Privet is a semi-evergreen or evergreen shrub depending on the cultivar. This shrub is hardy down to USDA zone 3 and overwinters easily in most climates. Privets need little maintenance during the winter as they prepare for new growth in the spring.
Protecting Privet in Winter
Privet does not need extra protection in the winter. The dense foliage makes a good wind break for other less hardy perennials and shrubs when planted in the direction of prevailing winds or winter storms. Mulching of the root zone will help conserve soil moisture while adding a small amount of insulation for the roots. Organic material is the best mulch, including shredded leaves, grass clippings not treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, compost, and finely shredded arborist chips; these materials will decompose over a season.
Cutting Back Privet For Winter
Privet tolerates multiple prunings during the summer well. It is easy to keep the hedge tightly clipped and formal looking. In the colder USDA zones, it is vital to stop clipping Privet well before the first freeze in the fall. Late August is an excellent time to give the hedge one last clipping. Privet needs time to heal over any pruning cuts and harden off before it goes into a state of partial dormancy for the winter.
Privet Winter Care in Pots
The roots of container-grown plants are less insulated in the winter than those of plants in the ground. If possible, move containers to a sheltered spot out of the path of prevailing winds or winter storms. Large planters may not be moveable and can be wrapped with a few layers of burlap or horticultural fleece for extra insulation. Privet overwintered in pots also needs excellent drainage. Wet roots through the winter can mean certain death of almost any plant. Raise pots on bricks or more ornamental pot feet to keep the drainage hole open and out of any potential standing water.
Watering Privet in Winter
Privet needs to be watered during long dry spells in the winter. In USDA zones 7-10, you can continue watering when the nighttime temperatures exceed 45 degrees F. Do not water if the ground is frozen. Watering is best done early in the morning after the temperature begins to warm. Watering for longer periods spaced out by a week or more should be sufficient in the winter. Colder temperatures slow the rate that garden soil dries out. Overwatering in the winter is easy to do and will cause root rot.
Growing Privet Indoors
Privet does not need to be brought indoors for the winter. These shrubs are not only exceptionally cold hardy, but they are often too large for an indoor space. Container-grown Privet also benefits from staying outside through the winter.
Steps To Care For Privet in Winter
Privet is an easy-to-care-for shrub that will tolerate a wide range of winter weather.
Step 1 - Keep watering Privet in areas that have nighttime temperatures above 45 F.
Step 2 - Water less often as colder temperatures cause the soil to stay wetter longer.
Step 3 - If possible, move containers to a more sheltered position for the winter.
Step 4 - Planters that are not moveable may benefit from burlap or Agribon fleece wrapped around the outside.
Step 5 - Do not prune Privet after the end of August to help the shrub harden off in the coldest growing zones.
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Author Robbin Small - Published 9-18-2022