How to Plant and Grow Privet

Enlist this easy-to-grow shrub as a privacy screen or living fence. You'll love its ample foliage, pretty white flowers, and dark-hued berries.

Privet, with its lustrous deep-green foliage, makes a dense privacy hedge or living fence. Some varieties also have golden foliage, while others may be variegated with gray-green mottling or even cream-silver edges. These plants, hardy in Zones 5-9, can be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous depending on where you live and the variety you choose.

In late spring to early summer, fragrant privet flowers—which are tubular and white—accent the attractive foliage and lure pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Privet berries and leaves are toxic to animals and humans.

Privet Overview

Genus Name Ligustrum
Common Name Privet
Plant Type Shrub
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 8 to 20 feet
Width 6 to 8 feet
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold
Season Features Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Fragrance, Low Maintenance
Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Good For Privacy

Where to Plant Privet

These plants grow quickly, and they're not bothered by pollution in urban settings. They're also fairly salt-tolerant. Privet makes a good privacy hedge, but in many areas, they are deciduous and will lose their foliage in the fall. So if you're looking for an evergreen hedge, this is not the plant for you.

Chinese or Japanese privet are non-native species and considered invasive in some parts of North America, including the Southeast.

How and When to Plant Privet

When arranging any plants in a hedge, evaluate your soil conditions, and space them uniformly along the hedgerow. If you have patches of poor soil, amend it and the rest of the area to encourage uniform growth.

Privet Care Tips

Privet will grow in many types of environments and is fairly low-maintenance, though it needs to be monitored for excess growth.


Full sun is ideal for even expansion of your hedge and also yields the most vibrant colors, especially in gold and variegated varieties. But partial sun is suitable, too.

Soil and Water

Privet prefers well-drained, evenly moist soil with a neutral pH. Water new shrubs weekly if there isn't enough rainfall. Older privets are fairly drought-tolerant but need water if there are extended periods without rain.

Temperature and Humidity

Privet will do well in nearly any temperature, including freezing and extreme heat. When it's very hot, they need extra water. Humidity can cause fungi to grow if there's a lot of moisture and there isn't enough air circulation around the plant.


Use a broadleaf shrub fertilizer in the spring and fall. For the amount to use, follow product label directions.


It's best to trim privets after they have flowered and another three or four times throughout the summer. This will encourage the plants to become bushier. Avoid pruning from late summer into fall, as this will result in tender new growth that won't have time to toughen up before winter.

Pests and Problems

Privet may get powdery mildew, leaf spot, or be invaded by pests, but it's a strong plant that can survive these problems. On the other hand, twig blight or anthracnose may be more challenging to fix.

How to Propagate Privet

It's unusual to need to add privet plants once it's in your garden, since it grows vigorously. However, it can be propagated via cuttings. Growing privet from seeds is much more difficult.

Types of Privet

Common Privet

garden patio outdoor blue chair
Dency Kane

Ligustrum vulgare is the hardiest of privets. Deciduous in cold-winter areas, it grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

Golden Vicary Privet

golden vicary privet
Dean Schoeppner

Ligustrum x vicaryi forms a mound of golden foliage that grows 12 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-8

Glossy Privet

Glossy privet Ligustrum lucidum
Denny Schrock

Ligustrum lucidum, a large shrub or small tree, has shiny, dark green leaves. It is an invasive species in some states. Zones 7-10

Japanese Privet

shrub garden brick home
Lynn Karlin

Ligustrum japonicum features glossy, dark green leaves and black berries. It grows 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. (Zones 7-10)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many types of privet are there?

    There are 50 or so species of privet, and many more varieties, so there's one for every type of landscape.

  • How big will privet get?

    Easy-to-grow privet can reach 4 to 15 feet and can spread from 4 to 8 feet.

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