Douglas Hunt
Douglas Hunt
  • Hometalker
  • New Smyrna Beach, FL

Five reasons you should plant a Vitex


If you garden in zone 6 or warmer and your garden doesn't include Vitex agnus-castus—commonly known as chaste tree, or Texas lilac, or just vitex—I'm here to make the case for adding one to your shopping list this season.
five reasons you should plant a vitex, flowers, gardening
Reason No. 1: Hello, look at those spectacular purple blooms (here on the cultivar "Shoal Creek"). They practically cover this large shrub/small tree. (I have seen vitex close to 20 feet high at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, but they are easy to keep smaller.) And, if you deadhead after blooming, you can probably get three flushes of bloom a season. For me, in Florida, that means blooms from May to almost November.
five reasons you should plant a vitex, flowers, gardening
Reason No. 2: The blooms aren't just pretty, they are magnets for all manner of winged pollinators. Bees and butterflies (like the Pieris rapae in this photo) flock to this plant.
five reasons you should plant a vitex, flowers, gardening
Reason No. 3: It can serve as a beautiful specimen plant, but also plays well with others in a mixed perennial-shrub border. I prune mine to a large multi-stemmed form, as shown here.
five reasons you should plant a vitex, flowers, gardening
Reason No. 4: It will cause your friends to wonder what you're up to, because the leaves bear more than a passing resemblance to cannabis. (If salt-tolerance is an issue for you, the foliage is moderately so. If we have a big coastal storm, it takes something of a beating and I try to give the foliage a good rinse afterward.)
five reasons you should plant a vitex, flowers, gardening
Reason No. 5: You really did want another look at those flowers, didn't you? Vitex produces them while being amazingly heat- and drought-tolerant. Those qualities, and its generally resistance to pests, caused Texas A&M to name it a "Texas Superstar." Here's one caveat: In zone 6, you may want to plant this in a protected spot, say against a wall, where it can get some reflective heat in the coldest parts of winter. It may die back to the ground during the winter in the northern parts of its range, but should come back from the roots and can easily grow 5 feet in a season.

Top Hometalk Projects

No Way! These Pops of Color Were Made With Dollar Store Items!
30 Ways To Use Old Jeans For Brilliant Craft Ideas
31 Creative Garden Features Perfect For Summer
30 Ways To Use Old Jeans For Brilliant Craft Ideas
15 Amazing Ways To Get Your Patio All Ready For Summer
11 Unexpected Ways to Use Spices in Your Home
23 DIY Wall Clocks That'll Transform Your Whole Room
15 Kitchen Updates Under $20
30 Creative Painting Techniques & Ideas You MUST See!
14 DIY Hacks to Stay Clean While Camping
15 Things To Do With Scrap Material
20 Easy Concrete Projects You Absolutely CAN Do!
18 Fun Ways To Add Glitter To Your Home Decor
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space
16 Ways to Showcase Your Herb Garden

Have a question about this project?

2 questions

Join the conversation

2 of 170 comments
  • 169756
    on Aug 9, 2015

    Douglas, any advice on Smokebush? Our two are very healthy and love the vibrant color, however they are very leggy. I can't get them to thicken and not shoot straight up with limbs no matter how drastic I prune them back. I'll never get the 'smoke' since I have to keep repeating the pruning and long stems just keep shooting straight up. They grow incredibly fast. Here is a pic I took a couple of weeks ago and they've probably gained another foot since then! Advice on what I'm doing wrong in trimming? Thanks!

  • Mssmatch
    on Aug 9, 2015

    Looks just like my pink butterfly bushes, must be related.

Your comment...