vitex pruning

poky(7)July 7, 2008

I have a chaste tree quickly growing into a very wide shrub. I would like to prune it into tree form, probably multiple trunk. Has anyone ever done this and can it be done this time of year. This is it's 2nd year. I knew it would grow fast and it still has some room but I like the tree form much better.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I've had a vitex for 8 or 9 years now and I think you can prune it up tree form if you want to. You also could do it pretty much any time of the year. I pruned mine into a tree form for probably 5 or 6 years and it was not as successful as I had hoped or expected. Because it grows so quickly, you'll have to be prepared to prune and prune and prune and prune. No matter how much you prune, it will never be as happy in the tree form as it will be in its natural shrubby shape. I finally decided to quit fighting Mother Nature and let the poor thing grow the way nature intended. I have not pruned it for about three years now and have let it revert back to its natural shape.

One problem I had with pruning it into a tree shape is that the limbs would inevitably break during a storm. Since I stopped pruning it into the tree form, I haven't lost a single limb.

To me, it just seemed pointless to spend the next umpteen years trying to make the vitex grow in a shape and manner that wasn't natural for it. But, that's just me, and I had plenty of space to let it be as shrubby as it wants to be. If I had planted it in a location where it needed to be maintained in tree form due to space limitations, I probably would have kept on pruning it and would have learned to live with losing limbs in windstorms every couple of years.

I do prune both Possumhaw Hollies and Southern Wax Myrtles (lots of both) into a tree shape and they tolerate it much better than the vitex did, and both require much less frequent pruning to maintain the tree form as both are slower-growing.

Good luck with your vitex--it is one of my favorite plants. When it is blooming, nothing looks prettier....and I look at it and think to myself "I should plant a dozen more of these".


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:22AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Poky: Are you near OKC? Nichols Hills Park has a bunch of them that are tree form. They look rather old, so that might be the trick.

My experience is similar to Dawn's. I keep mine pruned up, but you can prune and prune and prune on this tree. Next year I'm planning on cutting it to the ground and letting it resprout. My pruning has created a rather ugly tree!

Dawn, how big did yours get after you let it to natural?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:38AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lisa, It is a huge monster. Hold on.....I am going to walk outside right now and look at it and try to estimate its size. OK, I am back and it looks to be about 10 to 12' wide and roughly 12' to 15' tall. It has five main trunks that are about as big around as my wrist and about 6 or 8 smaller ones.

To tell you the truth, we had a VERY severe blue norther roll in a few winters back and our temperatures dropped from the 60s in the morning to about 15 degrees that night. The tree froze completely to the ground (it was pretty much our first below-freezing temp of the winter) and that was when I decided that, if it survived, I would let it grow naturally, So, we cut it off at the ground with a chainsaw in late February and it greened up probably in late April that year.

It has been growing happily ever since even though it is beginning to receive some shade from several nearby oak trees that are (finally!) attaining a decent height and spread.

By the way, some folks who live a couple of miles up the road from us have a vitex that is about 30 to 40 years old and it is magnificent. It has a spread and height of roughly 20' and is very healthy and has the most gorgeous flowers. I hope mine gets that big one of these days!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 11:18AM
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OK...I did it....looks a little pathetic right now...the wind is cut down a little in back so maybe it won't break.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 11:52AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

oh, it's so cute!!!

Here's what mine looks like

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:21PM
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bizydiggin(7 OKC)

OH, DH is not going to like this! Now I have to get a Vitex AND Mimosa!!!


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 2:05AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree) is one of the loveliest and toughest shrubs you'll ever see. It is such a tough survivor that in parts of Texas they are planted in highway medians where they survive only on rainwater. I have had mine wilt in our worst drought year we've seen here (21" of rain that year, and almost none fell for 3 months) but it has never dropped leaves and gone dormant. It blooms sporadically from mid-spring through the first frost, and I have had blooms on it as late as November and December in a mild year. The butterflies adore it and it performs much better than butterfly bush for me. Oh, and even though we all have blue ones, there is a pink-flowered one too. I have loved this plant since I was a child and it was one of the first trees I planted here.

Do you need one? Of course you do! With it AND a mimosa, you'll have blooms all summer long.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 5:50AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

This is why you need one!



    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:22AM
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