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Ornamental flowering hedges: the privet

Photo by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

Among the shrub-like perennials, one cannot fail to mention the privet which is mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes and to create hedges.
This plant is native to Australia, but also to central and southern Europe and the northern part of Africa. In Italy it grows spontaneously and it is easy to find it almost everywhere.
This evergreen shrub can reach from two to five meters in height and is composed of an erect stem with large branches with a brown bark, accompanied by shiny foliage, lance-shaped in a beautiful bright green. The flowers are funnel-shaped and are made up of very small white petals. The main feature of these flowers is their fantastic perfume which attracts bees and all pollinating insects very much. This plant also has black berry-shaped fruits, gathered in a bunch.

Cultivation methods
It is preferable to place the privet in sunny places, but a shady position does not compromise its growth. This plant is very resistant to the summer heat, but it is also able to withstand winter temperatures well
Privet grows adapting to any type of soil, as long as it is well drained, but if you want to allow a better development, you will need to place it in a calcareous, fresh soil, mixed with sand or draining materials.
This evergreen plant manages to live without water even for a long time, simply with rainwater, although in the warmer regions it is preferable to water at least every three weeks. If, however, it is planted in pots, it is advisable to give water twice a week.

Main diseases and treatments
Like many plants, the privet is also subject to the art attack of aphids and the white fly and the stagnation of too much water can cause the roots to rot. In addition, an excessive supply of water, even rain, can make the plant prone to attack by some fungal diseases.

To combat infestation by parasites, it is possible to treat the privet shrub simply by spraying an insecticidal soap or other dedicated products. If you find yourself spending a harsh winter, it is recommended to protect the plant directly at the base through a coating of straw or dry leaves.

Curiosity
Privet has fruits, berries, which are very poisonous if they are ingested as they are rich in a glucoside that causes serious inflammation in the stomach and intestines, also causing circulatory paralysis and, sometimes, even death. Even leaves and bark can also irritate the skin in the most sensitive subjects.
Despite the ability to irritate, privet bark is also used to obtain a yellow dye. In addition, in the language of flowers this plant symbolizes youth.

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