How fast do vitex trees grow
How to Grow and Care for Chaste Tree (Vitex)
Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a deciduous shrub that bears clusters of purple flowers in the summer. Also known simply as vitex, the leaves of this plant are reminiscent of the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa), with five leaflets in a palm-shaped arrangement. The leaves have a fragrance similar to that of the herb sage. The purple flower clusters (panicles) that bloom in midsummer look like those of the butterfly bush (Buddleja spp.) The black fruit contains four seeds that look like peppercorns and are sometimes used to flavor food.
Like most shrubs, chaste tree is best planted in the spring to give it plenty of time to establish roots before winter dormancy. It is a fast-growing shrub that can shoot up as much as 7 feet in a single season, but most gardeners opt to keep this potentially invasive plant to 10 feet or less in height.
|Common Name||Chaste tree (chastetree), vitex|
|Botanical Name||Vitex agnus-castus|
|Mature Size||3-20 ft. tall; 3-15 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Loose, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Flower Color||Purple, blue, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||6–9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Mediterranean, Asia|
The Spruce / K. Dave
Chaste Tree Care
This is an easy-to-grow shrub that poses few challenges to a home gardener. If you avoid soil that is too wet or dense, success is nearly guaranteed. The biggest downside to chaste tree is that it may grow too aggressively, requiring frequent pruning to keep it in check.
This is one of the only species within the Vitex genus that is native to temperate regions; nearly all others are tropical trees and shrubs. In colder climates (zones 5 and 6), this plant sometimes dies back in winter and is grown as a perennial, in much the same way that the butterfly bush is grown in climates with freezing winters.
Vitex agnus-castus is considered to have invasive tendencies in some southern states such as Texas, where it has been used extensively for landscaping, gradually naturalizing into surrounding areas.
Chaste tree will grow well in full sun to part shade, though the best flowering occurs in full sun.
Choose a location where the water drains away instead of gathering. This shrub can handle acidic to slightly alkaline soils but it does not like very rich soil, since this can hold too much moisture around the roots. A native to Mediterranean regions, this plant prefers relatively dry soil. Sandy or rocky soils are no problem.
In most regions, you will not need to water a vitex at all once it is established. In fact, you should avoid using organic mulches, since they hold too much water.
Temperature and Humidity
Vitex agnus-castus may be grown in Zones 6 to 9; it is technically hardy down to about minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit. But in zones 6, it often is grown more as a perennial plant rather than a shrub, where it often dies back to the ground each winter, regrowing in spring. It does equally well in the high humidity of the southeastern United States as in the arid climate of the Southwest.
A chaste tree doesn't require much, if any, feeding. At most, a single application of a general-purpose balanced fertilizer every year or two will suffice. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.
Types of Chaste Tree
Several cultivars of chaste tree are widely sold:
- ‘Abbeville Blue’ grows 6 feet tall with a similar spread. It has deep blue flowers on 12- to 18-inch spikes.
- 'Alba' has white flowers. It is a large plant, growing to 15 feet with a 20-foot spread.
- 'Shoal Creek' is a 15-foot-tall plant with purple-blue flowers and leaves that have good resistance to fungal spots.
- 'Blue Puffball' is a great small shrub, growing only 3 feet tall with delicate blue flowers.
- 'Rosa Ann' is a 15-foot plant with heavily scented pink flowers.
- 'Rosea' is another pink-flowered cultivar, growing to 15 feet.
Smaller cultivars for potting include 'Blue Diddley' (grows to 6 feet) and 'Pink Pinnacle' (grows to 4-6 feet).
Left unpruned, chaste tree can become a sprawling, vase-shaped shrub that sometimes grows to 20 feet or more with a spread equally as wide. It is sometimes trained as a single-trunk small tree by pruning away competing shoots to encourage a central leader. Early pruning during winter will help keep the shrub in an attractive shape and control its size. Chaste tree tolerates heavy pruning quite well.
You can encourage continued production by deadheading spent flowers—a task that can be a little irksome with larger shrubs. Aggressive deadheading often produces a second flush of flowers about six weeks after the first.
In colder climates, this plant is often pruned down to the ground just before winter. Because it flowers on new wood, your chaste tree will return to a 3- to 5-foot flowering shrub each year, even with this fierce pruning routine.
Propagating Chaste Tree
The easiest way to propagate a chaste tree is by rooting some branch cuttings. As you might expect with such an easy-to-grow plant, chaste tree roots quite easily:
- In early summer, clip off a 12- to 18-inch branch tip using sharp pruners, then cut off the flowering end portion. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
- Put the cutting into a vase of water, and set it in a location that receives morning sun but afternoon shade. (You can also root the cuttings by planting them in a container with moist potting soil.) Over two months or so, the existing leaves will fall off the cuttings, but the other growth nodes will begin to bud and send out green growth.
- When the bottom of the cutting also begins to develop hairlike roots, the cutting can be transplanted into a pot or to a garden location.
Growing Chaste Tree From Seed
The seeds found within the fruits will readily sprout up wherever they fall in the garden, and these volunteers can easily be transplanted into new locations. Or you can collect ripened fruits, extract the seeds, and plant them where desired.
Potting and Repotting Chaste Tree
Growing a smaller cultivar of chaste tree in a pot is easy. Smaller cultivars grow only 3 to 6 feet. You can keep the tree in the same pot for a few years before any repotting is necessary. Follow these simple steps:
- Measure the root ball of the tree, then choose a container that is at least 8 inches larger in diameter than the root ball. The planter should have several drainage holes.
- Line the planter with landscape fabric to prevent dirt from coming out of the holes.
- Blend a good quality, well-draining potting mix with about 10 percent perlite, then pot up the plant.
In the landscape, chaste tree usually requires no winter protection if grown in its recognized hardiness range. In zone 6 (and sometimes even zone 5), some gardeners grow chaste tree as a perennial plant, cutting it back to ground level each winter and allowing it to sprout back each spring. It generally will put on 3 or 4 feet of growth and reach flowering maturity each season.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Usually, the only problems you see on Vitex agnus-castus are root rots, nematodes, and leaf spots, though these are not common. Problems usually occur when the soil is not dry enough. Aphids, whiteflies, and scales may also attack, but they are usually easily controlled with horticultural soaps and oils.
This plant needs well-draining soil, and if grown in soggy conditions, it may experience fatal root rot.
How to Get Chaste Tree to Bloom
Chaste tree normally has a long bloom season that can begin in early summer and continue into September. Within this period, there are peak bloom periods that repeat themselves if the spent flowers are deadheaded. If your chaste tree fails to bloom as robustly as you expect, it's likely because the plant is not getting enough sunlight. Another hindrance is excessive fertilizer. In most soils, this plant will require no additional feeding; fertilizer sometimes reduces flowering by stimulating green growth at the expense of blossoms.
Common Problems With Chaste Tree
This is a remarkably easy plant to grow, but some homeowners become annoyed with its messiness. The summer fruits can stain pavement or lawn furniture, and the prolific self-seeding requires constant plucking of volunteer plants to keep them from spreading. In fact, some gardeners eventually remove the plant altogether due to this invasive behavior.
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Lilac Chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus L.). Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States.
Chastetree. Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Land, Leslie. Charms of the Chaste Tree. New York Times.
How to Grow Vitex Chaste Flowering Shrubs and TreesVitex agnus-castus
Vitex is one of the most liberally reseeding plants I have ever grown.
In an interesting twist, it got a couple of its nicknames – chaste plant and monk’s pepper – from old beliefs that utilizing potions made from the plant’s berries helped maidens remain maidenly, and helped monks adhere to their vows of chastity.
Hardy in Zones 6 to 9, V. agnus-castus is sometimes referred to as “lilac of the South” because its beautiful, five- to 12-inch purple, lavender, off-white, or light pink flower spikes resemble those of lilac. Other nicknames include sage tree, and Indian spice vitex.
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Yet another nickname, hemp tree, stems from the appearance of plant’s leaves, which resemble those of the cannabis plant. Fortunately, the DEA has never beat down my door.
This butterfly-attractor can be pruned into shrub form, or allowed to reach tree heights – 15 to 20 feet – with a spread as wide as 10 to 15 feet. As a tree, expect it to be multi-trunked and vase-shaped, similar to crape myrtle.Photo by Gretchen Heber.
Native to China and India, V. agnus-castus has been planted in the United States for many years, and this fast-growing and deer-resistant plant has even naturalized in the southern United States.
Here’s what’s to come in this article:
Vitex Growing Guide
- A Plethora of Purposes
- Happy to Reproduce (And Where to Buy)
- In the Dark of Night
- A Hard Prune, and That’s About It
- Maybe, Maybe Not
- Big or Small, It’s a Keeper
Let’s take a look at the history and growing habits of this attractive plant, so you can grow your own.
A Plethora of Purposes
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans ascribed many healing powers to the seeds of vitex, mostly gastrointestinal.
And as I mentioned above, vitex has long been associated with sexual passion, or rather, a lack of it. Ancients put the leaves in the beds of maidens whose maidenhood they wished to preserve.
Today, some women take vitex-containing supplements to ease symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Other people take it to curb acne.
Happy to Reproduce (And Where to Buy)
Vitex loves hot and dry growing conditions. It wants full sun and well-draining soil – either acidic or alkaline.
We planted ours in native soil mixed with leftover builder dirt, with nothing special added in. The area where we planted it – that strip between the sidewalk and street common in suburban neighborhoods – was formerly home to St. Augustine grass.Photo by Gretchen Heber.
At the top of this article, I mentioned that vitex reseeds generously. In actuality, I would go so far as to say it’s invasive.
Ours have multiplied all over the stinkin’ place.
If you don’t cut the spent blooms off, the plant will form attractive berries, which contain seeds that are more than happy to make more vitex plants wherever they fall.
With that in mind, if you’re thinking you want to add vitex to your landscape, you can buy nursery starts in containers of varying sizes.
Purple flowering plants are available in #3 or #5 containers from Nature Hills Nursery.
This traditional chaste tree specimen has a mature height and spread of 15 to 25 feet. This variety can be grown in Zones 5 to 9.
Looking for something a little smaller? The ’Blue Puffball’ cultivar is perfect for growing as a shrub. Live plants are available from Nature Hills Nursery.
V. agnus-castus ‘PIIVAC-Il’
It will reach a maximum height and spread of three to four feet, and is available in #1 or #3 containers from Nature Hills Nursery. It can be grown in Zones 6 to 9.
The ’Pink Pinnacle’ cultivar is also available exclusively from Nature Hills.
V. agnus-castus ‘V07-SC-OP-4’
These are available in #3 containers, and will reach a mature height and spread of three to four feet. This pink variety will grow well in Zones 6 to 9.
’Shoal Creek’ is another outstanding cultivar with violet-blue flower spikes, and it’s available from Nature Hills.
‘Shoal Creek’ Chaste Tree
It will reach a max height and spread of 10 to 12 feet, and plants are available in #3 containers. It grows best in Zones 6 to 9.
In the Dark of Night
You can also propagate vitex from cuttings.
To do this, nab a four- to six-inch softwood cutting from your neighbor’s plant in late spring or early summer. It’s important that you choose a piece of stem that’s neither brand new, nor fully mature.
You can determine this by bending a stem. It if breaks with a snap, bingo! Softwood. If it bends but does not break, that section is too immature. If the stem doesn’t bend at all, it is hardwood and not suitable for propagation.Photo by Gretchen Heber.
Prepare a destination container by filling it with a soilless mix containing a good bit of perlite, moistening the mix, and dipping a pencil into the mix to create a hole for your cutting.
Make sure the end of your propagation piece is cleanly cut, remove the lower leaves, and then dip it in rooting hormone – liquid or powder.
Place the cutting in the prepared container and gently press the potting mix up against the stem. Place a plastic dome, if you have one, or a clear plastic bag over the container and place it in bright, indirect light to create a miniature greenhouse.Photo by Gretchen Heber.
Check the cutting daily, adding a bit of water if the potting mix feels dry. After four to five weeks, check for roots by either seeing if any are peeking out of the holes in the bottom of the container, or gently lifting the plant out of the container.
When you see roots, you can remove the plastic, and transfer to a larger container filled with 80 percent soil and 20 percent perlite.
Leave the starts in their pots for several months, and then transplant to the garden the following spring.
A Hard Prune, And That’s About It
Experts say this deciduous plant should be cut to the ground every winter to keep it a manageable size. That doesn’t happen at my house. We have a hard enough time just keeping it off the sidewalk, so it doesn’t annoy passersby.
Prune as you like for shape – into a full shrub, or more tree-like. Ours sends up these crazy, skinny, long, top-heavy canes from the base; we whack those off because they look stupid, and they fall over into the sidewalk or into the street where my son parks his car. Our car.Photo by Gretchen Heber.
The literature will tell you to water vitex infrequently but deeply from April to October. I guess if you count the five or so rainfalls we might get during that time in Austin, then that’s what ours gets.
We give it no supplemental water and no fertilizer. And yet, it’s unstoppable.
If your vitex looks like it needs a little pick-me-up, give it a dose of 10-10-10 (NPK) fertilizer in early spring and in early summer.
Maybe, Maybe Not
Although our V. agnus-castus plants have never been bothered by pests or diseases, other gardeners have had to watch out for a few problems.
If you see aphids, trying blasting them away with water, or try an insecticidal soap such as this one from Bonide, available at Arbico Organics.
Bonide Insecticidal Soap
It is available in 12- or 32-ounce ready-to-spray bottles.
Scale can also be water-blasted off, or you can use neem oil to smother them. Consider this neem oil also from Bonide, available from Arbico Organics.
Bonide Neem Oil
This potion is also effective against whiteflies, which some gardeners have reported seeing on vitex.
Big or Small, It’s a Keeper
If you have a large space that needs filling quickly, or if you’re diligent with the pruners, vitex might be a good choice for you.
This fast-grower can be kept trimmed to bush size or allowed to grow into a multi-trunked, vase-shaped tree. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with attractive, lilac-like boom spikes all summer long.
Have you ever grown V. agnus-castus? Which of its many nicknames does it go by in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments section below. If you’d like to try your hand at another shrub-slash-tree, consider Chinese fringe flower.
Photos by Gretchen Heber © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Arbico Organics and Nature Hills Nursery. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.
Sacred Vitex - tree of chastity. Monastic Pepper. Description, cultivation, application. Photo — Botanichka
Sacred Vitex (Viteks vulgaris, or common Prutnyak) is often called "Monastic Pepper" (Vitex agnus-castus) is a plant species from the genus Vitex in the Lamiaceae family. In colloquial speech, it is called the "Tree of Chastity", "Abraham's Tree", "Straw from the Bed of the Mother of God" or "Tanis", because it was believed that it had the property of weakening the sexual instinct. In this sense, even in scientific circles, the game with the name continues: the plant is called Lamb (in the sense of the holy lamb - agnus - lat. or ἁγνός - ancient Greek - lamb) and castus (lat.) chastity.Sacred Vitex, or Abraham's Tree, or Monastic Pepper. © Kristine Paulus
This plant originally spread from the Mediterranean basin through South Asia to the Crimea.
Range - North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), all of Southern Europe (from Spain to the southern coast of Crimea), in the subtropics of Asia: the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus south of the Sukko River, Transcaucasia, Western Asia (Turkey, Cyprus, Israel), Middle Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), Iran, Afghanistan, India, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka.
Undemanding to soils, grows on stony, sandy, loamy soils, salt-tolerant. It grows along the banks of rivers and ditches, along the beams, on the coast, forms small thickets. Cultivated in gardens as an ornamental plant since 1570.
Pollinated by insects, partial self-pollination possible. Propagated by seeds and vegetative green and woody cuttings, gives abundant shoots from the stump. Lives up to 55-62 years.
Forms a range of shapes. Listed in the Red Book of Russia - status 3 (Rare species).
It is a shrub up to about 4 meters tall with light brown branches. The leaves stand on the branches crosswise with respect to each other and have the shape of an open palm with five or seven endings. The flowers are white, blue, pink and purple, small and consist of flower "umbrellas" closely spaced one with the other. Visually, the plant is very similar to hemp, so they can be easily confused.
The fruits are four-seeded false berries. Blooms from July to August. The ovary is born depending on the geographical location - on average from April to June. Especially prefers damp places and banks of rivers and lakes.Sacred Vitex, or Abraham's Tree, or Monastic Pepper. © Kristine Paulus
Legend has it that the Greek goddess Hera was born on the island of Samos under the Abraham Tree. Once a year, the goddess Hera reunites with her husband, the god Zeus, on the island of Samos, under the Abraham tree. After an act of divine love, every time the goddess Hera bathes in the divine river Imbrasos, located in the north of Samos, her virginity is restored. When Tonaya is celebrated, branches of the Avaam tree are wrapped around the cult image of the goddess to remind of the unusual event. In ancient Greece, "monastic pepper" served as a symbol of chaste marriage.
Dioscurides describes the "tree of chastity" as a means of suppressing sexual desire.
Sacred vitex, or Abraham's tree, or monk's pepper. © Megan Hansen
“The lamb, the chaste lamb is a shrub known to the Romans as a wild pepper. A bush with strong trunks that grows on the banks of rivers and on rocky ledges of sea bays.
It is called the Lamb (meaning the sacrificial lamb) because women hide in its bushes to protect their virginity and chastity. And also because when someone is drunk, a decoction of wild-growing Monk Pepper helps to overcome uncontrollable sexual desire.
Fleshy, black-red fruits are used in cooking, as spices and in medicine. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal and sedative effects.
In the monastery gardens, along with other plants, wild pepper grew, which served the monks in two ways: they could make their food a little spicier with the help of wild pepper, and at the same time, this remedy relieved the tension associated with celibacy, sexual abstinence. In the Middle Ages, this plant served as a symbol of monastic temperate life.
Franz von Sales (1567-1622) mentions in his book 'Philothea' in chapter 13 (advice for chastity) in describing the use of Monk's Pepper:
In his work on herbs, Matthiolus writes (1626):
Sacred vitex, or Abraham's tree, or monk's pepper. © MdAgDept
“Grass takes away all pleasure and passion, and this is done not only by seeds, but also by leaves and flowers. This happens not only if you eat or drink this plant, but also when all this is scattered on the bed.
Monk's Pepper is a medicinal herb that is used to treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal complications, and also normalizes hormonal levels during irregular periods. It is also used in the treatment of infertility. Means - a standardized extract, which is used in modern medicine, is created industrially.
With an extended follicular cycle, this remedy is not indicated, because it slows down the formation of follicles. Young girls, pregnant women and nursing mothers are not recommended to take this remedy.
The fruits are harvested at full maturity (September-October), shoots with leaves - during the budding or flowering period (June), flowers - during flowering, bark - in spring or autumn.
Raw materials are dried in air, fruits are dried in dryers at a temperature not exceeding 40 °C.
Aromatic fruits, spicy seeds and leaves and fruits are added to meat dishes, soups, boiled and semi-smoked sausages, canned fish. It pairs well with many other herbs.
Grey-yellow wood, fragrant. Flexible and resilient branches are used to make baskets and garden furniture. The name 'Vitex' itself comes from the Latin 'viere' - to knit, in connection with the use of branches for weaving.
Sacred Vitex - Aososadka and Care
- 1 How to grow Vitex Sacred
- 2 Light
- 3 Soil
- 5 Temperature and humidity
- 7 Vitex Svic Streepproof 8 Propagation of Vitex sacred
- 9 Common pests/diseases
Vitex agnus-castus is a deciduous shrub that bears clusters of purple flowers in summer. If not pruned, it can grow into a sprawling vase-shaped shrub that grows up to 50 centimeters tall with an equally wide spread. Sometimes it is grown as a single-stemmed small tree.
Vitex leaves closely resemble the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa) with five palm-shaped leaves. The leaves have an aroma similar to that of the sage herb. Clusters of purple flowers (called panicles) look like butterfly bushes. Varieties with white flowers are also available. The black fruit contains four seeds that look like peppercorns and are sometimes used to flavor food.
Historically, vitex fruit has been used in antiquity to treat reproductive problems. The other name "chaste tree" came from the fact that the consumption of flowers was believed to suppress libido.
This is one of the few species of the Vitex genus that grows in temperate regions, almost all the rest are tropical trees and shrubs. In colder climates, this plant sometimes dies off in winter and is grown as a perennial, in much the same way that the butterfly bush is grown in climates with frosty winters.
Like most shrubs, vitex is best planted in the spring to give it enough time to establish before winter dormancy. It is a fast growing shrub that can grow two meters in one season. Most gardeners keep this plant up to one and a half meters or less in height.
How to grow Vitex Sacred
Sacred Vitex is an easy-to-grow shrub that poses little problem for the home gardener. If you avoid too wet or dense soil, success is almost guaranteed. Sacred Vitex's biggest downside is that it can grow too aggressively, requiring frequent pruning to keep it under control. In fact, it may move out of the garden and become aggressive, or settle down in the wild.
Sacred Vitex grows well in full sun or partial shade, but blooms best in full sun.
Select a location where water drains rather than collects. This shrub can handle acid to slightly alkaline soils, but it does not like very rich soil as it can hold too much moisture around the roots. This plant is native to the Mediterranean and prefers relatively dry soil. Sandy or rocky soils are not a problem.
In most areas, you won't need to water Vitex Sacred at all after it's planted. In fact, you should avoid using organic mulches as they hold too much water.
Temperature and humidity
Sacred Vitex can be grown in temperate zones and is technically resistant to temperatures down to minus 22 degrees. But in temperate zones it is often grown as a perennial rather than as a shrub, as it can die back on the ground every winter, growing back in the spring. It performs equally well in both high humidity and dry climates.
Sacred Vitex does not require special feeding. At best, a single application of a balanced general purpose fertilizer once a year or two will suffice.
Vitex sacred pruning
You can encourage continued growth by removing dead flowers, a task that can be a bit tedious for large bushes. Pruning annually in winter will help keep the shrub in an attractive shape and control its size. Vitex sacred tolerates heavy pruning well. You can turn Vitex sacred into a small tree with one trunk by trimming the trailing shoots to support the central trunk.
In colder climates, this plant is often pruned just before winter. Because it blooms on new wood, your Vitex Sacred will return to a 90 to 150 centimeter flowering bush every year, even with this tough pruning.
Propagation of Vitex sacred
The easiest way to propagate Vitex sacred is to root a few shoots. As you would expect from such an easy-to-grow plant, vitex is fairly easy to root.
Cut off the tip of the branch from 30 to 50 centimeters, then cut off part of the flowering end. Also remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Place the cutting in a vase of water and place it in a place where there will be morning sun and shade in the afternoon. (You can also root cuttings by planting them in a container of damp potting soil.