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Variegated Privet – A Comprehensive Guide

variegated privet

Variegated privet is a popular ornamental plant that is known for its striking foliage pattern. It belongs to the genus Ligustrum and is widely grown in gardens, parks, and public spaces. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about variegated privet, including its characteristics, uses, benefits, and more.

Characteristics of Variegated Privet

Variegated privet is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Its leaves are oval-shaped, 1-3 inches long, and have a glossy texture. The unique feature of variegated privet is its green and white color pattern. The leaves have a creamy-white margin that stands out against the bright green center. The plant produces small, white, fragrant flowers in late spring or early summer that attract bees and butterflies. The fruit is a black berry that is enjoyed by birds.

Hardiness and Growing Conditions

Variegated privet is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. The plant is drought-tolerant and can withstand moderate frost. However, it is susceptible to root rot if the soil is poorly drained or waterlogged.

Uses and Benefits of Variegated Privet

The variegated privet is primarily grown for its ornamental value. It is often used as a hedge or border plant to add structure and interest to a garden. The plant's striking foliage makes it an ideal choice for creating contrast and visual appeal in mixed borders. Variegated privet is also used as a screening plant to provide privacy and reduce noise pollution.

Apart from its aesthetic value, variegated privet has several benefits. The plant is known to improve air quality by filtering pollutants and absorbing carbon dioxide. It is also a good source of food and habitat for birds and pollinators.

How to Grow and Care for Variegated Privet

Planting and Propagation

Variegated privet can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or root divisions. The best time to plant the shrub is in early spring or fall when the soil is moist and cool. Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball and loosen the soil at the bottom. Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil. Water thoroughly and mulch around the base to retain moisture.

Watering and Fertilization

Variegated privet requires regular watering during the first year of planting to establish roots. Once established, the plant can tolerate moderate drought. Water deeply once a week during the summer months to keep the soil moist. Avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.

Fertilize variegated privet in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates.

Pruning and Maintenance

Variegated privet requires minimal pruning to maintain its shape and size. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Remove dead or diseased branches and thin out crowded growth. To encourage bushy growth, prune the tips of young shoots.

Common Pests and Diseases of Variegated Privet

Variegated privet is generally pest and disease-resistant. However, it can be affected by the following pests and diseases:


  • Aphids – Small, green insects that suck sap from leaves and stems.
  • Whiteflies – Tiny, white insects that feed on the underside of leaves.
  • Scale insects – Small, brown insects that attach to stems and leaves and suck sap.


  • Leaf spot – Fungal disease that causes brown spots on leaves.
  • Powdery mildew – Fungal disease that creates a white powdery coating on leaves.
  • Root rot – Fungal disease that affects roots and causes wilting and yellowing of leaves.


Q1. Can variegated privet be grown in containers?

Yes, variegated privet can be grown in containers. Choose a large pot with good drainage and fill it with well-drained soil. Water regularly and fertilize once a year with a slow-release fertilizer.

Q2. How fast does variegated privet grow?

Variegated privet can grow up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide in 5-10 years. The growth rate depends on the growing conditions and the plant's age.

Q3. Is variegated privet toxic to pets?

Yes, variegated privet is toxic to pets if ingested. The plant contains glycosides that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in cats and dogs.

Q4. Can variegated privet be used for topiary?

Yes, variegated privet is an excellent choice for creating topiary shapes. The plant's dense foliage and fast growth rate make it ideal for shaping into balls, cones, or spirals.

Q5. When is the best time to prune variegated privet?

The best time to prune variegated privet is in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Pruning during this time promotes bushy growth and maintains the plant's shape and size.

Variegated privet is a versatile and attractive shrub that adds interest and structure to any garden. Its striking foliage pattern, low maintenance, and hardiness make it a popular choice for homeowners and landscapers alike. Whether you are looking to create a hedge or border, or add visual appeal to a mixed border, variegated privet is sure to impress.

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