Privet was brought to the United States from China to be used as an ornamental shrub on public and private land, roadsides, and forested urban areas. Now, multiplying without bounds, privet competes with local plants for light, nutrients, and water. Researchers believe that privet is now disrupting the native bee populations and other pollinators.
A study was conducted in the piedmont area of Georgia to see if removing privet would increase bee populations. Within a year, they discovered bee populations were larger and more diverse. Removing privet allowed the sunlight to reach the soil, where flowering plants began to flourish. Flowering plants and pollinators depend on each other, so when there are native plants available, bees and monarch butterflies will be supported.
Planting native milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers in your garden, along the roadside, and on public land, will invite pollinators to do their job. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on the milkweed plant, and it is their only source of food. Without it, the species will cease to exist. If you have privet in your yard, consider removing some of it to make room for native plants.
Chinese privet can be found in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, and can grow up to 12 feet. In order for this ornamental shrub to be controlled, it needs to be removed by the root or by using a glyphosate herbicide. The herbicide will affect all green vegetation, so it requires careful application. Plowing will only result in an increase of growth.
To help local ecosystems, remember, native plants are ALWAYS best. The monarchs and other butterflies, bees and pollinators need us to respect their needs for food and shelter.