The common privet (Ligustrum vulgare), the only one indigenous to Europe, is a deciduous plant. The black-green privet (Ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens’) is better suited as a hedge, as its leaves are retained on the plant until the new ones develop in spring. The winter green privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), which originally comes from Japan, is also suitable as a hedge. All privets impress with their flowers, which are very popular with bumblebees, bees and butterflies. A particularly beautiful species is ‘Aureum’, which has leaves that are broadly golden-yellow and sometimes completely yellow.
Of course, the plants should look healthy. But the number of shoots of the individual plants is also important. The more shoots the young plant has, the more densely it grows. That’s what matters to you if you want to raise a hedge. In addition to the number of shoots, the young plants are also distinguished by their size. There are fixed values for how many shoots a privet plant must have before it is sold.
- Privet at a height of 50 to 80 cm, i.e. 2 to 3 years old, must have 3 to 5 shoots. More is not bad, less should not be.
- Privet 100 to 150 cm high, i.e. 4 to 5 years old, should have 6-8-12 strong shoots.
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Privet – care
A privet hedge is completely undemanding, if you disregard the cut. If you have enough space and don’t have to cut, you can also let them grow. Privet is particularly popular with birds. They build their nests in the dense tangle of branches and love the fruit. They represent an important source of food. When planting, as with any hedge, attention must be paid to the planting distance to the neighbors or the street. There are rules that one should adhere to, if only to avoid disputes.
Regarding the location, it should be taken into account that although privet can theoretically get along anywhere, it does not thrive as well in the shade as it does in the sun. Otherwise, privet is frugal and also suitable for urban climates. It’s a sturdy plant that won’t kill that quickly.
- Sunny to partially shaded location
- The hedge quickly gets bald spots in the shade. Shoots only form where light falls.
- Note plant spacing!
Privet can handle any soil, but certain standards should be adhered to. The soil is loosened well and humus and / or ripe compost are mixed in. The weeds are of course to be removed. Otherwise, it is only important that standing moisture does not keep the soil constantly moist. If the soil is completely dry, it is clear that the hedge needs more water.
- Any soil is suitable.
- It should be improved a little with humus or compost.
Privet makes a great hedge if you take a few things into account when planting. It is important to keep the planting distance to the neighbors or to a fence. One thing to consider is how high the hedge should be. Every meter higher means a different distance to the neighboring border.
- Buy bare-root plants from October – they are cheaper than container goods.
- It is best to plant in October
- In principle, planting is possible until April.
- Planting in summer is unfavorable because the privet then needs huge amounts of water.
- In autumn there is simply more rainfall. Then you only need to water when it is dry.
- Water thoroughly before planting, ideally put in a water bucket!
- Use three plants per meter of privet hedge! Plant spacing 30 cm!
- If you want to quickly have the hedge opaque, you have to buy larger plants. If you have time, even small ones do it, they are cheaper.
- The best way to plant hedge is to dig a trench, 40 cm wide and just as deep.
- In order not to plant crookedly, it is best to stretch a string and use it as a guide!
- After planting, it is important to water daily when it is not raining.
Watering and fertilizing
A privet doesn’t like drought. Young plants and freshly planted privet are particularly sensitive. In the first few weeks you should water daily, provided it is not raining. It is fertilized so that the plants maintain their healthy growth.
- Water regularly!
- Horn shavings, coniferous fertilizers or long-term fertilizers are suitable as fertilizers.
- It is fertilized before the shoot in spring and preferably after the cut in June, i.e. always before a growth spurt.
Cutting privet hedge
Cutting the privet hedge is the only real task. Otherwise the plants get along with almost no care. Privet is very cut resistant. Cut branches sprout again shortly afterwards. So if you want to achieve a nice, dense hedge, you have to cut more at the beginning. It gets less over the years. The low hedge must first become dense below before you can devote yourself to the increase in height. Those who do not attach much importance to correctly cut shaped hedge can manage with one cut twice a year, once in early spring and once at the end of September.
Please note: Extensive pruning of trees and hedges is prohibited between March 1st and September 30th. This has to do with the breeding seasons of the birds. Carefully performed shape and care cuts are permitted, provided that consideration is given to breeding birds.
- You start pruning in spring, before the first shoot.
- The end of June is a good time for a second pruning.
- The last cut of the year is made in autumn at the latest. It is not absolutely necessary.
- Many plant connoisseurs omit the autumn pruning, because if young shoots still sprout afterwards, they no longer ripen and are very susceptible to frost. They don’t cut until February.
- For thinner branches, normal pruning shears are sufficient, thicker branches are better cut with ratchet scissors.
- An electric hedge trimmer is useful for large hedges.
- In any case, it is important to have sharp scissors so that there are only smooth interfaces. If it is torn, there are no clean edges and pathogens can penetrate.
- In order to cut straight, a taut cord helps as a guide for long hedges.
- Privet that has become bald usually only needs a vigorous pruning in order to reliably sprout again. The plant needs more light inside.
If you don’t cut too much at the beginning, you will quickly have reached a fairly high hedge, but it doesn’t look good. Especially in the lower area it is very light and sparse. You then have to cut far down again. It is better to cut hard right from the start and pay attention to the density right away!
Privet hedges are sufficiently hardy. Unlike the not hardy exotic privet plants, which are usually grown in pots because they are sensitive to frost, they do not need any protection. In very cold winters, the evergreen privet may lose a lot of leaves, but in spring they will sprout reliably again. The leaves stay on in mild or normal winters.
If you want to grow your privet hedge yourself, you can do that very easily. You need a plant from which cuttings can be cut. You can buy a privet or you can use the trash from a neighbor’s hedge cut. Cuttings are ideal for propagation and there are plenty of them when cutting. However, the minimum length is 20 cm. Longer cuttings are better. These countersinks can also be shortened a little so that they branch out better.
- Remove the bottom leaves, only leave the top ones on!
- Put cuttings in water!
- They are covered with foil and over time they will form roots.
- As a rule, they can be planted outside in autumn.
- Early taper cuts encourage further rapid branching.
- Lumber growth is also possible. Lignified branches are simply stuck into the ground in late summer. With sufficient irrigation, they take root reliably.
- Another option is to multiply by subscribers.
Diseases and pests
Privet hedges are very robust and hardly susceptible to disease. They usually get very old. The plants also get along well with pests. Only the black weevil can cause damage, which is only of an optical nature. You hardly have to worry about that.
- Single or multiple rolled up leaves in the spring usually indicate the privet aphid.
- The leaves are curled down towards the midrib.
- Affected leaves wither and fall off.
- Usually, these pests don’t do much harm. But if they multiply explosively, you should use pesticides.
Privet hedges look good, are very easy to care for except for the cut and are not susceptible to diseases and pests. However, I keep hearing and reading that other gardeners have problems with their plants, both with pests and diseases. When questioning more closely, it usually comes out that the location is not really ideal, that it is not irrigated and that the pruning is not carried out regularly. Only good care ensures healthy plants. If they get sick, pruning often helps with privet. The privacy screen may then be gone for a while, but the hedge will survive. That’s also worth something.