How to Keep Your Variegated Privet Thriving All Year Round

Variegated privet is one of the most beautiful shrubs you can grow in your garden. Also known as Ligustrum sinense Variegata’, this plant offers lovely white and yellow variegation and green foliage throughout the growing season. The leaves usually turn red in the fall, and in the spring, it blooms with fragrant pink flowers.

Individual shrubs can be expensive, so many gardeners are often looking to buy plants that are already well-established and in need of little care and maintenance. One of the best shrubs to purchase this way is the variegated privet.

If you’re looking to grow your variegated privet, you’d want to keep reading as we’ll go through all you need to know about growing and caring for this amazing plant.

What is a Variegated Privet?

Variegated Privet Plant

Variegated privet (Ligustrum sinense variegata) is a beautiful evergreen shrub that can be used in various landscaping designs. It is a hybrid of the Chinese Privet and Ligustrum sinense and has thick foliage variegated in shades of green, white, yellow, and cream. The glossy leaves are up to 2 inches long and have saw-toothed edges.

This versatile shrub is perfect for trouble-free hedging, home privacy, or yard privacy. This hardy shrub grows in USDA zones 4 through 9 and is ideal for areas with cool summer nights and hot days. Suppose you live in an area where temperatures hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower during the summer months. In that case, it can grow variegated privet in pots or containers on the front porch, patio, or balcony.

Variegated privet typically grows to about 6-8 feet tall with an equal spread and is often used as a low hedge or border shrub. It is also popular for topiary forms and other ornamental shapes.

Common Privet Varieties

Chinese Variegated Privet Shrub
Chinese Variegated Privet Shrub

Privets are members of the olive family and are a part of the genus Ligustrum (Oleaceae) species. There are multiple varieties of privets, such as:

  1. Ligustrum amurense (Amur privet) – This evergreen shrub variety is hardy in zones 3–7. It possesses light green leaves and creamy white blooms.
  2. Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ (Golden privet) – This cultivar possesses vibrant yellow leaves and can grow to a height of 10 feet. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. The leaves become a purple-red tint in the autumn in colder areas.
  3. Ligustrum vulgare (Common privet) – This privet variety, often known as wild privet or European privet, can grow up to 15 feet tall. They aren’t very attractive, making them among the least preferred privet varieties. They produce toxic berries that resemble blackberries in the summer.
  4. Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet) – A little tree with a mature height of 13 feet, this privet variety flourishes as a small tree. It is considered an invasive plant, and the variegated version of the Chinese privet is less harmful to the environment.
  5. Ligustrum ovalifolium (California privet) – This privet variety shapes nicely and creates an attractive hedge. USDA zones 5 through 9 are appropriate for its cultivation.
  6. Ligustrum lucidum (Glossy privet) – This variety can reach 50 feet. USDA zones 7–10 are suitable for cultivating it, and this variety is considered an invasive species, particularly in California and Florida.

Planting and Spacing Your Variegated Privet

Growing variegated privet is a simple task that you can carry out through stem cutting. Before you start propagating, you should know a few things to make it easier on yourself and achieve the best results. Below are the steps to take:

  1. Take 6-inch long, slender, pencil-thick cuttings in the early spring.
  2. Remove all leaves from the lowest 2 inches of the cuttings to expose the nodes.
  3. Dip the cuttings’ tips with rooting hormone and fill the pot with potting mix.
  4. Space the cuttings according to their expected mature size, allowing at least 3-4 feet between each plant. If you’re planting multiple rows, allow 6-8 feet between rows.
  5. Add soil amendments such as compost and peat moss to the backfill soil to improve drainage and add nutrients.
  6. Place the pot in a sunny outdoor spot with indirect light, preferably away from direct sunlight.
  7. After planting, water thoroughly and then mulch around the base of the plant with wood chips or shredded bark to help retain moisture.
  8. Always keep the cuttings moist. Within a month or two, new leaves and root growth should appear.

Transplanting Your Variegated Privet Indoors

Variegated privet is a beautiful shrub with gorgeous green-and-white leaves. However, this plant needs extra attention during the cold winter months to survive. If you want to keep your variegated privet healthy, bringing it indoors for the winter is an absolute must!

Before bringing your variegated privet indoors for the winter, start by pruning it back a few weeks before moving it inside. Once your shrub is pruned and tidy, gently dig around its roots and carefully lift it from the ground. Place the entire plant into a large container with plenty of drainage holes.

Once your variegated privet is settled in its new container, it’s time to bring it indoors. Place it in a location that gets plenty of bright, indirect light and keep it away from any direct drafts. Ensure the container has a tray underneath it to catch any excess water, as you don’t want the plant to sit in waterlogged soil. Ensure that the top inch or two of soil is dry before watering, but keep the soil dry.

Finally, make sure to provide your variegated privet with plenty of humidity. Alternatively, if you have a humidifier nearby, you can mist the leaves every few days. It’s also important to check for pests regularly, as these pests can cause damage to the delicate leaves of this plant.

Caring for Variegated Privet

Below are ways you can care for your variegated privet:

Soil and Watering Needs

When it comes to soil, the variegated privet prefers well-drained, sandy loam soil. Watering this plant is also important. However, do not overwater it. The variegated privet should be kept consistently moist. The foliage can turn brown or yellow if the soil becomes too dry.


Variegated privet can tolerate full sun, partial shade, and various soil conditions. In warmer climates, variegated privet requires more shade during the hottest times of the day, so ensure to plant it in an area where it receives full sun to partial shade.


To keep your variegated privet healthy, prune it regularly to control its size and shape. Ideally, prune during the late winter or after the summer flowering season to prevent new growth from emerging. Here are vital steps to take when pruning your variegated privet:

  • Removing dead or diseased branches helps keep the plant healthy; improves air circulation and light penetration.
  • Prune for shape and size
  • Cut back overgrown branches that block out sunlight and reduce air circulation.
  • Remove crossing branches that cause rubbing, which can lead to damage and disease. Removing crossed branches can help promote a healthier, more attractive shrub.


Finally, fertilizing your variegated privet will help ensure it grows well and maintains its vibrant foliage. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in the spring and summer months. Ensure that you follow the directions on the package for how much and how often to apply the product.

Before fertilizing, it’s best to check the soil around your plant to ensure it’s not too acidic or alkaline. A soil test will help you determine your soil’s correct pH level and nutrient content. When fertilizing variegated privet, apply the fertilizer evenly around the plant, avoiding the stem and foliage.

Common Pests and Diseases of Variegated Privet

Variegated privet is an attractive and versatile evergreen shrub that adds visual interest to any landscape. However, it can become susceptible to pests and diseases if not cared for properly. If you want your variegated privet to remain healthy for many years, you must be aware of these potential problems.

Common pests affecting variegated privet include aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. These pests can damage the leaves and stems, causing them to be yellow or brown. Spider mites can also cause webbing on the foliage. It is important to monitor your shrub regularly for signs of infestation and treat it with an appropriate pesticide or insecticidal soap if needed.

Diseases that can afflict variegated privet include leaf spots, root rot, and rust. Fungi attack the leaves, resulting in brown spots on the foliage, causing leaf spots. Root rot can be caused by overly wet soil and poor drainage, and rust is caused by a fungus and appears as orange or yellow spots on the leaves. Treating infected plants with a fungicide is important to prevent further disease spread.

Overall, the privet shrub is hardy, versatile, and effective with any landscape design. It also contains essential oils that can help repel mosquitoes, making it a great choice for outdoor parties or barbecues. The best part: you can always find fun new ways to incorporate this beautiful shrub into your garden!

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