The Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) is native to Asian countries such as Korea and Japan, but it acclimates to the warmer areas of North America. Japanese privet grows between 6 and 12 feet tall, with some specimens capable of being 20 feet high – the size of a small tree. Japanese privet is a favorite of landscapers looking to create evergreen hedges, privacy screens or topiaries. Once established, Japanese privet requires little care except for occasional pruning to maintain its shape, notes Floridata.
Use Japanese privet as a landscaping tool only if you live between U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. This plant has very little cold-hardiness. Some parts of USDA zone 7b will support the Japanese privet, if you place it where it has protection from the cold. This includes regions such as central Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and western South Carolina.
Locate Japanese privet in any type of soil, with the exception of areas that are constantly soggy. The shrub has great tolerance for a variety of soils, ranging from dry ones to damp ground. Japanese privet is an option for urban landscapes as well, displaying an ability to grow despite the presence of air pollution.
Select a full-sun or partial-shade site for your Japanese privet. If planting this shrub in the shade, watch for problems such as sooty mold to affect the foliage.
Prune your Japanese privet in the springtime after it blooms. The Japanese privet blooms during May and June, generating clusters of cream-white flowers that produce what the Missouri Botanical Garden describes as an “unpleasant” fragrance. If the flowers and fruits they yield are not important to you, you may prune the shrub any time you desire. By removing the flowers after they bloom or the black fruits they produce, you reduce the chances of any seeds developing that may result in Japanese privet growing elsewhere on your property.
Space your Japanese privets 5 feet apart when trying to form hedges or privacy screens with this shrub. As they mature, they will join to create the desired effect. Powdery mildew, a condition that causes the leaves to appear whitish, can result when you plant Japanese privet too close to each other, as poor air circulation enables the disease to thrive.