Rise and Shine with Sunshine ligustrum

By Karen Chapman, le jardinet

Feature Plant: Sunshine ligustrum (Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine' PP20379)

sunshine ligustrum close

Evergreen shrubs are the backbone of every good landscape design, where they add year-round color and structure. Sunshine ligustrum offers that and so much more. Since it does not need pruning to look its best and has no flowers to deadhead, it is reliably low maintenance – a boon for the busy homeowner. Bright sunny-yellow leaves ensure this hard-working shrub will wake up your landscape, a true garden highlight rather than a dreary backdrop, and the orange hue that appears on the winter foliage is a welcome bonus.

sunshine ligustrum in landscape

The modest size and habit of this sturdy shrub also offers the homeowner versatility. Sunshine ligustrum could be used within a mixed border as a bright accent, or planted as a hedge that could be sheared for size and shape or left to grow in its more natural form. It also makes an excellent container specimen, and being evergreen, can be used for long-term displays.

Full sun will ensure the brightest foliage, while partial shade will result in an attractive chartreuse hue rather than yellow. Either way, the foliage will combine well with any color scheme, whether you prefer rich jewel tones or pastels.

Deer typically ignore Sunshine ligustrum completely, although they may occasionally taste a convenient branch out of curiosity or if especially hungry. My experience, however, has been that the browsing damage in such instances is minimal.

Color Explosion

sunshine ligustrum and orange rocket barberry

Use this cheerful shrub to design a dramatic container garden that bursts with color from spring until fall. 

Combine Orange Rocket barberry and Sunshine ligustrum to establish a bold centerpiece in a glossy orange pot, allowing their upward facing branches to mingle, mimicking a passionate dance of fiery flames. Layer in front of these a large firecracker plant and an orange blooming begonia to continue the illusion of flying sparks. Balance these fiery colors with a cooling froth of ice-blue fan flower and the petite white blooms of Glitz euphorbia, both of which will mound gently over the container’s edge. Finally, introduce a feathery lotus vine to spill to the ground, selecting a variety whose scarlet blooms will play into the sizzling color scheme.  

sunshine ligustrum container planting

With such intense color, this container will be a focal point on the patio or porch. This bold statement piece could also be set within a garden border as seen here, repeating the color scheme of the pot plantings with the landscape itself.

This combination will thrive under the dappled shade of a deciduous tree or can be placed in full sun providing the begonia has some protection from direct afternoon sun. And if deer are a problem in your garden, you’ll be relieved to know these plants are typically ignored by them.

Plant list:

Sunshine ligustrum (Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine')

Orange Rocket barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’)

Bondi Blue fan flower (Scaevola aemula ‘Bondi Blue’)

Vermillionaire large firecracker plant (Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’)

Glitz euphorbia (Euphorbia graminea ‘Glitz’)

Sparks Will Fly begonia (Begonia ‘Sparks Will Fly’)

Scarlet lotus vine (Lotus berthelotii ‘Scarlet’)

Wake Up Call

Use Sunshine ligustrum in the landscape to brighten a dark backdrop. 

Tall, dense conifers such as arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), yew (Taxus sp.) or yew plum pine (Podocarpus sp.) are justifiably popular for privacy hedging, but their deep green color can be overpowering, especially in small spaces. 

Enliven the space by layering the sunny yellow foliage of Sunshine ligustrum in front of these, either as a lower, sheared hedge for a contemporary, graphic look, or as a repeating accent down the length of a long border where it could be interplanted with other colorful shrubs such as Obsession nandina for contrast. 

As a finishing touch the bed could be edged with Neverland agapanthus, whose chartreuse and gold variegated foliage would echo the colors of the ligustrum and the spherical blue flowers would provide a delightful summer floral display.

Together, these easy care plants would transform a predictable perimeter planting into a showcase border offering four season interest with colorful, evergreen foliage and summer blooms.

Cultural Details for Sunshine ligustrum

Hardiness: USDA zones 6-10, Sunset zones 4-24 

Light: Full sun-part shade 

Water: moderate once established

Mature size: 3-6 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide

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