In The Garden Now…..Vitex: A Premier Parking Lot Shrub

Friday, September 27, 2019

Chaste Tree
Photo by Victoria Gilleland
By Victoria Gilleland

If you’ve driven through the Lake Forest Park Town Center in the last few months you may have noticed a handsome flowering shrub with spiky blue flowers growing near the hardware store. 

 It looks a lot like a butterfly bush but this one is better behaved and typically doesn’t self-seed in the Northwest.

What I affectionately call ‘A Premier Parking Lot Shrub’ is one that blooms for a long while, is easy to grow in sunny dry conditions, tends to be healthy, and provides for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. 

Chaste Tree does all of this. Why not beautify our gardens in commercial spaces as well as home gardens with plants that have all these admirable traits?

Chaste Tree is a deciduous shrub or small tree. In warmer climates it may grow to be 25’ tall and wide and be treated as a multi stemmed tree. In the Northwest it is typically much smaller.

In parking lot gardens Chaste Trees are often hard pruned to 1-2 feet in winter to contain their exuberant growth. They grow back to a reasonable 4-6 feet in one growing season. Flower production is not impacted by heavy pruning since this plant blooms on new wood.

Grey green leaves are scented as are the small lavender-blue flower spikes. There are many varieties of this plant available with blossoms in shades of blue, lavender, white and pink. If you are after a smaller, lower-growing plant that you wouldn’t need to prune so regularly, or a different colored flower, other Vitex varieties may be available at local nurseries.

This might be the perfect easy to grow shrub for that hot, sunny spot in your garden…..You’d have long blooming, no fuss color for months and months and be providing for our pollinators!

(Botanical Name: Vitex agnus-castus)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years. 


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