Q: Can you give me some information about a plant called Jack Frost?
Q: I am embarrassed to say I don’t know this, but I feel comfortable asking you. My landscaper will be replacing some of my hedges and he wants to use a plant called Jack Frost. I don’t know what he is talking about – can you give me some information about this plant?
A: Never feel embarrassed, none of us came into the world with instant knowledge but we learn everything little by little as we grew older. Plants are very complex with thousands of varieties making it impossible to know all of them. In addition, the older I get the less I am able to retain the names of things – so you are in good company!
I believe your landscaper is talking about a special cultivar or variety of ligustrum, Ligustrum japonicum ‘Variegatum’ called Jack Frost. It should have all the same characteristics of the standard ligustrum but the leaves will be glossy green with a creamy white edge. Remember if you decide to use them as a hedge they should be clipped as tall as possible and they should be kept smaller on the top and wider at the bottom which is more of a traditional tree shape. This tree/shrub can grow up to 12 feet tall and spread as wide as 25 feet so allow plenty of room for the width. Pruning shrubs wide at the top and thinner at the bottom is a poor pruning practice which will ultimately cause shrubs to be spindly and bare at the bottom. Keeping them wider at the bottom allows for a larger area of leaves to be exposed to sunlight which encourages the shrub to grow full and bushy. One other important thing to remember – most of the disease issues on ligustrum and other common shrubs are caused by too much water. After establishment, most woody shrubs do not need to be irrigated weekly in the same manner as lawns. For more information about the variegated form of ligustrum please read the University of Florida publication: http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/ligjapb.pdf