Golden privet, also known as golden vicary privet or golden ligustrum, is a multi-stemmed, perennial shrub that is commonly used in hedge and privacy screen plantings and as an accent plant in home landscapes. The scientific name of the plant is Ligustrum 'Vicaryi'. Its common name is derived from the bright yellow coloration of its foliage.
The glossy, ovate leaves of the golden privet are the plant's most prominent feature. Rather than green, the leaves have a yellow or golden cast to them. In spring, the plant also presents bunches of dull white, tubular flowers that have an aromatic and unpleasant odor and are attractive to butterflies and bees. The flowers produce a dark, colorful, berry-like fruit.
This perennial, deciduous shrub is an evergreen in warmer climates. In colder areas, the leaves may turn a purplish color before dropping. The hardiness zones that golden privet will grow in are from 5 through 8. The shrub grows moderately fast, putting on around a foot of growth per year. It is somewhat less vigorous than other privet varieties.
Reaching from 6 to 12 feet tall with a spread of 7 to 10 feet, golden privet can be vase-shaped, oval or rounded in form. When planted closely, the branches of the privet plants will interlock to form a dense hedge. Grown as a single plant, golden privet is more open and leggy, if left untrimmed.
Golden privet grow best in full sun to get the most color from the leaves of the plant. It will tolerate partial shade. The plant will grow well in a wide variety of soils. When first planted, golden privet should be watered regularly to establish a good root system. Once established, the plant will handle dry to medium moisture. Hedge plantings should be about 18 inches apart and can be planted in a single row or staggered double row. Pruning is best done in winter.
Commonly used for borders, screens and hedges, golden privet is often left unsheared and informal, as excessive trimming can reduce the amount of gold color in the leaves. The plant is also grown as singular specimen plant, often acting as a foundation planting or centerpiece in the landscape.