Vitex – Identification and Care

vitex flower

Q: Can you identify the plant that has lavender blue flowers and is blooming right now beside the Interstate? My carpool friends and I were stuck in traffic there last week and wondered what it was.

A: You have discovered that being stuck in traffic isn’t always boring! My once-young son hated our trips downtown because I was compelled to quiz him on spelling words while we were driving slowly. I’ll bet the plant you are seeing is a vitex (Vitex agnus-castus), aka chastetree.

Chastetree, once known as monk’s pepper, gets its name from its medieval reputation for suppressing the carnal desires of celebates.

I doubt that use is effective but the large shrub/small tree is effective as an ornamental and pollinator magnet

Plant yours where it can get lots of room – It can grow fifteen feet high and the same amount wide. You can get spectacular blooms on a chaste tree if you maintain it as a large bush, not a small tree, and give it a severe pruning in winter. The springtime new growth produces a profusion of bloom spikes in summer.

Also called summer lilac, the vitex is very drought tolerant, is almost pest free and it blooms when other plants have retired for the summer. Bees and butterflies love the long lasting flowers. Enjoy your commute!

Vitex agnus-castus


vitex leaf

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