New Mexico privet can give privacy to your yard

I’m planning ahead and want to put in a privacy hedge of New Mexico privet. I would like it to be dense and plan to let it grow naturally and unpruned. How far apart should I space the plants?

— Joseph

Actually, the answer to your question depends a bit on the look you are trying to achieve and how patient you are.

New Mexico privet is a wonderful xeric shrub that will grow 10 to 20 feet tall. That size will vary depending on how much water the plant receives. Though it is very drought tolerant it will grow faster and get bigger with regular watering.

You could probably count on only watering it once every month or two (once it’s established) if you’re really trying to save on water, but watering once a week to twice a month will result in a plant that gets much bigger much more quickly.

New Mexico privet grows in a somewhat narrow, oval shape. You could plant them 6 to 8 feet apart but they wouldn’t fill out the hedge for five to 15 years and you may have some minor gaps in the hedge. Planting them 4 or 5 feet apart would probably give you a solid hedge in three to five years and ensure that the hedge is solid top to bottom and from end to end.

When is the best time to plant vines?

— Nicola

If the vine is growing in a pot, as most are these days, you can plant it almost any time of the year. When you plant a container plant, you’re not disturbing the roots; you just slide it out of the pot and into the ground.

Because you’re not disturbing the roots, there’s really no transplant shock. It doesn’t matter if it is 32 degrees or 102 degrees outside, the plant is just “changing addresses” and keeps chugging along.

Our landscaping crews typically plant from late February until early December in a typical year with great success.

I’ve heard people argue about spring being a better time to plant or that fall is the only time. I suppose that there could be small differences, but I think any advantage or disadvantage one way or the other is really insignificant. Personally, I plant in my yard when two things are present: The plant I’m looking for and the energy and enthusiasm to stick it in the ground.


This spring/summer my wisteria vine will have been in the ground for three years. It’s really healthy and has rich green leaves and sturdy branches, I’ve fertilized it with Miracle-Gro, but I have failed to get it to bloom. What ideas can you give me to make this beautiful bush bloom? At the present, I have it growing over an arch.

— Jerry

I’m afraid I don’t have any miracles for you. Chinese wisteria (the common one around here) can be notoriously slow to bloom. I have seen vines take as long as seven years to get started and have heard about instances when it took 12.

Before you go out there and dig up your vine, know that those are extreme cases.

Typically, I see wisteria starting to bloom after three to five years. As long as the plant is doing well, and it sounds like yours is, just hang in with it.

It will start blooming in its own sweet time, but some are later bloomers than others.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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