Ligustrum japonica Texanum (Waxleaf Privet)
This has been used for hedging and informal topiary in the south-west and the south-east of the U.S. for many years. They’re now produced by a number of nurseries in Italy and have therefore only been in cultivation in Britain for 15 to 20 years. It’s a ‘sport’ of the well known Japanese Privet (Ligustrum japonica) with much thicker, fleshier and waxier leaves that seems to have spontaneously erupted in Texas – but where and when, I’m yet to discover.
It’s definitely tougher and greener and more eye catching than ordinary Japanese Privet but the thick and fleshy nature of the leaves dictates a particular informal approach to clipping it; if you clip this regularly (more than once or twice a year), the cut ends of the leaves are not a pretty sight. Clip it in late May into the shape you want (whether it’s a hedge or a lollipop or any other shape you want) and then allow it to grow out. That’s when it looks its best. The tiny leafed and related Ligustrum delavayi (or L. jonandrum) can be used for real topiary – cut it as often as you like and it looks beautiful but this is different. Cutting the bunches of white flowers out individually will also help the general green-ness and lushness of the plant. This will reduce the number of berries which (being related to olives) are of no great beauty.
Any reasonable well drained soil (including chalk) and plenty of light. This seems to tolerate even quite exposed sites but not too close to the sea.
Propagated by cuttings
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Green