Privet ‘Atrovirens’ or ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens’ was cultivated from the native shrub known as the common (or wild) privet. It differs from the wild privet in being hardier and more evergreen than its native ancestor, which means it will hold on to its rich green leaves longer than the common privet. Ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens’ will prove what it is capable of in colder areas, exposed sites and during exceptionally cold winters, as it is unlikely that it will shed its leaves in any of these circumstances. Other than being hardy and tough, privet ‘Atrovirens’ is popular for its vigorous growth habit, dense screening foliage and its ability to grow at an average rate of 30 centimetres a year.
Since the wild privet is native to the UK – it is in fact the only privet species native to the British Isles – you do not have to worry if this cultivar developed from its British “parent” will thrive in your British garden: it will. In fact, privet species in general are known to deal with circumstances that would be detrimental to most hedging plants available today. They will feel well on difficult soil, such as heavy, poor or chalky soils and will even feel happy growing in polluted areas. Because of this, privet hedges were a common sight among urban gardens during the Victorian age. Given the fact that the privet ‘Atrovirens’ is even sturdier than the wild privet, difficult circumstances hardly exist for this tough, undemanding hedge plant.
Privet ‘Atrovirens’: Year-Round Screening
Privet hedges are quite exceptional due to the fact that they will ensure year-round privacy, despite not actually being evergreen. When the days get colder, the leaves of a privet will dry out and take on a brown colour, but they will not actually drop until they are eventually replaced by new, green leaves during the next spring. This will allow proper screening, which is something of a rarity among deciduous hedge plants. When winters are particularly harsh, even privet hedges will be forced to shed their leaves, but such cold winters rarely occur in the UK and even if they do, new leaves will appear as soon as the temperatures rise again.
If you are uncertain whether the circumstances in your garden will allow a privet hedge to thrive during the winter, a privet ‘Atrovirens’ would be a wise choice, as it is able to withstand the cold even better than the wild privet. Like other species and varieties of privet, ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens’ bears white flowers in the summer that are followed by blackish berries, provided that your hedge is not pruned too often. The flowers of the privet ‘Atrovirens’ have a characteristic scent that is considered a bit of an acquired taste and they are often trimmed away in order to give the hedge a tidier, more formal appearance, but if you would like to do local wildlife a favour, we strongly recommend leaving at least a few on.
Privet ‘Atrovirens’ Hedge Maintenance
’Atrovirens’ is an easy and reliable plant, requiring nothing but a free-draining soil. A medium fertile soil is beneficial, especially after rigorous pruning, as the nutrients in the soil will stimulate growth. Privet can be grown in the sun or in dappled shade, but it will also tolerate deep shade. Privet is truly exceptional in being tolerant of all kinds of conditions that can be detrimental to other species of (hedging) plants, including sand, clay, lime, chalky soils and polluted areas. If you live in an area that is challenging to most other hedge plants, there is a good chance that a privet hedge will provide you with the screening opportunities and the natural elegance that you have been looking for all along.
Privet ‘Atrovirens’ is suitable for average to large hedges, ranging from 1 to 3 metres in height. This cultivar has an average annual growth rate of about 30 centimetres, which allows your hedge to reach its desired height in relatively little time. However, its relatively rapid growth rate also necessitates frequent pruning. Luckily, privet ‘Atrovirens’ is very tolerant of pruning, allowing even rigorous pruning sessions. It will recover from almost anything you choose to do to it. Trim as necessary to create either a natural, informal hedge or a neat, more formal hedge.
Privet ‘Atrovirens’: a Strong, Undemanding Hedge Plant
We would advise anyone who wants to grow a beautiful screening hedge in their gardens, but lives in an area that is traditionally difficult for hedging plants to consider a privet ‘Atrovirens’ hedge. It is strong, undemanding and will not bow to tough conditions such as pollution and exposure to wind. Additionally, its foliage has an elegance that will certainly enhance the appearance of your garden.