The Chaste tree, Vitex agnus-castus, bears lavender blooms that attracts butterflies and bees. Find facts and information on chaste trees and learn how to grow Vitex agnus-castus in your landscape.
Chaste trees are deciduous trees or shrubs that are found in Zones 7-9. They grow 15-20’h x 10-15’ w. They have a rounded form with a medium texture. Chaste trees are often used as specimen plants, in shrub borders, or planted in masses.
Chaste trees can be grown as a large, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub or a small tree. The trunk is gray and knotty and somewhat ornamental. It has strongly aromatic, sage-scented grayish leaves with a palmate shape.
It has a showy, fragrant, upwardly pointing panicles of lavender blooms that attract butterflies in summer. It bears round, fleshy green fruits that appear after flowering. They turn brown and will persist through winter.
The trees seem to be impervious to excessive heat if given sufficient water. It will provide dramatic flowering during the time when many other plants are suffering drought stress or have gone into summer dormancy. In some regions this species has become naturalized and is considered weedy. In warm climates the Vitex chaste tree forms a large shrub or small tree; where winters are cold, it dies back to the ground. It prefers full sun and well-drained, loamy soil. It is salt tolerant and can be used in seaside plantings.
Care of Chaste Trees
The roots of Chaste trees are few and coarse. Try to avoid exposing them to sun and wind during transplanting. Water young plants as needed, as established plants are drought tolerant. Train young plants into a tree form is desired. Regulary remove suckers on small trees. It may winterkill in colder areas of the country.
Prune shrubs to the ground each spring to grow as a herbaceous perennial, with flowers blooming on new growth. In warmer climates remove the entire top and any dead wood in early spring for best flowering results. Removing spent flowers may help plants rebloom later in summer.
Propagation is done in early summer when softwood cuttings can be rooted easily. This plant has no serious pests or diseases to mention.
- ‘Serrata’ has serrated leaflets.
- ‘Alba’ and ‘silver spirea have white flowers.
- ‘Colonial Blue’ has good blue flower color.
- ‘Rosea’ has pink flowers.
- ‘Latifolia’ is more vigorous and hardier than the species.
- V. Negundo is hardier and has highly dissected leaves shaped like cut-leaf Japanese maple. It is smaller (10-15’ tall) shrubbier, and more open and vase shaped.