Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Variegatum'
Variegated California Privet
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Family: Olive family (Oleaceae)
Native Habitat: Japan

Here in the midwest, in the 1980s and 1990s, Golden Vicary Privet (Ligustrum x vicaryi) was a tremendously overplanted shrub. As people got tired of seeing it seemingly everywhere, customer demand for that plant dropped like a rock beginning in the late 90s. We stopped offering it in 2005. The problem with that scenario was that Golden Vicary Privet is actually a very good plant, tremendously overused, but still a really excellent shrub. It's easy to grow, adaptable, and has wonderful, bright, golden-yellow foliage color; which brings us to Variegated California Privet.

This is a wonderful underused shrub. It offers the same advantages as does Golden Vicary, and maybe a few more. It's easy to grow in full sun to part shade and is not the least fussy about soils. Upright  4" long panicles of small, tubular, white flowers are produced in early summer. The flowers have tremendous fragrance although its olfactory beauty is in the nose of the beholder. Some love the fragrance, others not so much. However, by far the best asset of this plant is its colorful foliage. The thick, shiny, leathery foliage is brightly variegated with wide margins of bright gold which surround irregularly shaped centers that are splotched yellow-green and olive. Upon close inspection, a pinkish tint is often seen at the edge of the leaf.

One puzzle about this plant. No one seems to know why it's called California Privet, especially since it is native to Japan.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Brightly variegated foliage with wide golden margins and centers of yellow-green and olive. Fragrant white flower panicles in early summer.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Semi-evergreen to deciduous upright growing shrub to 6 or 7 ft high and 4 or 5 ft. wide. Medium growth rate.
Landscape Uses:
Makes an outstanding hedge. Easily pruned. Also shrub border and foundation plantings. Deer resistant.
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 8
Easily grown in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except wet ones. Tolerant of urban conditions. Prune as needed. Hedges may be pruned several times a year.