Chaste Trees Are Coming Into Bloom

This is a pink form of Lilac Chastetree placed adjacent to a front entry

This is a pink form of lilac chaste tree placed adjacent to a front entry.

Pink form of Lilac Chastetree in bloom

Pink form of lilac chaste tree in bloom

The purple spike flowers accent the verticalness of the commonly found Lilac Chastetree

The purple spike flowers accent the verticalness of the commonly found lilac chaste tree.

I consider chaste tree a small tree, but many designers treat it as a large shrub. One of the oldest plantings I know of in Birmingham is in the Hill Garden at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Their age and wear and tear over time have made them almost oriental looking small trees. The image above is the first large pink form of chaste tree (also call by its genus name Vitex) that is small tree-size I have seen. At first glance I did a double take on what I was looking at. But the wispy look and delicateness of the pale pink flowers is a very different look to me than the common lilac chaste tree. Granted, part of the shape not being more upright is that it is in hight filtered shade, but sometimes selections picked for flower color can vary a bit in their growth habit. Now there is no question that this small tree is very easy to grow and is in the elite group of small summer flowering trees. While there is a white selection too, I have never seen it growing. But if you want one of the beauties, you need full sun, well drained soil, and the ability to water it during dry periods until it is well established. They respond well to pruning and are generally available in smaller sizes, but they are fast growers. The foliage is fragrant, and they flower at a very young age. But to let you know, the leaves look similar to marijuana leaves, so don’t be surprised with questions when they are young plants.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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