Plants such as Sunshine Ligustrum grow best if they are fertilized once in the spring and again in early summer. Sunshine Ligustrum favors nutrient rich soil and ample fertilization. Sunshine Ligustrum benefits from an fertilizer which can help raise the acid level of the soil such as Holly-Tone by Espoma. When selecting a fertilizer for your Sunshine Ligustrum, if soil Ph is not an issue a simple balanced fertilizer can be used such as Tree-tone.
Either chemical fertilizers or organic matter can be used successfully. Since an organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil, this would be an excellent first line of attack. Organic additions to the soil can also be combined with a shot of chemical fertilizer for maximum effect.
If you choose to use chemical fertilizers on your Sunshine Ligustrum, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring is probably the simplest solution. There are many slow-release fertilizers on the market. If you can find a fertilizer formulated for shrubs and trees, this fertilizer would work well on Sunshine Ligustrum. However, slow-release is certainly not the only way to fertilize shrubs such as Sunshine Ligustrum although truth be told I feel its the best. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the summer. If you are looking for a fertilizing routine tailored to your specific conditions, a soil sample should be taken and the fertilizer and trace elements matched to the needs of your soil.
Don’t fertilize Sunshine Ligustrum after August in the North. Fall is the time for Privet to begin preparing for dormancy. Fertilizing at this time may stimulate new growth that will be too tender to withstand the winter. In the South, a late summer into September application would be about right. As mentioned one spring application of a balanced fertilizer should more than suffice.
The amount of chemical fertilizer used per plant will vary with the size of the plant and it’s root system. Over-fertilization can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization. “Fertilizer burn” can occur when too much fertilizer is applied, resulting in a drying out of the roots and damage or even death of the plant. It is much, much better to err on the side of too little fertilizer than too much. When roots are burned, the first sign is often scorched looking leaves. If over-fertilization is severe, the plant may just wilt and die.
Ligustrum Recurvifolium is very easy to grow however it may be helpful to know that a very small plant which is planted in the ground will take about 1/8 – 1/4 cup of espoma organic shrub-tone fertilizer. When fertilizing privet grown in containers, be careful to apply a fertilizer that will not burn the roots (such as a slow release or a liquid fertilizer). A very large established privet in the ground will take 2 – 3 cups of plant-tone spread around the drip line of the branches (not next to the trunk). This is a very loose estimate, so please read the directions on the fertilizer before applying it.
Never fertilize a plant with a chemical fertilizer if the plant looks sick or wilted. If a plant is struggling due to a disease or root problems, the fertilizer will only add stress to it’s life. Try to cure the problem before adding fertilizer.
For a totally organic approach, many gardeners use commercial manure on the soil around shrubs such as Sunshine Ligustrum. Excellent results have been reported by visitors to this site after using composted manure. Commercial manure or compost can be applied once in the spring around the base of the Sunshine Ligustrum. As with chemical fertilizers, do not apply it right next to the trunk or stems emerging from the ground.