How to Care for a Golden Privet

Golden privet (Ligustrum x vicaryi) deserves a high ranking on the list of attention-grabbing ornamentals. Hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, the 8- to 12-foot-tall, vase-shaped evergreen tree gold privet brightens sunny spots with its dense stems of golden-yellow leaves. The dramatic leaf highlights clusters of white, butterfly-attracting spring blooms and blue-black, summer berries. In mild-winter climates, gold privet retains its leaves all year. Its salt-tolerance makes the shrub a good choice for coastal gardens.

Water gold privet weekly or as soon as the top 3 inches of soil are dry. A gold privet along the cool, humid shore needs less watering than one at a warm waterfront atmosphere.

Feed gold privet in early spring, midsummer and early fall with a natural, slow-release 5-3-3 fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly over the root zone of the plant, beginning two inches from its trunk and extending just past its erect leaves. Apply the fertilizer at the rate specified on the tag for the size of the shrub. Water well to dissolve the food into the ground.

Watch the shrub for thrips, gold privet’s most serious insect pest. Measuring less than 1/20 inch long, the slender insects might be white, yellow, gray or black. Thrips larvae, or nymphs, resemble the adults except for their lack of fringed wings. These insects consume leaf tissue, leaving the leaf stippled and speckled with dark excrement. They usually infest new development. Remove light thrips infestations by blasting the insects with water from your garden hose. Spraying the shrub with narrow-range oil or insecticidal soap at the very first indication of damage additionally controls thrips. Always employ chemical sprays based on the manufacturer’s specifications.

Check regularly for dropping leaves or discolored blotches on the shrub’s older foliage, symptoms of leaf spot fungal infection. Golden privet tolerates mild leaf spot infection with no harm. Prevent the fungus from spreading, even if necessary, by spraying a contaminated tree using copper-based fungicide.

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