The most common hedge plants in the UK are privets, members of the ligustrum genus. They are adaptable to a variety of soil and light conditions. Privets are also used for foundation plantings, shrub borders and patio trees. The ability of these evergreen shrubs and trees to handle severe pruning makes them well-suited for hedges. Rapid growth makes frequent clipping necessary.
There are four basic varieties of privets and numerous cultivars. Common ligustrums are Japanese or wax privet (ligustrum japonicum), glossy privet (ligustrum lucidum) and Chinese privet (ligustrum sinense). In certain parts of the UK, the Japanese privet commonly grows 4.5 to 5.4 m (15 to 18 feet) high without pruning. Glossy privet can reach 9 to 12 m (30 to 40 feet), while the variegated Chinese privet grows approximately 3.6 m (12 feet) high by 3 m (10 feet) across. A slow growing Japanese privet is ligustrum recurvifolium, which has round leaves and an upright growing habit.
Add compost or peat moss and superphosphate fertiliser to soil when starting a privet. Superphosphate has a nitrogen-phosphorous- potassium ratio of 0-21-0. "Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening" recommends 57 g (2 oz) of superphosphate per 14.5 kg (32 lb) of loose, well-drained soil mixture.
In the Gulf stream affected ares of the British Isles or during heat waves, apply fertiliser two to three times a year. For two applications, early spring and autumn are the best times. For more rapid growth or unhealthy plants, add a third application in the summer. Broadcast a 15-5-10 or 15-5-15 fertiliser in shrub beds at 318 g ( 0.7 lb) per 9.3 square metres (100 square feet). Keep fertiliser off the leaves and away from the privet trunks.
Fertilise less frequently in colder parts of the UK, such as Central Scotland and the Nrothern Isles -- just once every few years. Use nitrogen applications: 454 g to 1.36 kg (1 to 3 lb) of nitrogen for each 93 square metres (1,000 square feet) of privets. When fertilising privet hedges, calculate the size of the landscape bed, not the canopy area of the privets.
Phosphorus is best applied before planting. Add superphosphate when the growing medium is being prepared. For landscape plants and privet beds, nitrogen and balanced fertilisers work best when broadcast on the surface. As with all water soluble fertilisers, water well after spreading fertiliser to prevent leaf burn.
- "Taylors Master Guide to Gardening"; Roger Holmes; 2001
- Cornell Cooperative Extension: Privets
- University of Minnesota Extension: Understanding phosphorus fertilisers