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Texas lilac Vitex agnus-castus

Phonetic Spelling
VY-teks AG-nus KAS-tus
Description

The Chaste tree is a shrub or tree native to Europe and Asia that does best in hot weather. It is hardy in zones 7 to 8. In cooler climates, it can be severely pruned to the ground and will usually regrow.  It can suffer winter dieback or will die to the ground in USDA Zones 5 and 6; however, the roots often survive and push up several feet of new growth the following year.  Pruning can be done in early spring as flowering occurs on new wood. Due to this trait, dieback will not affect flowering.  Prune faded flowers to promote continuous flowering. Flowering will be more spectacular if the plant is heavily pruned after blooming. 

This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is moderately salt tolerant. It has good drought tolerance once established. It freely reseeds and can become weedy. Bees and many other pollinators are attracted to its flowers and foliage.

In warmer climates, it can be trained to grow as a small, single-trunk tree or a large shrub.  Although typically grown as a 10–15-foot shrub, in tree form it can reach heights and widths of up to 20 feet.  This long-lived specimen's rapid growth rate can add up to 24 inches per year in height.

Some smaller cultivars like ‘Blue Diddley' and ‘Blue Puffball’ can be grown as 3-to-6-foot shrubs; other cultivars such as ‘Cooke’s Blue’, ‘Cooke’s Pink’, or ‘Cooke’s Purple’ can grow as tall as 25 to 30 feet with the same spread. There are also many cultivars of various sizes in between.

The Chaste tree is great for the home landscape provided it has plenty of room to grow. The unique foliage and flowers will add interest to the home garden. This plant has the potential to become invasive, especially in southern areas of the country.  Its dry fruit can be a litter issue.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Thrips can cause damage. It is the only known host for hyalesthus obsoletus and can be used as a biological control agent by planting it around vineyards to trap this cicada. Root rot can occur in too moist soils.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Flower Bonanza Garden Vegetable No-Till Garden Shade Border Garden Flower Bonanza Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Abbeville Blue'
    Blue flowers. 10-20'.
  • 'Alba'
    White blooms.
  • ‘Blue Diddley’
    Low growing to 72", blue flowers.
  • ‘Blue Puffball’
    Low growing to 4', blue flowers.
  • ‘Blushing Spires’
    Pink flowers.
  • ‘Delta Blues’
    More compact variety to 10'.
  • 'Latifolia'
    Blue/lavender blooms. Green/blue foliage. 15'
  • 'Montrose Purple'
    Tall, to 25'. Blue flowers.
  • 'Pink Sensation'
    Light pink flowers, to 15'
  • 'Rosea' (pink)
    To 10', pink flowers. Also called Pink Chaste Tree.
  • 'Salinas Pink'
    True pink flowers.
  • 'Shoal Creek' Vitex agnus-castus 'Shoal Creek'
    Larger spikes of violet-blue flowers
'Abbeville Blue', 'Alba', ‘Blue Diddley’, ‘Blue Puffball’, ‘Blushing Spires’, ‘Delta Blues’, 'Latifolia', 'Montrose Purple', 'Pink Sensation', 'Rosea' (pink), 'Salinas Pink', 'Shoal Creek'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#shrub#weedy#fragrant leaves#deciduous shrub#salt tolerant#winter interest#fast growing#pest resistant#deer resistant#children's garden#large spaces#playground plant#pollinator plant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#full sun#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Abbeville Blue'
    Blue flowers. 10-20'.
  • 'Alba'
    White blooms.
  • ‘Blue Diddley’
    Low growing to 72", blue flowers.
  • ‘Blue Puffball’
    Low growing to 4', blue flowers.
  • ‘Blushing Spires’
    Pink flowers.
  • ‘Delta Blues’
    More compact variety to 10'.
  • 'Latifolia'
    Blue/lavender blooms. Green/blue foliage. 15'
  • 'Montrose Purple'
    Tall, to 25'. Blue flowers.
  • 'Pink Sensation'
    Light pink flowers, to 15'
  • 'Rosea' (pink)
    To 10', pink flowers. Also called Pink Chaste Tree.
  • 'Salinas Pink'
    True pink flowers.
  • 'Shoal Creek' Vitex agnus-castus 'Shoal Creek'
    Larger spikes of violet-blue flowers
'Abbeville Blue', 'Alba', ‘Blue Diddley’, ‘Blue Puffball’, ‘Blushing Spires’, ‘Delta Blues’, 'Latifolia', 'Montrose Purple', 'Pink Sensation', 'Rosea' (pink), 'Salinas Pink', 'Shoal Creek'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#shrub#weedy#fragrant leaves#deciduous shrub#salt tolerant#winter interest#fast growing#pest resistant#deer resistant#children's garden#large spaces#playground plant#pollinator plant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#full sun#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Vitex
    Species:
    agnus-castus
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Essential oils have been found in the fruits and in the leaves. It has been used as an insect repellent.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mediterranean to Pakistan
    Wildlife Value:
    Resistant to deer. Attracts birds, butterflies and bees which use the flowers to produce honey.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Open
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a drupe with 4 cells, each containing 1 seed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant pink, purple, white flowers all summer. Individual flowers are 1 inch across with five petals appearing in loose panicles (to 12" long).
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Compound branches have 5-9 lance-shaped leaflets and are up to 4-8 inches long by 2-4 inches wide. The leaves are opposite in arrangement, and they have a menthol fragrance. The undersides of the leaves are silvery-green.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray and can be smooth or furrowed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Insect Pests
    Salt
    Problems:
    Weedy