Ligustrum japonicum
Common Name: Japanese privet
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Oleaceae
Native Range: Japan, Korea
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7b-10. Where winter hardy, it is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, except wet ones. Tolerant of urban conditions. Prune as needed in spring immediately after flowering. If flowering is not a consideration, prune at any time. May be trained as a small tree. Plants will naturalize by self-seeding in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ligustrum japonicum, commonly called Japanese privet or wax leaf privet, is native to Japan and Korea. It has become a popular and versatile shrub for warm winter areas of the southern and western U.S. in large part as a result of its attractive evergreen foliage, fast but compact growth and ease of culture/pruning. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in some of those warm winter areas. This is a dense, fast-growing, evergreen shrub that typically grows 6-10’ tall, although it may grow to as much as 18’ tall. It responds well to shaping and pruning, and is often trained into topiary specimens such as globes, pyramids or cones. Ovate to ovate-lanceolate, blunt-pointed, glossy, dark green leaves (to 4” long) are pale whitish-green beneath. Creamy white flowers in upright panicles (to 6” long) bloom in late May to early June. Flowers are considered to have an unpleasant aroma. Flowers give way to oval-rounded black drupes which ripen in fall and persist into winter.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for privet.

Specific epithet means of Japan.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to a number of potential disease problems, including anthracnose, crown gall, twig blight, leaf spots, powdery mildew, cankers and root rots. Aphids, leaf miners, scale, thrips, mealybugs, whitefly, nematodes, Japanese beetles, weevils and mites may appear. Foliage may scorch in full sun locations in hot summer climates.

Garden Uses

Formal or informal hedge, screen and shrub border. Popular for topiaries. Train as small tree. Container plant. May grow too fast for foundation plantings.