Vitex agnus-castus | Chaste Tree ‘Abbyville Blue’
Lilac Chaste Tree, also known as Chasteberry, Monk’s Pepper, and Texas lilac, is a fast-growing, large, multi-stem deciduous shrub or small tree with an upright, spreading habit. ‘Abbyville Blue’ Lilac Chaste Tree is a fine cultivar introduced by Louisiana Nursery in the early 90’s. It is a little more cold-hardy than other varieties. Plants will develop bold, fragrant, violet-blue 12-18″ flower spikes in mid to late summer that last until fall. The palmately compound leaves are opposite in arrangement. The upper surface is grayish-green, and the undersides are gray, and are also aromatic and resemble those of Cannabis sativa, only without serrate leaves.
In an ideal environment, Vitex can reach 10-15+ ft. In cooler zones 5-7, it’s usually more of a medium-sized shrub, generally reaching 4-6 ft. Cold winter temperatures can cause the stem tips to die back partway or even all the way to the ground, but as long as temps stay above -10F, it will regrow. It blooms on new growth anyways, so should reach a few feet in height by mid to late summer each year. Drought tolerance once established.
Where pruning is concerned, Chaste Trees can be treated like Buddleja (Summer Lilac), pruned in spring as lthe eaves start to grow (usually April), and then can be deadheaded and will put out more blooms again. Flowering will be more spectacular if the plant is heavily pruned after blooming.
Chaste Tree is great for the home landscape, planted as a street tree, windbreak, hedge, or as a back of the border plant, provided it has plenty of room to grow. The beautiful foliage and flowers will add interest to the home garden. However, in Southern states, Chaste Tree has the potential to become invasive, especially in southern areas of the country.
Attracts abundant bees, butterflies, and birds.
Chaste Tree seeds benefit greatly from a period of cold-moist stratification, however a few seeds may germinate even without it by placing straight into soil and given heat, humidity, and light.
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 10-15+ ft
Mature width: 4-6 ft
Hardiness zones: 6-10