Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Ligustrum Sempervirens

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Ligustrum sempervirens (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ligustrum sempervirens (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained soil

Flowering period: Summer

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a

Family: Oleaceae

Ligustrum sempervirens is an evergreen shrub with a bushy habit. Its dark green glossy leaves are ovate with a pointed tip and entire margins, up to 6cm long and 4.5cm broad. It small white flowers are tubular and appear in dense panicles that are up to 10 cm long and 8cm broad. These are followed by ellipsoid purple/ black fruits which are up to 8mm long.

Ligustrum sempervirens Flower (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ligustrum sempervirens Flower (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ligustrum sempervirens, commonly known as the Evergreen Privet, is native to south west China. In its native habitat it grows in thickets by rivers. Ligustrum sempervirens is synonymous with Syringa sempervirens

The etymological root of the binomial name Ligustrum was an old name for the Privet plant. Sempervirens is from the Latin semper meaning ‘always’ and virens meaning ‘herbage’, in reference to this plant being evergreen.

The landscape architect may use Ligustrum sempervirens as an evergreen hedge. It may be pruned to form a formal or flowering informal form. Once established this shrub is drought tolerant. Care should be taken in locating this plant as its fruit is mildly toxic to humans when ingested.

Ecologically,  Ligustrum sempervirens flowers are attractive many species of pollinating insects (including honey bees and butterflies). Its berries are attractive to some species of birds.

Ligustrum sempervirens Leaf (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ligustrum sempervirens Leaf (27/07/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ligustrum sempervirens prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

If maintaining  Ligustrum sempervirens as a hedge, formal or informal, it plant should be trimmed after flowering. It may then be pruned a further 3 or four times during the summer months. Ligustrum sempervirens hedges will become denser the more they are pruned and will withstand heavy pruning.

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