Pruning Privet

Pruning is a great way to keep your Privet healthy and shapely in the landscape. This task should be done at certain times during the growing season for best results. Pruning too early in the spring can mean the loss of flower buds, while pruning too late in the fall can severely damage the shrub's health. Privet is also easily rejuvenated if pruning has not been kept up or the overall vigor of the shrub has declined.


When to Prune Privet

The amount and frequency of pruning Privet will depend on whether you want the shrubs to flower in the spring. The cultivars that flower do so on old wood from the previous season. Pruning early in the spring will result in no flowers. Waiting to prune after the flowers are finished early in the summer will give the hedge a more natural appearance.

Pruning can begin earlier in the spring if the goal is a tightly clipped and formal hedge or topiary. For fast-growing Privet, you can prune out any wayward growth once a month through the summer. For gardeners who want a more relaxed-looking privacy hedge, you can prune once at mid-summer. All pruning should stop by late August to help the shrub harden off for the winter.


Why Prune Privet

Regular pruning of Privet helps the plant to form dense foliage growth on all parts of the branches. The action of clipping the tips off will spur the development of leaf buds further down the branches. When Privet is left unpruned, the leaf growth can become sparse farther back on the branches. Rejuvenation pruning will result in vigorous, dense new growth. Cut all branches to within 8-12 inches of the soil in late winter. Fertilize the plants with a slow-release granular formula with an N-P-K ratio near 15-5-10.


How to Prune Privet

Step 1 - Shear the branches after flowering ends in the early summer

Clipping or shearing the branch tips will spur more leaf growth down the stems. 

Step 2 - Clip topiary shapes up to once a month through the summer

Privet tolerates repeated clipping due to its fast growth. Formal shapes and hedges need clipping regularly to keep their tidy appearance.

Step 3 - Rejuvenation pruning needs to be done in the late winter

Privet will benefit from a hard cutting back when its growth declines or leaf growth is only at the end of branches. Cutting to within 1 foot of the ground will quickly spur new branches and foliage. Flowering may not occur for 1-2 seasons after rejuvenation pruning.

Privet Pruning Tips

  • Prune after flowering in the early summer for a more naturalistic shape
  • Prune excess growth once a month during the growing season for more formal hedges and topiary shapes
  • Rejuvenation may be required if the vigor of the shrub declines

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Author Robbin Small - Published 9-18-2022