Ligustrum japonicum- Facts on Growing Japanese Privet

Ligustrum japonicum, Japanese privet, is a tough, evergreen shrub often used as hedges, screening, and topiary. You will find facts and information on growing and caring for Ligustrum japonicum and how to use them in your landscape.

"Ligustrum japonicum"

Japanese privet in bloom

Japanese privet is a tough low-maintenance shrub that grows in Zones 7-10. It may also be referred to as Ligustrum japonica. The shrubs will grow 6-12’ h x 6-8’w. It is extremely tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions. The leaves are opposite, evergreen, with sharp terminal points, and slightly pear-shaped.

White flowers are borne on large terminal panicles, followed by dull black berries that persist most of the year. They are a source of food for birds when other berries or food sources are scarce. This helps it to naturalize but unfortunately disperses the plant and makes it invasive. Also worth mentioning, is the fact that flowers do not have a pleasant scent.

"Japanese Privet"

Closeup of Japanese privet

Landscape Uses

This versatile shrub can be used as a solid hedge for screening or allowed to become a small specimen tree. It is also often used to form topiaries. Hedge clippers can be used to maintain a nicely shaped hedges.

Care of Ligustrum japonicum

Japanese privet is easily transplanted from containers. It prefers sun to part shade and will grow in any soil, except ones that remain constantly wet. Hedge plants should be spaced at least 5’ apart. Water newly planted shrubs until established. You will find that the mature, established shrubs are fairly drought tolerant.

"Ligustrum japonicum Hedges"

Ligustrum japonicum hedge

Young plants can be receive a spring application of plant food to encourage faster growth. Pruning should be done regulary to maintain desired shape and size. This is especially needed if you use Ligustrum japonicum as topiary plants. Regular pruning can be done at any time. For flowers prune just after bloom in early summer.

Propagation:Mature plants propagate themselves prolifically from seeds, which can also be planted in fall. Cuttings will also root easily.

"Ligustrum japonicum Topiary"

Ligustrum topiary in public gardens

Pests and Diseases: Whitefly and sooty mold can become problems if there is too much shade, if shrubs are planted too close, or when there is poor air circulation. If this occurs, try using a soap spray.

Related Species:

In Zones 4-7 plant Amur privet (L. amurense) which has less glossy foliage.

California privet (L. ovalifolium) is a popular semi-evergreen hedge plant that is more heat tolerant.

Common privet (L. vulgare) is a vigorous semi-evergreen with narrow leaves. Its susceptibility to pests has reduced its use.

Golden vicary privet (L. xvicaryi) has yellow leaves and is best used as a specimen rather than a hedge. It is hardy in Zone 5 and may survive in protected sites in Zone 4.


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