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June 25, 2016
I was in Enid, Oklahoma over the weekend where the temperature was a dry 97 degrees.
I saw an ornamental tree (or maybe bush) called a Chaste Vitex. It was without question
one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen. A nursery in Enid told me one of
these plants would surely thrive in Arkansas but because I haven't seen any growing
in the Little Rock area, I was hesitant to invest in one. Any advice on whether or
not this plant would grow here and if so, any particular conditions?
They are blooming all over town. The Chaste tree or Vitex agnus-castus is a great
multi-trunked small tree or large shrub. It blooms with spikes of purple flowers
from June through early August which many people mistake for a large buddleia or butterfly
bush. The largest Vitex I have ever seen in Arkansas is on the state capitol grounds,
but they are growing in many locations in the state and should be readily available
at area nurseries. A cold winter can sometimes take its toll in the northern tier
in Arkansas, but mid to south should be fine. They are best in full sun and are loved
by bees and butterflies.
October 17, 2015
I have a fern-like plant growing wild in my garden. The stalks are rather thick and
sturdy, with feathery offshoots. It developed tiny purple flowers you had to be right
up to the plant to see.
You actually have two plants growing together. The wispy plant with ferny leaves
is a common weed called dog fennel - Eupatorium capillifolium. It can grow quite
tall and has a white flower. It can be aggressive, and is better pulled out and destroyed,
even though it does have a nice texture. I think it is growing in a very leggy chaste
tree or vitex. This plant can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub, with compound
leaves and a purple flower spike
This tree is much-loved by people (and bees) in our Heights neighborhood because of
its fragrant leaves and flowers. I tell everyone it’s a lavender tree because of the
colored blooms which occur each June; but I have never seen lavender grow on trees!
A neighbor tells me it was planted in the 70’s so it has withstood the test of time
but the last few years, in late July, the leaves get a brown appearance, shrivel and
about half drop off. Can you tell me what the tree is and how I should care for it?
The tree is Vitex tree, Vitex agnus-castus commonly called Chaste Tree. From the picture, it looks like your tree would benefit
from being thinned a bit at the base, removing some of the excess twigginess. All
of the excess canes could be causing some of the decline. The best time to prune is
in late February before new growth begins. If the leaves start their decline again
this year, bring some samples in to the local county extension office.
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