The Waxleaf Privet is a handsome evergreen shrub with rich-green glossy leaves and a profuse display of large clusters of pure-white flowers in spring. It grows no more than 9 feet tall and it can be grown in a variety of shapes. Left bushy, it makes a perfect low-maintenance background shrub for your garden, always looking fresh every day of the year. It can easily be planted as a hedge, which can be left unclipped as a natural privacy screen, or clipped into a tight formal hedge if you wish.
Waxleaf Privets can be pruned up by removing lower branches and turned into a miniature tree for a small garden, or to plant above low plants in your garden beds. It can also be grown in large tubs, planters and other containers, where it makes a wonderful show when in flower, and an attractive rich-green shrub the rest of the time. A specimen pruned into a tree is beautiful in a large container, with smaller flowering plants beneath it.
Growing Waxleaf Privets
The Waxleaf Privet is an improved form of the Japanese privet, a type of privet that remains smaller, and does not spread through seeds as other less-desirable kinds do. It has smooth, oval leaves that are 2 to 4 inches long and up to 2 inches wide. They have a rich, glossy surface and are a very dark green color, making the perfect background plant. The dark leaves really show off the pure white flowers that come in spring.
Each individual flower is small, about ¼ of an inch across, but hundreds of flowers are gathered together in large cone-shaped clusters that are 8 inches long and the same width at the base. Even young plants are covered in blooms, making a wonderful show in spring to welcome the return of warmer weather. The flowers are followed by clusters of small purple-black berries that persist through the winter. They are not eaten by birds, so the plant will not spread as a weed in your garden or into the surrounding area.
The Waxleaf Privet will grow in almost any location. It thrives in shade as well as sun, so it is ideal for filling those shady corners of the garden where other plants won’t grow. It will grow in all kinds of soil, from sand to clay. The only place it will not grow well is in soil that is constantly wet and flooded.
Once established it is very resistant to drought, as well as to intense heat. It is hardy to zero degrees Fahrenheit, and even if the temperature briefly falls lower in a cold snap, some leaves may fall, but otherwise it will be fine. It has no significant pests or diseases and this is a very easy plant to grow successfully, even in poor locations.
Using as a Hedge
To plant the Waxleaf Privet as a hedge, space the plants 2 feet apart in a row. Begin clipping as soon as new growth is seen, so that a dense structure is created for your hedge. Always slope the sides inwards, so that light reaches the lowest parts, otherwise those sections may become twiggy and bare, instead of staying green and lush right to the ground.
History and Origins of the Waxleaf Privet
Japanese Privet (Ligustrum japonicum) grows 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 small, pure white flowers are bunched together in cone-shaped clusters that are up to 8 inches long and the same across at the base. They make a beautiful garden show in spring, when the plant is covered in these sweetly-scented blooms. After the petals drop the flowers develop into clusters of small, oval purple-black berries, which decorate the tree all winter. The form ‘Texanum’, was originally found in Texas, but its exact origins have been lost. It is smaller than the wild form, denser in shape, and flowers profusely even when young. Seedling plants will be more like the wild plant, so although these may be cheaper, why settle for second-best?