Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Profile

Written by Iris

Aug 13 2021

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Profile
Vitex Agnus-castus is a deciduous shrub that grows to 8 to 20 feet tall and 6 to 20 feet wide. The leaves are palmately compound, facing each other, and have five to seven dark green leaflets. Lanceolet leaflets are four to eight inches long and two to four inches wide. From summer to fall, this pure tree produces beautiful inflorescences ranging from bright blue to lavender.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Picture


Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Info

Botanical Name Vitex agnus-castus
Common Name Vitex,Chastetree
Plant Type Deciduous shrub
Mature Size 8-10 ft. tall; 5-8 ft. spread
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loose, well-drained soil
Soil pH Acidic to slightly alkaline (5.6 to 7.5)
Bloom Time Mid-summer

Ecological Habits of Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Vitex agnus-castus grows best when planted in loose, well-drained soil, but can tolerate clay or sandy soils. Plant in either full or reflected sun and be sure to water monthly. Chaste tree can tolerate heat well, but is semi-hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as 10 - 20oF. This species is resistant to Texas Root rot, a pathogenic fungus that causes plants to wilt and die.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Distribution Area

Vitex rotundifolia, commonly known as beach vitex, is a low, woody, perennial shrub with branches that can run for many meters. It is native to Asia, including China and Japan, and also to Oceania, including Australia and Papua New Guinea.

How to Grow and Care for Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

How to Grow Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

  • With Seeds
The vitex tree propagates easily by itself by reseeding. Spent blooms develop into berries that contain seeds, and new vitex trees will appear wherever the berries have fallen. If you are happy to have more vitex trees growing randomly around your garden, then be sure to leave the spent flowers on the tree to do their own thing.
  • With Cuttings
Propagation from stem cuttings is also an easy process with vitex trees. You will need to locate a softwood cutting from your plant of 4 to 6 inches long. Softwood cuttings are those that are neither brand new nor old. To find out if you have correctly identified softwood, simply bend the stem to see how it reacts to the pressure.
New stems will bend easily, whereas old stems will resist being bent. Softwood stems should snap in response to bending, and these are the stems you need for propagation. Remove the lower leaves from your stem, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and then set it into a soilless potting medium.
Roots should develop in around 4 to 6 weeks, at which point you can remove the plastic bag or container and transplant the cutting to a larger pot. Allow these new plants to develop over the coming months, planting the tree outside in spring.

How to Care for Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

  • Light
The vitex tree enjoys full sun conditions but can also grow well in partial shade.
  • Soil
All vitex plants do best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic content, although beach vitex can tolerate sandy soils typical of coastal areas. Beach vitex is also salt-tolerant and can handle wind quite well.
  • Water
During the summer, avoid watering your chaste tree until the soil has either dried out or is only slightly damp. Overwatering will lead to root rot, so the best approach is to give the plant a thorough soaking and then allow it to dry out rather than watering it daily
  • Temperature and Humidity
Vitex agnus-castus may be grown in Zones 6 to 9; it is technically hardy down to about -9 degrees Fahrenheit. But in zones 6, it often is grown more as a perennial plant rather than a shrub, since it may die back to the ground each winter, regrowing in spring.
  • Fertilizer
An annual application of a 2-to-3-inch layer of organic mulch such as wood chips or grass clippings can help a vitex plant grow well, helping keep moisture in the soil and block the growth of weeds. Mulch should be renewed each spring or whenever it begins to break down.
  • Pruning
First remove any dead, broken, or whiskery twigs.  Weak growth will not be able to support a flower or fill out the main framework, so it’s best to direct the plants energy into stronger branches.  If there are any old branches in an area where new growth has begun to fill out the shrub, remove them right at ground level, in favor of the younger growth.

Uses of Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)  has great uses for both landscaping and medicinal purposes. Also known as monk's pepper, the extracts from this tree are recognized as effective treatments for symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and premenstrual syndrome. In landscapes, Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) is an excellent summer color shrub or tell tree, and is often used for individual display or as a patio tree. When planting in xeriscape landscapes, chaste trees are best in mini-oasis zones. The plant can become messy once the leaves begin to fall, and the pleasantly scented inflorescence often attracts butterflies and bees.

Varieties of Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Several cultivars of vitex 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.
Smaller cultivars for potting include Blue Diddley (grows to 6 feet) and Blue Puffball (grows to 3 feet).

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Common Pests/Diseases

The Vitex tree is not susceptible to insects and or diseases.   There have been known cases of powdery mildew with this tree.  Usually caused by overwatering or too much rainfall in the area. Treat it with fungus control if you find a white powdery substance on the foliage. Click on the following Insects and diseases on plants for what it looks like on other plants.
Thysanoptera, also known as thrips will attack the Vitex.  These little pests suck on the stems.  Use a systemic insecticide to kill them.  Or spray them with Neem oil.  B.T.W. not all thrips are bad some are actually beneficial.  Read this post on gardening know-how.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Companion Plants
Vitex makes a great companion when planted with the Mississippi-Medallion-winning, pink-flowering Sioux and white-flowering Natchez crape myrtles.
This area is mostly drought tolerant plants - coreopsis, gaillardia, geum, perovskia, nepeta, salvias, and penstemons. It's a large bed anchored on one end by a maple so the Vitex will go toward the other end with a water feature (haven't quite decided on a pond or birdbath) in between.