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Common Privet

The Ultimate Guide to Growing and Caring for Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) Plants


Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) is a deciduous shrub that is native to Europe and Asia. It is widely used in hedges, as a privacy screen, and as a foundation plant. It is easy to grow, low maintenance, and adapts well to different soil types and climates. This plant has glossy, dark green leaves and white flowers that bloom in the late spring to early summer. The berries that follow are black and poisonous to humans, but birds love them.

This article will provide a full guide on how to care for common privet, including its growth habits, preferred growing conditions, pruning requirements, propagation methods, common pests and diseases, and uses in the landscape.

Growth Habits

Common privet is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It has a dense, rounded crown that can be pruned to maintain a smaller size. The leaves are opposite, ovate to oblong in shape, and measure 1-2 inches long. They are dark green and glossy on top and pale green on the underside. The fragrant, white flowers bloom in clusters in late spring to early summer, followed by black berries that ripen in the fall.

Preferred Growing Conditions

Common privet is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. It can tolerate a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand, but it prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 8.0. It is drought tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering during periods of prolonged drought.

Pruning Requirements

Common privet is a fast-growing shrub that responds well to pruning. It can be pruned at any time of the year, but the best time is in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning should be done to maintain the desired size and shape of the shrub and to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood.

Propagation Methods

Common privet can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, or layering. Seeds should be sown in the fall or stratified before sowing in the spring. Cuttings should be taken in the late summer or early fall and rooted in a well-draining potting mix. Layering involves bending a low-growing branch to the ground and burying it under soil. Once roots have formed, the new plant can be severed from the parent plant and transplanted.

Common Pests and Diseases

Common privet is relatively pest and disease resistant, but it is susceptible to a few common problems. The most common pests that affect privet are aphids, spider mites, and scales. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. The most common diseases that affect privet are powdery mildew and leaf spot. These diseases can be prevented by providing good air circulation around the plant and avoiding overhead watering.

Uses in the Landscape

Common privet is a popular choice for hedges, privacy screens, and foundation plantings. It can be used as a specimen plant in a mixed border or as a backdrop for smaller shrubs and perennials. It can also be trained into a small tree form with a single trunk and a rounded canopy. The fragrant flowers attract bees and other pollinators, and the berries provide food for birds in the fall.


Common privet is a versatile and easy-to-grow shrub that is widely used in landscaping. It is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions and is relatively pest and disease resistant. It can be pruned to maintain a smaller size and shape and can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, or layering.

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