (240cm – 3m). 

These dimensions make the Chinese Pistachio a relatively large climber compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful spreading shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 48″ – 72″ (120cm – 180cm) free so the Chinese Pistachio can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Chinese Pistachio is a fairly simple plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Pistacia Chinensis grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Pistacia chinensis plants


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Chinese Pistachio in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Chinese Pistachio then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Chinese Pistachio needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Chinese Pistachio prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, chalk, and loam.

This is why most experts agree that the Chinese Pistachio requires soil with sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Chinese Pistachio requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this climber will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Pistacia Chinensis in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Chinese Pistachio will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Chinese Pistachio to flower around the spring, summer, fall and in the winter months from April to June (spring), from July to September (summer), from October to December (fall) and from January to March (winter).

The Chinese Pistachio produces some beautiful green, or pink, blue and white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Chinese Pistachio have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Pistacia Chinensis to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

Pistacia chinensis up close

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Chinese Pistachio is well known for its tolerance to drought and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Pistacia Chinensis will be fine.


Does your Chinese Pistachio have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Pistacia Chinensis owners agree that this climber will look great in most mediterranean gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of city and courtyard, and in mediterranean garden styles. 

In particular, the Chinese Pistachio’s best location within your garden is in patio and containers, beds and borders, ground covers, and in wall-side borders, others use it for landscaping in a coastal exposure, or a firescaping/fire wise.

Companion Plants

Chinese Pistachio’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Ceratonia siliqua, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Cinnamomum camphora will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Chinese Pistachio in your garden or home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

Recent Posts