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Wax Leaf Privet: How to Care for Them

Wax leaf privets (Ligustrum japonicum), also called Japanese privet, grows 8 to 12 feet tall and up to 25 feet wide. It grows in either shrub or tree form with green, waxy evergreen leaves and flowers that bloom in spring and summer. Black berries follow the flowers and persist through most the season. This plant overwinters down to USDA zone 7, where the temperature stays above 10 degrees F. Knowledge of how to care for this plant give you an attractive addition to your landscape.

Plant the wax leaf privet in an area with full sun or partial shade. It will tolerate many types of soil, including clay, loam and sand, as long as it has proper drainage. Try to position the privet away from streets, as it does not do well with salt spray. Space multiple privets 10 to 15 feet apart.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the wax leaf privet. This will keep the soil evenly moist and protect the roots from temperature fluctuations.

Water the wax leaf privets, keeping them moist until they take root and start to grow vigorously. Once established, rainwater will provide enough moisture for these plants. Although moderately drought-tolerant, this privet benefits from a deep watering during times of drought.

Prune the plant with pruning shears in the winter. You can either develop a single trunk or allow multiple leaders to grow, shear the bush small or allow it to branch naturally. Cut out dead, diseased or broken branches annually.

Fertilize with a fertilizer marked 15-15-10 in early spring, beginning the second year of growth. The numbers mean that the fertilizer consists of 15 percent nitrogen, 15 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions as each brand differs. Another application in the summer will spur on growth of unhealthy privets.


You can grow this bush from seeds or cuttings or purchase plants from a disease-free certified nursery.

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