Privet Bonsai Tree

The word “privet” refers to a type of plant from the genus Ligustrum that encompasses at least fifty varieties of plant. Privets are best known for their appeal as decorative hedges, although their ability to be shaped and pruned makes them ideal bonsai trees.

Their hardy natures and low maintenance requirements make them excellent choices for bonsai gardeners who are just beginning to practice the art of bonsai.

Scientific/Botanical NameLigustrum lucidum
DescriptionPrivets are indigenous to Japan, China and Korea. They are commonly used as residential hedges. Their responsiveness and amenability to pruning make them particularly suitable as bonsai trees. The trees produce white blooms in the spring and berries in the fall.
PositionPrivets are hardy and highly-adaptable, and while they prefer full sun, they will also grow successfully in full shade. They may be grown inside, as well as outdoors. Privet bonsai trees prefer protection in areas where temperatures fall below 40o Fahrenheit.
WateringPrivets are tolerant of drought, but a schedule of regular watering is necessary for optimal growth.
FeedingIt is best to use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to feed the tree every two weeks from spring to early-summer, then once each month thereafter.
Leaf and Branch PruningPrivets are fast growers, so constant trimming will be needed throughout the growing season. It is advisable to prune new shoots back to only two leaves in each group of leaves that emerge. Cut away nutrient-sapping root suckers as they appear. Any major pruning should occur early in the spring, before the emergence of new growth. Roots respond well to trimming.
Re-potting & Growing MediumRe-pot the tree every year, trimming roots at the same time. A soil that comprises a 60/40 mix of aggregates and organic matter is ideal.
WiringPrivet stems are highly flexible, and are very responsive to wire shaping. It is best to undertake wiring in late springtime.
NotesBecause of its easy care and its flexibility, the privet bonsai is appealing to amateur and experienced bonsai gardeners alike.

Types Of Privet Bonsai Trees

Out of the forty or fifty types of Privet, three of those are the most popular bonsai tree choices. Ligustrum Ovalifolium (Oval Leaf Privet), Ligustrum Vulgare (Common Privet), and Ligustrum Sinense (Chinese Privet) are the types of Privets most often chosen for bonsai trees due to their pleasing shapes, dense clusters of small, white flowers, and their shapely, spherical black fruit.

Procuring A Privet Bonsai Tree

One obvious method of obtaining a Privet bonsai tree is to purchase one from a plant store or to order one off of a reputable online dealer. The benefits of doing so largely deal with avoiding the work of cultivating a seedling or snippet to maturity, although some bonsai gardeners prefer to participate in every aspect of the bonsai growing experience.

Those who take this approach may want to obtain their own Privet bonsai tree by growing them from seeds or from a hedge being removed by someone.


A Privet bonsai tree that has been taken from hedging material will need a year or two to get used to life in a container. The Privet bonsai’s thick, massive root system will ensure that the plant adapts quickly to being planted in a container, but it is still important to not rush the process. Thickening the trunk of the Privet bonsai tree before true planting is also important as this will help greatly with future Privet bonsai tree maintenance.


Since Privet bonsai trees are so hearty, they thrive in most types of soil. While the soil needs to be well drained, they will prosper in any good potting soil. The ideal potting soil composition is comprised of about sixty percent aggregate (such as pumice or clay pellets) and approximately forty percent organic matter (compost or potting soil), but the exact balance and mixture is not a precise science.

As far as planting location goes, Privet bonsai trees are hearty plants that can withstand anything from full sun to deep shade. Full sun is preferable as this increases the odds of the Privet bonsai producing flowers and fruit, and Privet bonsai trees can also grow successfully indoors so long as the humidity rate is maintained and the tree is not set out during the winter months without having had the opportunity to harden during the autumn.

Watering And Fertilizing

The hardy nature of Privet bonsai trees ensures that the bonsai gardener does not need to water the plant as precisely as some other bonsai trees require. The Privet bonsai tree should be watered regularly, especially during the summer months.

On especially hot days, the gardener may need to water the Privet bonsai tree twice a day, but the gardener must make sure to not water the Privet bonsai too much. The hardiness of the Privet bonsai tree notwithstanding, it is still susceptible to over watering and root rot if the pot is not well draining. It is time to water the Privet bonsai when the topsoil is dry in appearance and to the touch.

General fertilizers are sufficient to feed the Privet bonsai tree, although some claim that nitrogen rich fertilizers applied during the mid-spring to early summer months are ideal for producing the best growth and flowering.

Some experts recommend fertilizing the plant once during the spring and once during autumn, while others claim that the gardener should fertilize the Privet bonsai tree once a month during the year and twice a month during the growing season.


Privet bonsai trees grow quickly, so bonsai gardeners should be ever vigilant in regards to trimming new growth. Since Privet bonsais produce clusters of seven or so leaves of new growth at a time, gardeners should prune this new growth back to about two leaves of new growth per grouping.

Suckers that appear near the base should be trimmed completely as these will divert much needed nutrients from the leaves at the top of the Privet bonsai tree. The best time for gardeners to prune their Privet bonsai trees is during the early Spring days before new growth begins.


Privet bonsai trees respond well to both wiring and shaping by trimming. The flexibility of Privet bonsai bark ensures that the bonsai trees will respond well to wire shaping, and the fast growing nature of the bark will ascertain that any wire scars will heal quickly as long as they are not too deep.

Wiring should be done in late Spring, although gardeners should make sure not to damage any of the branches too badly during this process.


Privet bonsai trees should be repotted every year, and the roots should be trimmed back once every two or three years. The Privet bonsai’s dense and fibrous root system responds well to root trimming, although the tendency of the Privet bonsai is to cease growing once the plant gets used to living in a pot.

The Privet bonsai tree is an excellent choice for amateur bonsai gardeners that want to grow a bonsai tree without worrying about killing it off as well as for expert bonsai gardeners who wish to add variety to their bonsai gardens with little to no fuss.

In spite of all of the Privet bonsai’s virtues and positive qualities, this type of plant is not used as often for bonsai trees as people might think. Those who grow Privet bonsai trees appreciate their flexibility and easy care.