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.)
The small oval leaves of privets grow in a glossy green color and form a dense shrub look. Some varieties of privet have golden foliage as well, and others may be variegated with gray-green mottling or even cream-silver edges. Along with their attractive foliage, privets will bloom with fragrant, tubular, white flowers in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. (Shrubs that are pruned often likely won't bloom because the flower buds will be removed during maintenance.)
Privet Care Must-Knows
When planting 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 so you'll see uniform growth. Privets prefer well-drained, evenly moist soil that doesn't stay too wet. Plant them in partial to full sun: Full sun is best for even, uniform growth and the most vibrant colors, especially in gold and variegated varieties.
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. Keep in mind that 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 for you.
In order to keep a manageable habit for these plants, privets are generally trimmed after they have flowered and then up to 3-4 times during the course of summer. This will encourage plants to become bushier and fill in better when they are pruned more frequently. Try to avoid pruning in late summer into fall, as this will encourage tender new growth that will not have time to harden off before winter.
More Varieties of Privet
Ligustrum vulgare is the hardiest of privets. Deciduous in cold-winter areas, it grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8
Ligustrum lucidum, a large shrub or small tree, has shiny, dark green leaves. It is an invasive species in some states. Zones 7-10