Good sized evergreen plants are the backbone of the garden. In warmer areas these are usually broad-leaved plants, and since these are the plants that will fill large parts of your garden, they need to be easy to grow, tough and reliable. Japanese privet fits the bill perfectly, but seed-grown forms of this plant can become large and hard to control, so it is always best to choose a garden form that has been selected for smaller growth and extra attractive features.
The Wavy Leaf Privet is just such a plant. It grows rapidly to around 8 feet tall – the perfect size for a background planting, a hedge or a screen. It naturally grows dense and full without a lot of trimming, making a great specimen for planting in a lawn, or even in a large pot as a container plant. Visually the leaves are curved at the tip, with slightly wavy edges, creating a lively effect that adds to the charm and beauty of this plant. It has clusters of white flowers in spring that add interest and color, making this an all-round ideal garden plant.
Privet has a poor reputation with some people. This comes from the ‘bad manners’ of the European and Chinese privets, which grow very large and produce lots of seeds. These sprout as weeds in the garden, and they also escape into the wild, causing environmental problems, especially in the southern states. In response, gardeners have shifted to using other species, which are much more modest in size and any berries are not eaten by birds. The Japanese privet is one of these ‘well-mannered’ privets. It stays relatively small and birds show no interest in eating the seeds, so it does not become a weed and it will not spread into wild areas around you. Growing this plant is safe and responsible, and you do not need to worry about introducing a pest into your garden or your neighborhood.
The Wavy Leaf Privet is a versatile evergreen shrub, that can add 2 feet of growth a year when young, making it the ideal choice is you want a hedge in a hurry. Yet it doesn’t grow more than 8 feet tall, so it won’t crowd out your garden. It is perfect for filling a blank corner, and attractive enough, especially when in flower, to use as a container plant in a large tub on your terrace, or beside your entrance. The pure-white flowers are carried in sprays, and develop in early spring. They are followed by clusters of berries, but after flowering is an ideal time to give your plants a trim to keep them compact and dense. This will remove the dead flower clusters, so berries will not form. These are ignored by birds anyway, but they are not very showy, so there is no harm in removing them.
Choose a sunny or shady location for your Wavy Leaf Privet. It will grow better in some shade, especially in hot areas, so save those sunny places for plant that grow best in sun, like Crape Myrtles. It will grow in any kind of soil, no matter how poor it is, except for soils that are constantly wet. Not only will it grow in any soil, once established it is drought resistant, unaffected by heatwaves or cold spells, and it has no serious pests or diseases. It grows well in coastal areas too, as it is resistant to salt spray, and grows well in sandy soil. This is a very, very easy plant to grow, and anyone can grow it.
The Japanese Privet, Ligustrum japonicum, is found growing wild in southern and central Japan, as well as in Korea. It has evergreen leaves of a rich dark-green, with an attractive glossy upper surface. They are oval and 3 or 4 inches long. The flowers are small, but bunched together in cone-shaped clusters that are up to 8 inches long and as much across. They are pure white and make a very attractive show in spring, when the plant is covered in these sweetly-scented blooms. If not trimmed the flowers develop into clusters of small, oval purple-black berries, which decorate the tree all winter. The special form ‘Recurvifolium’, called the Wavy Leaf Privet, has a pronounced curve in the tip of the leaf, as well as a wavy edge. This feature gives the whole plant interesting visual movement and grace, making it the most desirable variety to grow in your garden. It is also more compact and fuller than the wild plant, so it is more suited for garden use. Cheaper seedling trees will not be this attractive variety and will instead be more like the less-attractive wild form, so avoid them and grow only the best.
To make a hedge from the Wavy Leaf Privet, place your plant 2 to 3 feet apart in a row. They will rapidly grow together, and you should begin clipping while they are still small, to develop a dense structure. Always clip the sides flat and sloping inwards a little. This will allow light to reach the bottom of the hedge, and keep the foliage healthy and thick right to the ground. If you allow the top to grow wide, as it naturally will, the lower parts will soon become bare and twiggy.
Many gardeners are now realizing the value of these improved privet bushes, and we know that our stocks will not last long. Order now and avoid disappointment.