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Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Posted by schoolhouse z5/ohio (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 12:35

I just bought this awhile ago - purely a compulsion buy. It is so beautiful I just had to have it. Only now I have to find a spot for it!

Irvin, Amish nursery guy, told me it wouldn't get much bigger than it is now. In fact, he knew very little about it, as the tag had only the latin name on it. He said his supplier "talked him into buying some for his nursery". Well, I came home and got online right away. Here it is called Chaste Tree and can grow 10 - 15'! Oh my. Also, it may not be hardy in my zone. Irvin did mention something about cutting the top of it back in the fall, so he must have had an inkling it would get tall.

There was alot of very interesting information about the medicinal properties of the Chaste Tree throughout history as well.

The blooms look similar to a butterfly bush, but bigger and more compact. The foliage is quite different too. But isn't it pretty? Now, what can I relocate to make room for it? But not right away, as we are to have temps in the mid to high 80's next week again.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

i'd love to have a chaste tree. I take the supplements now, so having something that I could take care of myself would be great. Didn't think they were hardy here though. Let me know how it goes next year :) I might have to try it


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 13:08

It's going to be a stretch for you to keep it alive. They're only hardy to zone 6 with protection.

Mine blooms in May. I don't cut it back.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vitex


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I did another search, specifically typing in "growing Chaste Tree in Ohio"; and found that I can expect it to reach appx. 4'. Only in warmer zones will it get 10' or higher. Altho if planted in a protected area, it may do better in zones 5 and 6. Apparently it is much like a butterfly bush, and will die back in the winter and return in Spring. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I paid over $30 including tax. (gulp)

Pruned to tree form at 10-15' it would be spectacular wouldn't it? I read on one site that a park had planted a line of them. Bet that's pretty.


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taking a chance

I didn't see your post natal until I submitted my last one. Yes, I'm a little concerned now. I'd have to move a nice evergreen I planted last year, but it would be the best place to try the Vitex.

Live and learn....or read up on something before you buy. :)


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 13:59

You could always grow it in a container. That would make it easier to protect in the winter.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I've been considering a vitex tree, too. I can't decide... I may put another ornamental cherry tree in... or a butterfly bush or something else. who knows. :) too hot for me to plant now anyway.

Good luck with your vitex, it's lovely! At Descanso Gardens they let them get big in the middle of rose beds. They make a lovely backdrop!


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

In the middle of a rose bed, wouldn't that be lovely indeed.

I thought I had made up my mind where to plant it, but now I have to consider the fact that if I remove the evergreen (young Blue Moss Cypress) and put the Vitex there; and the Vitex dies.....

Yes, very hot today and even hotter (89) here tomorrow. No thunderstorm tonight after all, storms will begin to come in Sunday and then supposedly we'll have a whole week of wet. Before which would be an ideal time to plant really.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

This is a 4 year-old vitex in my garden, zone 7b. Photo was taken in the evening, because it's difficult to photo this area without bright sunlight during the day.

I have a love-hate relationship with it. Mine is an unnamed variety. I used to cut it back at the same time as buddleia in late February. It got too tall. It seeds out everywhere and that is my issue with it. The bees and butterflies go crazy over it and even the hummingbirds sip from the blooms.

I trim up the trunk to keep it shaped so that we can still use the garden path. When it was planted, it was in the meadow and I ended up expanding the garden out and around it. The self-sowing wasn't a problem when it was baking in the meadow. But, with rich garden soil....


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 18:53

Cameron, isn't that something? I've never found a single seedling from mine. I wonder what the difference is?


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Cameron, thanks for the input. Wow, yours is big alright and looks beautiful. I did read an old post on GW about Vitex and someone also had trouble with the seeding down. And would you believe since I brought it home and sat it temporarily in the courtyard, one hummingbird, two butterflies and a couple bees have visited. I kept telling Irvin that the scent reminded me of something but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Now I think it might be sage? I also read that it was called Monk's Pepper (for a pretty funny reason too).

natal - really love the fencing and arbor. The blue of Vitex looks so nice with it. Thanks for posting the pic.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Schoolhouse, I do hope it returns for you next year. I had purchased one a few years ago (in SC). I was going to a plant swap in MA and still hadn't planted it. I figured I was just sentencing it to death by possibly planting it in my zone so I gave it away at the plant swap where they are Z6. I have heard that in Z6 it will die back like a butterfly bush. It really is one of my all-time favorite trees and one that I have particular zone envy over. I would be so interested to hear how it over-winters for you as I am still very tempted to try one.

Hey, even as a very expensive annual the plant you purchased is gorgeous!! Especially since you're already getting winged critters visiting it!

Cameron and Natal those are beautiful photos! Makes me want one even more!!!


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Mine must be a girl! :-)

I also have a Shoal's Creek without a seed problem and more robust blooms. I have raised an offspring of the seedy one, but I planted it out in the meadow where it is surrounded with grass instead of garden soil. The Black Swallowtail butterflies have bronze fennel just above the big tree. They love to go to the vitex to pupate. It's such a good wildlife tree.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 21:30

Now that you mention Shoal's Creek I think that's what mine is.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

thyme, I'll be sure to top this thread next Spring.

Well, maybe I should plant it in the orchard garden then with all the wild flowers, weeds and cast-off perennials. I already have a butterfly bush there, Culvert Root, Loosestrife, milkweed and others; but it's so pretty I wanted it closer to the house near or in the courtyard garden.

I wish I wouldn't have stopped at that darn nursery! :)


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I did the same thing. I bought one on impulse because the leaves were so pretty- and it started to take over the world- ended up pulling it out and giving it to a buddy who has a wild yard. It looks great with his huge native plants and sages.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

You might actually consider returning it. I would hate to see you remove an evergreen, which will give you yearlong performance in your zone. You could keep it in a container and keep it pruned to size. It probably won't grow very large in a container, but you will have to move it into a protected area in winter. You might chance planting it if you can find a protected area maybe against a brick or stone wall and south facing? I bought one this year, but it was a very good sale price, and I planted in a wild garden on side of garage. I have seen them get pretty large, so I plan to basically espalier mine against the brick wall. I like to prune and shape and have other espalier plants, so it's ok with me.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

schoolhouse -- the blooms on yours do not look like the blooms on my seedy chaste tree. You may have Shoal Creek.

Still, it will be difficult to get it to overwinter in zone 5. These are very late to show green foliage in spring, even in my zone 7b, it can be around May.

When I push the zone on cold hardiness for plants, I place stones around the base in winter to help soak up sun to keep the roots warm.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Cameron, that's a great idea about the stones around the base of plants to keep the roots warm. I have so much big rock in my yard I usually try to plant zone-pushers near them, but I'm going to take your advice when I want to zone-push in an area where I don't have any large rock even if it is in a sheltered spot. Thanks for that tip.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I have plenty of stone, that's for sure; and the only name on the tag is "Vitex angus castus". When I went online, I thought that I read it is a shorter version.

Thanks for all the insight on this shrub/tree. Time to get a cup of coffee, pull up a chair in the garden and stare at this Vitex for awhile until I decide what to do. :)


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I have a couple of trees I started from seed a few years ago. Mine don't seem to get taller than 6' or so, in our cool summer zone 8. The bloom is pretty but not very long compared to butterfly bush and though I have 2 they don't set any fruit, which I think is the medicinal part, so they don't seed around any.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

That's true hemnancy, you'd have to think about what it would like most of the season in the spot you chose to plant it, since it doesn't bloom long. Do you cut yours back to the ground in March or so like the butterfly bush? The one I bought seems to have good sized, thick multi-trunks already.

Did you keep them pruned to tree shape?


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

That's a real beauty schoolhouse.
Your blooms are a darker blue than mine are. Really pretty.

They are listed on the state wildlife habitat recommendation list for planting in Oklahoma (zones 6-7a). They grow on the OSU campus (Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater around the Theta Pond (if you know where that is located).

Someone in the southwestern desert sent me seeds from her bushes several years ago. She said they grew easily from seed, and she was right. I grew my two shrubs from seeds. I don't know the variety of mine. Mine are three years old from when I sowed the seeds. I grew them in the greenhouse the first winter. The bigger one has been in the ground for two summers and two winters - the other I just set out about 6 weeks ago. Both doing great. In fact, the smaller one sat out all last winter in that plastic pot and it came back out with no die back. I was amazed. They went dormant, but did not die back, so must be fairly hardy to winter over in zone 6b/7a where I live.

The bigger one is blooming it's second year, but much prettier blooms this year. It is just a little bit bigger than yours in the container.

Here's my bigger one. You can see it is still small, but starting to take off finally. It was just beginning to bloom when I took this picture at the end of June.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I hope they both become big shrubs and have lots of blooms every summer.

For your zone, I would mulch it really well this fall and then cut it back some next spring in April to keep it bushy and shorter. Here the cut back date is around March, so I am just guessing about when you should do it there. And yes, pruned back just like you do a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia).

~Annie


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Great. Then my decision is to plant it in the orchard among the other "wilds", mulch, give it a pat for good luck and see what happens. There is usually alot of snowfall - friend or foe?

Too hot today to plant, although the weatherman says a chance of rain every day starting next Tuesday(?)so it would be good to get in as soon as possible to take advantage of the moisture. He hasn't been right so far with his predictions, so we shall see.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I think "gottagarden" has one and she lives in western NY, and gets gobs of snow too. You might ask her, but they are pretty tough shrubs. We don't get as much snow as you do, but we have ice storms from hell with 2-3 ft of snow on top of the inch of ice and mine is doing okay.

I've only watered mine a few times since I set them out.
Not bothered by bugs, deer or rabbits. Great plant.

I plan on planting one on the southside of the house to provide more shade on that hot side of the house and some summer bloom color. Blues are a great cooling color in the heat of summer.

I love Chaste trees - AKA "Summer Lilacs"

~Annie


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I thought about planting it up front on the south side of the house too. I really don't plant much there, right against the house because I like the lines of the building and plantings just seem to distract; but further out into the yard (where the redbud trees are) might work. Like you say, it would give some summer color.

Yours is a good looking plant at three yrs.,esp being grown from seed.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Oh, I think it would be a perfect plant for your courtyard!

I can envision it hanging over the stonework path where it would cast a bit of shadow across the courtyard or just the path and provide a cool blue in the heat of summer. The leaves and blooms are a perfect cooling color with your green furniture too.

Of course, I have no idea where you thought of placing it in the courtyard, but anywhere you would place it is bound to be fantastic. Look what you've done already!
Go with your instincts.

~Annie


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I am growing Shoal Creek here in my Zone 6 garden. It never gets over 3-4 feet tall. I don't do anything special for it. It is on the south side of the smokehouse. I do treat it very much like the buddleia. Mine doesn't bloom very long; I was disappointed in that. The beetles seem to enjoy the blooms................


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Early this morning before I started on anything else, I toted that Vitex around and around the property, sitting it here and there and then standing back and wondering if it would work, looking at it from all angles. Never did plant the thing. UGH.

I think I'd better as soon as possible though because yesterday afternoon it wilted. Alarmed, I gave it another big drink of water and then it rained last night; so it looks ok today. Probably root bound.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I bought one last year and it lived throught the winter just fine, although they are very late to leaf out in spring. I'm zone 5 with lots of snow and bitter winters. (near Buffalo) I probably need to move it given it's size, but I usually like to grow something for a while before deciding on its permanent location.

It's a beauty, and I did nothing special to overwinter it. I bought it from bluestone perennials and they said zone 5 safe.

Crossing my fingers!


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I have a chaste tree that I also put in a pot, albeit a very large pot, but it was busting out of there within a couple of years, so I moved it to a circular bed in the middle of my backyard where it is encircled by Little Richard abelias. (It WAS surrounded by autumn ferns as well, but those mostly died in this horrid summer we've suffered.) My question is, How can I keep the chaste tree looking neat at ground level? When I took it out of the pot, I pruned it into a lovely tree shape. It's SO hardy and thrived through our terrible summer just as it did in the totally unsuitable pot, but it's always unkempt looking with all the little suckers coming out at its base. Is there anything I can do to stop that habit? If I keep trimming the shoots, will they go away?


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

miller2440
I have 5 vitex trees. Four bloom blue and one blooms pink.
The pink is the hardiest and has reached 15 feet high and across.

I have to prune/shape them often, almost as often as wisteria. And yes it never stops. Where you prune off a small limb multiple sprouts occur, and they are forever sprouting at the trunk base.

On the positve side they are extremely drought tolerant here in East Texas.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I have one that I grew from seed & really love it. Love the color, so far it hasn't reseeded. I hadn't heard that about it, I guess I've been lucky so far. I'll be sure to cut the flowerheads off tomorrow. Mine doesn't die back to the ground, but isn't over 6' tall, although it gets just a bit bigger every year. Mine isn't in a particularly protected part of the yard, I would think if you planted it with protection it would do fine.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

My Shoal Creek surprised me this year. After the first bloom, it grew a couple of feet and bloomed again! I was delighted. I am very pleased with it.

I think you can see where the regrowth began.

From September 2010

It is such a pretty blue

From September 2010


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I have wanted to grow one for awhile and plan to when I get the chance. Hope you will have good luck with it this winter. Maybe mulch thickly around it? I know with hydrangea that was not quite hardy, one year I filled a plastic milk crate with leaves and put that over it. It was small enough, and it worked. If you can surround it with chicken wire in the same way or some such contraption and fill with leaves? I wonder if anyone has tried that? If you have a sheltered position to plant it in, that would help too.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I am so glad i opened this thread! I saw this shrub in someones yard but had no idea what it is. Now i realized i need it. So pretty!!! And maybe the tree form will be perfect.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Mine has three "trunks",spaced wide apart, no central leader. I'm disappointed that I didn't think about choosing one more inclined to be pruned to tree form; but if it does grow tall, say 5'-6' it could still look nice if lower branches are trimmed off.

As of today, it looks healthy despite the lack of rain we've had. I'll mulch it well again before winter and keep my fingers crossed.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, May 11, 12 at 16:32

Schoolhouse, do you still have the Vitex? Does it die back to the ground every winter? Someone in zone 5 on the Landscaping forum is asking about them.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

The Chaste Tree died. It started out great that July and into Fall, then in the Spring of 2011 it leafed out, but wilted. Was struggling and finally looked so sad that I decided to give up on it. I moved it down to the edge of the veggie garden just because there was SOME life left in it and I didn't have the heart to pitch it. By Fall it appeared dead but I let it remain there just in case the roots were still alive. No life this Spring. I tested the wick and there was no green in any of the woody stems.

I cut it back like a Butterfly Bush as suggested by others, but I can't say whether or not that hurt or helped as it didn't live long enough to test that practice.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, May 11, 12 at 19:02

I'm sorry to hear that. I'll pass along the information. Thanks.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I am sorry, too. I have two here in zone 7 (northern VA-DC area) that I never cut back. I bought them maybe three/four years ago. They are about 6 feet tall now. they did make it through the year we had 58 inches of snow -I loved that winter! I also wish I had chosen ones with a central leader, so they could be more tree-like. The one in the back is closer to that, but out front, it looks like a mult-stemmed shrub. Still pretty, though. Maybe you could try again, but not cut it back and see what happens.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

They root very easy. I stuck a branch in a pot to use as a stake and it rooted. They also root in water.
Even with a central leader they will grow suckers.
We had 4 or 5 across the front of our porch when I was a kid. One day I was playing jacks and watching a humming bird flying around them. All of a sudden something jumped out and grabbed the hummer. It was a large anole. Of course I was screaming and crying, but before I could get it the anole ate it.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sat, May 12, 12 at 12:21

The anole ate the bird? We have anoles and they love to hang around the hummer feeders, but I've never seen them attack a bird.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

No. I am getting forgetful. Guess I hadn't had eough coffee. It was a praying mantis.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sat, May 12, 12 at 13:39

Ok. I've heard of that. Hope I never see it IRL.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I went on a garden tour today and spoke with one of the homeowners about their Vitex, which is quite old. I mentioned the suckering when cutting off the lower branches and how hers didn't look like she had that issue. She said she still does get suckers some but not very many. Eventually they quit trying. :)

I've got to get out there and strip mine off --again... just like the crepe myrtles.


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

My chaste tree was removed last fall. This spring, we put down landscape fabric to smother any leftover seedlings, then covered that with gravel to turn the area into a wide path!

No regrets! I've spent the last week rearranging plants into places up the slope that used to be shaded out by the vitex. We still have two out in the grassy meadow where the soil is too hard to grow seeds.

Cameron


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

I grabbed my camera just awhile ago and then came right back here to post this pic. My Chaste Tree isn't dead at all! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I decided to clear away tall grasses, weeds, and leaves from a nearby rose bush and at the same time I pulled some away from the "dead" Vitex. And here is what I found - new leaves around the bottom of it! Last Fall I had heaped shredded leaves around it just as a last resort but assumed it hadn't helped. Do you think I should put the mulch (leaves) back and keep it covered awhile longer?


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

Vitex has been in bloom all over town and I have been snapping pictures will my cellphone. Forgive the fuzzy pics but I wanted to share about the beautiful tree, one of my favorites to stop and look at in bloom. Here it is definitely a tree, not a shrub, and my compatriot(e) Natal has a nice picture above of her good-looking Vitex. See my pics for interesting use on commercial property, similar to the way crepe myrtle is used here in both residential and commercial landscaping. Pretty!

Click "Next" to see all 4 photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vitex in bloom


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RE: Update Vitex or Chaste Tree

Congratulations, schoolhouse, just saw your post. How exciting! Sorry that I don't grow it myself and can't help. Wonderful news, looks healthy!


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RE: Vitex agnus castus - Chaste Tree

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, May 13, 12 at 12:43

Great news Schoolhouse! I went back through photos and see my Vitex was just beginning to leaf out mid March. Since I'm a couple months ahead of you the timing is right for yours.

I wouldn't cover it completely, but I think a little mulch might be a good idea.


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