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Privet is a common term used to describe evergreen shrubs within the Ligustrum genus. These attractive and vigorous shrubs are often pruned and shaped into hedges or natural privacy screens for home landscapes. With the proper care, a privet shrub can add a touch of elegant natural beauty to your home landscape for many decades. Most Ligustrum cultivars grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, though select Ligustrum cultivars may be hardy down to zone 3.
Water recently planted privet hedges regularly to keep their soil evenly moist until they are established. Once established, provide your privet hedge with at least 1 inch of water per week during hot, dry periods in the spring, summer and fall.
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Fertilize your privet hedge in the spring and early fall to ensure that your hedge has the nutrients it needs to grow successfully. Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of equal parts aged manure and compost over the surface of the soil where your privet hedge is planted. Work the spring fertilizer application into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Leave the fall fertilizer application in a layer on the surface of the soil.
Prune your privet hedge annually in the early fall to control its size and shape or to remove any discolored, damaged or dead branches or foliage. Trim the privet hedge so that the bottom of the hedge is wider than the top; the top of the hedge can be either flat or rounded, depending on your preference. Make sure to use only sharpened and sterilized pruning tools when pruning your privet hedges.
Monitor your privet hedge for insect pests like spider mites, scale, aphids and whiteflies that can infest and damage your hedge. Treat your privet hedge with an insecticide product to combat insect infestation. Use the insecticide product carefully and according to package directions.
Revitalize a neglected, overgrown privet hedge by cutting the hedge down to a height of just 12 inches. Trim your privet hedge two to three times a year for the next four to five years to promote full, vigorous growth while your hedge works to grow back to its original height.
Privet hedges are greedy feeders. As a result, you may want to provide extra fertilizer for plants planted in the near vicinity.
Privet shrubs are poisonous to both humans and pets. Ingesting any part of the privet shrub can cause serious symptoms including headache, stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even death.
Privet shrubs are considered invasive plants in many parts of the United States. Consult your local state university extension office before planting privet shrubs in your area.