Is There a Form of Ligustrum that Is Not Invasive?

by April Sanders

Fans of privet (Ligustrum spp.) know that it makes an excellent hedge, shrub or small tree. It's the perfect plant to cultivate with children -- it's nearly impossible to kill, has attractive foliage and blooms prolifically in the spring, and birds love the berries. Unfortunately, the most common species are all invasive. That doesn't mean you can't grow the plant, however. There are forms that are not invasive -- you just might have to go out of your way to find them.

Golden Privet

Golden privet (Ligustrum "Vicaryi") is a deciduous form of ligustrum, which means the leaves drop from the plant when the cooler weather of fall arrives. Until then, however, the leaves shine with a golden hue. This privet grows best as an open-form shrub and will reach a maximum average height and width of 12 and 10 feet respectively. It can also be pruned into a hedge, but this may reduce its yellow foliage and flowering habit. Your children will be delighted by the butterflies that visit the long, tubular, fragrant white flowers in the spring. The flowers grow on clusters that reach lengths of 4 inches, and the leaves average about 2.5 inches long. The flowers are followed by dark, berry-like fruit.

Golden Privet Care

The Missouri Botanical Garden does not list golden privet as invasive, unlike most other privets. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, the shrub will grow equally well in full sun or partial shade. The golden color of the leaves will be more vibrant if the plant is grown in full sun, however. Golden privet thrives in average, well-drained soil that has dry or medium levels of moisture.

Ibolium Privet

Ibolium privet (Ligustrum x ibolium) is a hybrid notable for its dense branching habit and heavily veined leaves. The leaves are about 2.5 inches long. A deciduous shrub like the golden privet, ibolium reaches a maximum average height and width of 12 and 8 feet respectively. The plant blooms in late spring with sweet-smelling white flowers that grow in clusters up to 4 inches long. The flowers attract butterflies and bees. In the summer, the shrub produces fruit that resembles small, dark berries.

Ibolium Privet Care

Ibolium is a suitable choice for home gardeners who have dry areas in the landscape as it is drought-tolerant. It is also not listed as invasive by the Missouri Botanical Garden. It grows equally well in full sun or partial shade and will adapt to a wide range of soil types. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 7, ibolium makes an excellent hedge or screen. Sheer it often to encourage dense growth.

Photo Credits

  • brick and flint cottage image by Chris Lofty from