This small, decorative tree is a great choice for your garden or even for green spaces in urban areas. The Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is an evergreen species native to the Mediterranean region. It has the small stature typical to Mediterranean trees, which are used to arid climates, salty soils, full sun, and low amounts of water.
It thrives in the Southern part of the United States, particularly in California. Many gardeners choose the Chaste Tree over lilac because of the similar blue-purple flowers and its resistance to hot weather. If the temperature gets too hot, it will die. However, it will grow back next year.
Its name comes from the ancient belief that its seeds have anaphrodisiac properties and the fact that women who wanted to become ritually chaste used the plant in their bedding to lower their libido.
It's a Low Maintenance Tree
Chaste trees are small, only reaching 15-20 feet in height and 10-15 feet in width. They reach their mature size fast, in just a few years, but they do have a short life span of 20 years on average.
It’s best to provide chaste trees with mineral mulch, such as pebbles and rocks. It doesn’t need special soil. In fact, it’s not recommended to use rich soil that holds a lot of moisture. Sandy soils, clay, and soil that’s not so nutrient is perfect for this tough tree.
Once it’s established, the chaste tree doesn’t need watering at all, as it will draw the moisture it needs from the environment.
Pruning Is Essential
In order to keep your chaste tree looking great all the time, pruning is required. Prune it regularly to encourage branching and remove faded flower spikes to keep the plant flowering. This little tree will be a beautiful addition to your garden, and it will attract bees, birds, and other small wildlife.
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