Watering Privet

The Oleaceae family of plants tends to be long lived and can be incredibly drought tolerant. Privet is part of the Olive tree family. These plants are adapted to a Mediterranean climate, which is hot, dry, and exceptionally sunny, but the winters can have heavy rains. Thorough watering and excellent drainage are essential to help Privet to thrive.


How To Tell If Privet Needs to be Watered

Most cultivars of Privet have thick, glossy leaves that do not readily show the signs of stress-induced moisture loss. Mature Privet may display leaves that turn brown, curling on the edges and falling off the plant altogether when it's thirsty. Shrubs that need watering might have bending growth points at the top or leaves that start to turn yellow around the edges. 

How Often To Water Privet

A newly planted Privet will require weekly deep watering. The general amount of 1 inch per week is sufficient for young Privets to establish well. Watering once a week and allowing the soil to dry in between will encourage the root system to grow deeper. Deeper roots will ensure that Privet becomes more drought tolerant. Using soaker hoses or drip irrigation from the beginning helps to make the chore much more manageable, especially for watering a long hedge. The watering will be even and deep and can be controlled by timers for convenience. Applying a mulch of organic material around the root zone helps the soil retain moisture longer and keeps it at a cooler temperature while the young plants establish.

Once Privet is established, watering can be reduced. If there is no rain, supplemental watering every 10-14 days will be sufficient. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses that use timer systems should be reset to reflect the need for less supplemental watering. During periods of high heat, a weekly watering will help Privet stay hydrated with little stress. Watering will need to continue in areas with mild winter temperatures above 45 degrees F. Overwatering is more common in the winter when soils are colder. Make sure that at least 3-4 inches of the topsoil are dry before watering in the winter.

Privet that grows in a container will need supplemental watering no matter how mature. Smaller pots may need to be checked for watering daily in the hottest and driest areas. Water until it comes out of the drainage holes. Let the top 1-2 inches of soil dry between watering sessions to ensure the roots are not overwatered.


Best Time To Water Privet

Privet will do best with watering early in the day. This gives the leaves time to dry off if they get sprayed. Also, soils that are cooler in the morning absorb water easier than in the afternoon, and the plants transpire less during early morning hours. Watering is only needed when there are no natural rains. Privets grown in a zone with heavy summer rains will need much less water than in dry climates. Provide 1½ inches of water every 10-14 days. Watering can continue in the winter as long as the nighttime temperatures exceed 45 F.

How to Water Privet

Step 1 - Water newly planted shrubs consistently.

One inch of water is needed every week. A long watering session will help the roots grow deeper in the soil and become more resistant to drought.

Step 2 - Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the most efficient watering methods. 

Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can be put on a timer to make watering easier. As the plants mature, the timer can be reset to give the shrubs time to dry out between irrigation sessions.

Step 3 - Overwatering is easy when the temperatures cool late in the summer and fall.

Check for soil dryness before watering early in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler. Roots that sit in cold, wet soils may rot and can cause plant death.

Step 4 - Container-grown Privet should be allowed to dry between waterings.

Let the soil dry out 1-2 inches from the surface before watering. Water the container thoroughly, letting the water drain from the holes.

Privet Watering Tips

  • Privet is drought tolerant when mature
  • Encourage the roots to grow deep in the ground by watering deeply, less often.
  • Water early in the day when the soil is cooler and will absorb more water.
  • Drip irrigation is an efficient and convenient method of watering long sections of hedges. 

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Author Robbin Small - Published 9-18-2022