Chinese Privet Growing Wild

Chinese Privet Growing Wild

Nature News, a local radio program about what is going on in nature in our area had a field trip on the air this morning. Among things they described along the way is Privet. They weren’t fans.

I had just taken a bunch of photos of the flowering bush near the new house. I was going see what it is. It sounded like what they were describing, so I looked up Privet.

Chinese Privet Growing Wild
Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense)

Yes, this is Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense). Chinese Privet has showy tiny white flowers with a kinda too sweet fragrance. It grows as a shrub, but can get as tall as a tree. The ones around our house are small trees.

Chinese Privet Growing Wild
This is what the branches look like.
Chinese Privet Growing Wild
This is what it looks like before it blooms.

People are of two minds about Privet. Some people really like it. Some people really, really don’t. Nature News talked about it being an invasive.

Southern Living: How to Grow Privet and How to Kill Privet
Southern Living: How to Grow Privet and How to Kill Privet

Southern Living’s website has one article, “Pretty, Awful Privet, Hold your breath and kill the South’s worst weed” and another article with expert gardening tips on the Privet. How much sun, shade, water and care does it need?


Even the article on how to grow privet wasn’t very encouraging.

Some people don’t care for the cloyingly sweet scent and the pollen may cause allergic reactions. Bees and wasps also swarm to the flowers. Clipped hedges produce fewer flowers, as shearing removes most of the flower buds. Blossoms are followed by small, berrylike, blue-black fruit. Birds eat them and distribute the seeds everywhere with the result that seedlings come up everywhere, too. Since most privets will grow well in any kind of soil, vigilance is required to keep them from taking over.

Southern Living Website, no author given

Grumpy Gardener was not of two minds at all. “No mercy granted to the South’s worst weed.”

It’s worse than kudzu, in Grumpy’s always correct opinion. Yes, I said that. Worse than kudzu. That’s because kudzu needs sun to grow. Chinese privet, on the other hand, grows just about anywhere. In sun. In shade. In wet soil. In dry soil. In the city. In the country. On the surface of Pluto.

Southern Living
Grumpy Gardener
Steve Bender

He says they will grow up to 20 feet tall and give out a lot of pollen. So, I guess even though they are pretty, we should take them out.

I urge you to kill it wherever you find it. The way to do this is to cut off the trunks an inch or so above the soil during the growing season and then immediately paint the remaining cut surfaces with Roundup or Brush Killer. (Note to environmental crazies – don’t even bother to reproach me about this use of Roundup. I won’t respond.) Follow label directions carefully. The herbicide will be taken down to the roots and kill them.

Southern Living
Grumpy Gardener
Steve Bender