Privet cannot compete with roses, lilacs or mock oranges – it is not so bright and spectacular. However, many summer residents are happy to grow it on the site? What is it that attracts her? And what does she need? Find out with an expert

Among the people, privet is known as “wolfberry”. Where does this name come from? After all, it is clear that wolves do not eat privet berries. Nevertheless, the plant is connected with a predatory animal in some mystical, mysterious way. In fairy tales, biryuk is a lone wolf. So this bush, like a hermit, hides in the forest and can unexpectedly meet us at the edge. Which, in fact, is reflected in its official name of the shrub – privet comes from the word “privet”.

Types and varieties of privet

In nature, there are 43 species of privet (Ligustrum) (1). These are deciduous and evergreen shrubs or trees from 0,8 to 5 – 6 m high from the Olive family (Oleaceae). They are found on the territory of European and Asian countries, in Australia, North Africa. Most species are unpretentious – shade-tolerant, resistant to drought and low temperatures. For this, they are loved by landscape designers.

In central Our Country, only one species is found in the wild – common privet. But not only it, but also foreign species are grown in gardens.

Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare). This is the most unpretentious privet. Its lush sprawling bush can reach a height of 5 m. The leaves are leathery, in the form of an ellipse or lancet with a pointed top. It blooms from June to mid-July, and its inflorescences are somewhat reminiscent of lilac inflorescences (2). The fruits keep until winter. Grows well in the shade.

It winters well in the middle lane. It freezes, but recovers in Arkhangelsk, Yekaterinburg, Ivanovo. Sometimes this happens in the capital and the Moscow region, but here, as well as at the latitude of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, common privet stably bears fruit. What can I say, even in the polar-alpine botanical garden of the city of Apatity, it survives under the snow.

Among the popular varieties, 3 of the most interesting can be noted:

  • Atrovirens (atrovirens) – hardy cold-resistant variety 2,5 – 3 m high with emerald monochromatic ovoid leaves that turn red-brown in autumn, tiny, creamy, fragrant flowers, collected in openwork brushes;
  • Glaucum (Glaucum) – nshort-growing variety, grows no more than 1 m, the crown is spreading, the showy leaves have a strong bluish bloom and a narrow whitish edging along the edges;
  • Lodenze(Lodense) – undersized compact variety 0,6 – 0,9 m high with thin shoots and narrow, elongated, emerald leaves, bronzing by autumn, fragrant spindle-shaped inflorescences are 6 – 10 cm long.

There are several more interesting species, but their frost resistance is weak. You can grow them either in warm regions of Our Country with mild winters, or provide them with very good shelter for the winter.

Privet oval-leaved (Ligustrum ovalifolium). Evergreen privet with a cone-shaped crown. Its height is 1 m, annual growth is 15–20 cm. The plant is compact, suitable for both hedges and single planting. It blooms irregularly and does not smell very pleasant. It is grown for its decorative leaves.

It was this species that at the end of the XNUMXth century, at the height of the fashion for living sculptures and hedges, began to be widely used in creating labyrinths and secluded places in English gardens and parks. Its numerous branches are very close to each other, tying the crown together, like an impenetrable wall.

But this privet is suitable for the warm regions of the Crimea and the Caucasus, and in the Moscow region and to the north it requires very serious shelter.

This species has 3 unusual varieties that have gained the most popularity among gardeners:

  • Argentum (Argentum) – a variety of medium height, the edges of the leaves are flesh or silver.
  • уреум (Golden Age) – a variety undemanding to the composition of the soil is good for plastic containers that adorn the porch, patio or gazebo, about 1 m high, leaves with a golden border and a light green core.
  • Green diamond (Green Diamond) – a dwarf variety up to 60 cm high, its name is translated as a green diamond, since it has a beautiful jewel-shaped crown and bright green leaves, resistant to disease, requires shelter in the Moscow region.

Privet shiny (Ligustrum lucidum). A rare species from East Asia. She has a powerful tall bush with elongated large elliptical leaves with a pointed tip. Their outer surface is smooth and glossy. The flowers are small, white-cream, collected in panicles 15-18 cm long. In our middle lane, it requires serious shelter for the winter, but in the southern regions – in the Crimea and the Caucasus – it is quite comfortable for her.

Among the varieties can be noted:

  • Quihou (Quihoy) – about 2 m high, with dense leathery leaves shiny on the front side and pubescent from the inside, at the end of summer it is covered with many white or cream flowers in the form of panicles up to 20 – 25 cm long;
  • Vicar (Visari) – a hybrid variety with a height of 1 – 1,8 m with bright golden leaves, in autumn, with the advent of frost, they turn bronze, making the bush from afar look like a sculpture cast from shiny metal;
  • Excelsum Superbum – a relatively low variety (1,5 m) evergreen or semi-evergreen in warm regions, with small glossy leaves and a bright yellow rim around the edges;
  • Curly Wurly – its leaves are of an unusual shape, as if twisted, painted in beige-green color.

Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum). It looks like a brilliant privet, but is more winter-hardy. In the wild, it reaches 5–6 m. The leaves are smooth, emerald, 5–10 cm long. Snow-white inflorescences 7–15 cm long. 

The species has increased shade tolerance, but otherwise is capricious: it needs regular moderate watering, periodic top dressing.

The most popular variety in this species is Rotundifolia (Rotundifolia), with round leaves (this is how the name is translated) up to 1,5 m high.

privet care

Privets have different origins and their own cultivation nuances, but they also have common requirements.


Almost any soil is suitable for privet, except for acidic and dry sandy ones. But in order for the plants to show themselves in all their glory, they need to provide loose nutrient soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction.


Since in nature privets grow in the undergrowth and tolerate shade well, they can be planted on the site under trees, in the shade of a house or buildings.


Privet is impartial to moisture in the air and soil; it does not care about water deficiency. During the season, it is enough to water it abundantly 3-4 times, having spent 30-40 liters of water on the bush. Do this only in drought to prevent cracking of the soil. After a few days, the earth is loosened to a depth of 5 cm, mulched with peat by 2 cm.

If the summer is rainy or even moderate, the shrub does not need water procedures.


When planting in a hole, it is useful to add 1 teaspoon of urea and superphosphate and 1 glass of ash. Fertilizer must be thoroughly mixed with the soil and fill the planting hole with this mixture.


In order for the privet to bloom more magnificently, in early spring and in the middle of summer, 2 top dressings must be applied under each bush:

  • 2 teaspoons of superphosphate – evenly scatter in the trunk circle and close up with a rake;
  • 1 bucket of compost – use as mulch.


Without formation, privet quickly turns into tattered.

– Pruning is the most important thing in shrub care, says candidate of agricultural Dr. Alexander Kulenkamp. – The first time it needs to be cut as soon as it has taken root after planting: the shoots are shortened purely symbolically to stimulate the development of side branches. When the shrub grows 12 – 15 cm, the haircut is renewed again. And this is repeated every year. And sanitary pruning after winter is just an inevitable necessity! 

Shelter for the winter

Common privet in the middle lane does not require shelter. In regions with cold winters, as much snow as possible should be thrown over the bush.

But heat-loving species and varieties of shelter require. At the end of October, trunk circles are mulched with humus, compost or peat with a layer of 5–10 cm to protect the roots from frost. The shoots are pinned to the ground and covered with spruce branches. And as snow falls, they throw it over the plants.

Privet breeding

There are 4 ways to propagate privet.

Layers. In the spring, a strong long shoot is bent from the bush, the bark is cut in the middle from the bottom, pinned to the ground in this place, covered with fertile soil and covered with sphagnum, which is periodically watered.

After a while, young shoots will break through it. In the spring of the next season, they are separated with roots and soil and planted in a permanent place.

Cuttings. In summer, after flowering, the strongest and healthiest shoots 10–15 cm long are cut from the bush. A layer of soddy soil mixed with sand (3: 1) is poured into the pots, generously watered and the cuttings are stuck, deepening by 5 cm. Plantings are covered with a plastic bag or cut plastic bottle and kept in a bright place with a temperature of 20 – 25 ° C. The substrate is regularly moistened.

Cuttings take root in about a month.

Root scions. Privet sprouts next to the bush. Choose those that are located no closer than 50 cm to the base, carefully dig out, separate and immediately transplant.

Seeds. Seeds from ripe berries are dried, mixed with wet sand or peat (1: 4) and kept for several months in the refrigerator at 0 ° C, constantly moistening. In April, they are sown in the ground in the country.

And you can sow the seeds of privet before winter, in late October – early November.

Privet diseases

Despite resistance to diseases, the immune system sometimes weakens in bushes due to improper care or deterioration of living conditions. And then they become vulnerable to harmful fungi and bacteria.

Leaf spotting. It occurs due to the high humidity of the air and soil. The color of the spots can be different, as are the names of the diseases: with cercosporosis, they are rusty-brown or brown-red, withseptoria – whitish with black trim. There are spots and black, and crimson.

Despite the unequal pathogens, spotting is treated in the same way. Every 2 weeks the bushes are treated with Topaz, Profit, Alirin-B (3). Affected leaves are collected and burned.

Powdery mildew. Signs of the disease – leaves, as if sprinkled with flour.

For treatment, you can use Fundazol, Topaz, Skorom, Previkur (3).

privet pests

Has the privet lost its healthy appearance and partially shed its leaves? Often this is how she signals an attack by pests. In addition to mealybugs, thrips, spider mites and aphids, plants also have their own specific enemy.

Mole long-whiskered бiriuchinnaya. This is a cute butterfly, the antennae of which are noticeably longer than the wings and are thickened with purple scales closer to the body. And the wings themselves seem to be girded with a yellow band with black and dark lilac edging. Caterpillars of the long-whiskered privet moth (4) feed on flowers not only of privet, but also of sea buckthorn. Having eaten, they build a portable house for themselves and feed on fallen leaves.

Against moths, as well as against other unwanted insects, bushes can be treated and sprayed with bioinsecticides – Entobacterin or Lepidocide. Or use the chemical preparation Fufanon (3).

Popular questions and answers

We talked about growing privet with candidate of agricultural Sciences Alexander Kulenkamp.

How to choose privet seedlings?

When buying in the spring, inspect the stems of seedlings – they should not be a sign of freezing. Frozen twigs – do not worry, they will grow back. And if the trunk is damaged, then the plant is likely to die.

How to use privet in landscape design?

Privet looks impressive in compositions with conifers, roses, lilies, asters and chrysanthemums. If the privet grows separately, it can be shaped into a ball, Christmas tree, spiral.

Plants can be formed in the Japanese style of niwaki, when a flat, feathery cloud of greenery rises above each branch. The karikomi technique is even simpler, when the branches are not visible at all, and the bush takes the form of a dense pillow.

Is it possible to make a hedge out of privet?

That’s what she’s made for! Seedlings are determined in a trench 0,5 m wide and 0,6 m deep at a distance of 30–40 cm from each other. However, the hedge can grow freely, and then it is not cut at all. The view is not too neat, but the hassle is minimal: only unhealthy and broken branches are cut.

What to do with privet in autumn?

It is not necessary to feed or water it in the fall. But it is best to transplant in September and October.

Common privet in the middle zone of the country is often not even prepared for winter, it tolerates frosts down to -30 ° C. Well, other varieties in the middle or end of October are mulched with peat by 5 – 7 cm and tilted, covering with spruce branches. Berries are best removed.

What to do with privet in winter?

The higher the privet, the greater the risk of damage in winter. For middle latitudes, the optimal height is 0,5 – 1 m. For greater reliability, the plants are covered with snow, but not caked on trampled paths, but loose, fluffy. Then the bushes of common privet can withstand temperatures of -40 ° C. The tips of the stems that have suffered in the winter cold can recover on their own in the spring.

What to do with privet in spring?

At the end of March, you need to remove broken, dried, diseased and frozen shoots. And shorten the rest by 1/3.

Feeding will also be useful for privet: 1 bucket of humus or compost and 1 glass of ash under a bush.

Are privet berries edible?

No, they are poisonous! A few eaten pieces cause severe burning in the mouth, vomiting, pain when swallowing, indigestion, pain in the eyes, tears, convulsions and weakness. A fatal outcome is also possible.

By the way, the aroma of flowers is also not harmless – you should not inhale it for a long time. In addition, you must ensure that the pollen does not get on the skin.

Sources of

  1. Ligustrum // The Plant List

  2. Dyakova T.N. Decorative trees and shrubs // Moscow, Kolos, 2001 – 360 p.
  3. State catalog of pesticides and agrochemicals permitted for use on the territory of the Federation as of July 6, 2021 // Ministry of Agriculture of the Federation

  4. Catalog of Lepidoptera (Lepidoptera) of Our Country (edited by Sinev S.Yu.) // St. Petersburg; Moscow: Association of scientific publications KMK, 2008.

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