Pruning a Vitex (chaste tree)
Hi everyone, this is my first post! :) My name is Nicole. I live in Ocala, Fl...which is supposedly Zone 9, but we definitely have chills into the teens most winters, so I am posting as Zone 8b.
This weekend, I went to the Extension Office's one day plant sale and got a $10 chaste tree, Vitex agnus-castus. I have seen them around here where they look filled out and full of blooms, so I know the potential of this small tree. I have also seen pictures of them trained as a central leader with a bushy top and they look lovely that way also.
Right now, the tree looks awful. It is about 5' high, one straight branch and a single offshoot from the bottom with a weak branch, about the size of a BBQ skewer. I know this tree needs pruning, but I am afraid of killing it!
If it would be helpful to post a picture, I can do that, but the description says it all...there is nothing to this tree but a stick with some leaves coming out of the sides. The smell is wonderful though, kind of a sage smell. Is this tree related to Cannabis incidentally? The leaves sure look like it, even the smell is slightly reminiscent of...not that I would know about such things ;)
So, does anyone have any advice on what I should do? I notice from Googling about this tree is widely planted in Texas, not so much in Central Florida. Similar zones, so maybe I should post in Texas gardening forums also...
In the meantime, does anyone know what I should do to encourage bushiness? I am thinking I will plant it somewhere and wait until December to trim it, leaving it 2 feet above ground. Plenty of mulch and a deep water once a week.