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Ligustrum - Growing Guide
Ligustrum - Introduction
Privets are some of the most commonly used hedging plants in UK towns and villages. However, there are other species and varieties which do make interesting and attractive shrubs, and even trees, in herbaceous and woodland gardens. All privets are totally hardy and not at all fussed by poor soils. Even the hedging privets do have copious flowers that are attractive to bees and insects but do not smell terribly nice. The principal species we stock originate from Japan and China.
L. confusum is a conspicuous small tree or large shrub with attractive grey bark. The leaves are 4-6” long and hang down from the branches in maturity. This is an evergreen with large panicles of flowers in June and July followed by copious quantities of round black berries which germinate quickly if sown in the autumn. Caerhays and Exbury gardens have specimen trees up to 30ft in height of this species which may sucker where the roots are exposed on the surface of the soil.
L. japonicum ‘Rotundifolium’ is a totally different sort of privet. It grows to only around 5ft in height and is slow growing and stiffy branched with rounded leathery leaves.
L. lucidum, Chinese privet, is another species which will grow into a 30ft tall evergreen tree in maturity. It has very recognisable ovate or oval glossy dark green leaves up to 6in long. The white panicles of flowers appear in late summer and are followed by blue-black fruits.
L. ovalifolium, if left unchecked and not clipped into a neat hedge, would grow to around 12ft tall with a similar spread. This privet is semi evergreen and will keep more of its leaves in a mild winter than a cold one. You will often find that, in a hedge, some plants are rather more deciduous than others. Once established as a hedge pruning is necessary twice a year with a gentle tapering towards the top of the hedge so that you leave enough light for the lower branches to thrive rather than dying off and leaving gaps or holes in your hedge. Privet hedges are pretty indestructible and will live for years if properly clipped. The second clipping is best left until flowering has finished in the summer and before a second set of new growth appears.
We also stock L. ovalifolium ‘Argenteum’ and ‘Aureum’ which have cream edged and golden variegated leaves. A plant or two of these varieties can liven up a privet hedge but they make perfectly good hedges in their own right.