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 Overview

Description Privet, with its lustrous deep-green foliage, makes a dense privacy hedge or living fence. These plants can be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous depending on where you live and the variety you choose. They are easy to grow and can reach 4 to 15 feet and can spread from 4 to 8 feet. But beware: They can be invasive in some areas, like the Southeast. More than just a foliage plant, privet will also flower with white blooms in late spring to early summer. Their honey-scented white flowers will give way to attractive black berries that birds love. (The berries are toxic to humans.)
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

Colorful Combinations

Privet features small oval leaves in a glossy green color that give the plant a dense shrub look. Some varieties also have golden foliage, while others may be variegated with gray-green mottling or even cream-silver edges. In late spring to early summer, fragrant privet flowers—which are tubular and white—accent the attractive foliage and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. (Keep in mind, shrubs that are pruned often probably won't bloom because the buds will be removed during maintenance.) Black privet berries will crop up in the fall, but don't be tempted to try them: They're toxic to humans.

Privet Care Must-Knows

When arranging any plants in a hedge, evaluate your soil conditions, and make sure to 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. Privets prefer well-drained, evenly moist soil. 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.

These plants grow quickly and can tolerate heavy pruning. They are not bothered by pollution in urban settings and are also fairly salt-tolerant. Plant with caution as they can be invasive in many areas of North America. Consider this, too: In many areas privets are deciduous and will lose their foliage in the fall. If you are looking for an evergreen hedge, this is not the plant for you.

Pruning

It's best to trim privets after they have flowered and another 3 to 4 times over the course of the summer. This will encourage the plants to become bushier, helping you avoid a sparse hedge. 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.

More Varieties of Privet

01 of 04

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)

02 of 04

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)

03 of 04

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)

04 of 04

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)

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