Trees

Arboreal Privet (Ligustrum lucidum)

The Ligustrum lucidum is the perfect tree to plant in small spaces because it is beautiful, easy to care for and, most importantly, although it can reach impressive heights, it does not occupy much. In fact, due to these wonderful characteristics, it is usually included in urban trees, since it also provides a pleasant shade over time.

So if you are curious to know everything about it, then I am going to tell you just that: characteristics, care, and more.

Origin and characteristics

Image – Flickr/ Mauricio Mercadante

Our protagonist is an evergreen tree native to the southern half of China, where it is called my zhen zi. Its scientific name is Ligustrum lucidum, and in Spanish-speaking countries we call it arboreal privet, privet, privet or henna. It grows to heights between 3 and 16 meters, being the most common that it remains as a medium-sized tree of 7-8m.

The leaves are opposite, dark green or variegated (yellow and green) and 5-15cm long by 3-8cm wide. The flowers are grouped in inflorescences in spring, and are white, hermaphroditic and aromatic. The fruit is a bluish or blackish globose berry that is 1cm wide.

What is the care of Ligustrum lucidum ?

Would you like to have a specimen in your garden? If so, do not hesitate to provide these care:

Location

It is a plant that has to be outside, in full sun. It does not have invasive roots, but it is advisable to leave a space of at least 5 meters between walls, paved floors, etc. and him so that he can grow properly.

Earth

  • Flowerpot: it is not very demanding, but to go well it is necessary that the substrate to choose is rich in organic matter and, above all, that it be able to quickly absorb the water and filter the excess. With this in mind, a good mix can be the following: 50% mulch + 40% perlite + 10% akadama or pumice.
  • Garden: grows in fertile soils, with good drainage. It is afraid of waterlogging, so if you have a very compact soil it is advisable to dig a hole of at least 50cm x 50cm (better 1m x 1m), cover its sides and the base with a shading mesh and then fill it with the mixture mentioned above. To prevent this new substrate from mixing with the earth, a tree must be made (a barrier of earth around the trunk of the plant, with a height of about five centimeters).

Irrigation

Ligustrum lucidum ‘Variegata’ Image – Flickr/ MeganEHansen

Moderated. In principle, it will be necessary to water an average of 3-4 times during the hottest and driest time of the year, and around 1-2 times a week the rest. But be careful, if you live in an area where, for example, it rains very often, you will have to space the waterings; On the contrary, if it hardly rains in your area, you will have to water more often. In any case, waterlogging must be avoided as much as possible.

The water to be used can be calcareous (pH 7), although if you have a place available to put containers (buckets for example) in order to collect rainwater and then use that water for irrigation, the tree will undoubtedly appreciate it.

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From the beginning of spring to the end of summer (and even autumn if the weather is mild/ warm) it is advisable to fertilize it with organic fertilizers such as guano or manure, or homemade ones, such as egg and banana shells or compost among others.

You just have to bear in mind that, if grown in a pot, you have to use liquid fertilizers, since otherwise the water drainage will be complicated, and the roots could rot.

Pruning

Image – Wikimedia/ David J. Stang

It tolerates pruning very well, provided it is done in late winter. You have to remove dry, diseased, weak or broken branches, and trim those that are getting too long.

It is usually shaped into a ball, but in a garden you may like it better if it has a somewhat wide canopy to provide shade.

Multiplication

The Ligustrum lucidum multiplies by seeds in spring and cuttings in summer. Let’s see how to proceed in each case:

Seeds

The step by step to follow is as follows:

  1. First, put the seeds in a glass of water for 24 hours. The next day, discard (or sow them in a separate seedbed) those that have been floating, since they most likely will not germinate.
  2. Next, fill a seedbed (seedling tray, pot, or anything that is waterproof and has holes for drainage) with universal growing medium that will always stay moist.

    In about 1 month it will emit its own roots.

    Pests

    Image – Flickr/ Mauricio Mercadante

    The arboreal privet can be affected by mealybugs, either cottony or limpet-like. You will find them in the leaves and in the tender branches, feeding on the sap.

    They are fought with anti-mealybug insecticides, diatomaceous earth or with paraffins.

    Planting or transplanting time

    In spring, when the risk of frost has passed. If it is potted, transplant every two years.

    Rusticity

    It resists frosts down to -12ºC.

    What uses does it have?

    Image – Flickr/ mauroguanandi

    Ornamental

    It is a very decorative plant, which looks great as an isolated specimen, in groups or in alignments. In urban gardening it is used a lot, as it supports pollution well. In addition, it is not affected by high temperatures, as long as you have a regular water supply.

    As if that were not enough, it can be worked as bonsai ( here you have information about it).

    Medicinal

    In traditional Chinese medicine the fruits are used to treat tinkling in the ears and fatigue. But it is preferable not to consume them, at least not in excess, since they can be toxic.

    What did you think of the Ligustrum lucidum ?

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