Privets (Ligustrum spp.) are deciduous, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs and trees from the olive family. Different varieties of privet are native to Asia, Europe and Africa and are used widely in landscapes as hedges and topiaries for their dense growth. In their native habitat, privets grow on the edges of forests, upland areas and open fields. The plants grow optimally when provided their preferred soil conditions.
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Privet is a hardy plant species that grows well with minimal care. This includes its ability to thrive in a wide range of soil types, including wet or dry soils. The plant, however, needs a well-drained soil and will not tolerate soggy ground. Ligustrum also grows in poorly fertile and dry soil but still needs a good drainage.
Check for soil drainage prior to planting to improve conditions if required. Soil drainage refers to the speed at which water moves away from the plant roots in the soil. Dig a 16-inch-deep hole in the intended planting area and fill it with water. In a soil with rapid drainage, the water will drain out in about an hour. If water takes up to a few hours to drain, the soil has good drainage. In a poorly drained site, it will take a day or longer for all the water to drain.
Poor Drainage Disadvantages
Growing plants that have lower tolerance for excessive soil moisture, such as ligustrum, in poorly drained soils affects overall plant health. The moisture reduces the flow of oxygen to the roots and gradually suffocates the plant. Clay soils are often poorly drained in nature. A consistently wet area around the root zone makes plants highly prone to infection from root rot fungi and is also likely to create an iron deficiency in the plant.
One of the easiest ways to improve soil drainage prior to planting ligustrum is to amend the planting site with organic matter. The addition of organic matter not only improves water retention capacity in very fast-draining soils such as sand but helps the heavy, clay soils to drain faster by breaking up compaction and improving soil texture. When using organic matter, do not just add to the planting hole, but incorporate it a few feet deep into the soil in the intended site.
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- University of Tennessee Extension; Privet; Becky Koepke-Hill, et al.; September 2009
- Floridata; Ligustrum Japonicum; Jack Scheper; May 2005
- "The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook"; Penelope O'Sullivan, et al.; 2007
- "Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening"; Rita Buchanan, et al.; 2001
- Texas A&M; University Extension: Texas Tree Planting Guide