Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinsense) hedge

Privet - Grow Guide

Discover expert advice on growing privet, in this handy guide.

Privet is praised for being the plant that grows anywhere.

A hardy, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub (plants will drop some leaves in a bad winter). White flowers in July and August but as the plant is usually grown as a hedge they are often pruned out. If allowed to flower they're attractive to pollinating insects and are followed by poisonous berries.

A popular, long-lived hedging plant for city, country and coastal gardens. They are fast-growing plants and if clipped create a dense, long-lasting barrier with a mature height and spread of about 4m.

Discover expert advice on how to grow privet, in this guide.

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Planting position

Privet will grow almost anywhere. It's able to cope with sea winds, full sun, partial shade, light, dry and sandy soil. They'll put up with almost anything but a very boggy soil. 

Planting technique

The cheapest way of creating a privet hedge is to buy bare-root plants anytime from November to March.

Prepare the soil by digging in plenty of well-rotted organic matter. Plants are fast-growing and appreciate a good soil and a sprinkling of bonemeal to get them going. Dunk the bare root plants in a bucket of water while working out the spacing. For a long hedge it's often quicker to dig out a planting trench than make individual holes. Plant each plant about 30cm apart and make sure you plant them at the same depth they were on the pot or look for a soil mark on the bare root plants. They won't appreciate being planted too deep. Firm plants in well and water.    

Propagation

These tough plants are very easy to propagate. Simply cut healthy stems about 10cm long from the parent plant on a warm autumn day. In a position of dappled shade loosen the garden soil with a hand fork. Remove the lower leaves from the cuttings. Push about 4cm of the leafless cutting stem into the soil.

By mid-spring in the following year the cuttings should be showing signs of growth. Pot them on or plants them directly out in the garden. 

Troubleshooting

Privet is generally a trouble-free plant. However, wet root rot can be an issue if plants are planted too deep in a very wet soil. Plants will be stunted in growth, leaves turn yellow or they drop. Young hedges may need to be replanted and the soil drainage improved.

It's unlikely that a mature hedge will suffer if it has established itself in the soil.    

Care

Once established all you need to do is to clip your privet hedge in summer using a hedge trimmer or shears. If plants are old or out of shape, they can be cut back into old wood as they will regrow. 

Garden spade

Livestock toxicity

The leaves and berries of privet are poisonous. For this reason, never use privet as a hedge in a garden that runs alongside a livestock field.


Ligustrum ovalifolium
Ligustrum ovalifolium

Privets to grow

  • Ligustrum ovalifolium – dark green, shiny foliage. White flowers in July. Reaches a height of 4m
  • Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ – commonly known as the golden privet. All the same attributes as its plain green relative but lighter green and golden foliage. Reaches 4m
  • Ligustrum vulgare – a native plant. Semi-evergreen. Its berries are favoured by birds and it is often found in a mixed hedge
  • Ligustrum sinensedeciduous species with deep green, glossy leaves. Numerous panicles of sweetly-scented flowers in summer




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