Thursday, July 17, 2008

Landscape and Nursery - Plants for Delaware Landscapes: Chastetree

The following is a continuation of the series on plants adapted to Delaware landscapes.

Vitex negundo, Chastetree, is a small tree with palmately compound leaves that are medium green and slightly gray on the underside. The plant can grow from 3 to 15 feet depending on the microclimate. Listed by Dirr as a zone 6 plant, it thrives in zone 7 and 8. The tree has an open airy vase shape that will need to be pruned every few years to encourage new growth. Like many flowering trees, chastetree does best in full sun with slightly acid soils. Once established, chastetree can tolerate some drought and some salt conditions as well. Chastetree blooms beautifully in early summer when very few trees are in bloom and becomes covered with blue or lavender flower spikes that are fragrant. Despite all the flowers, chastetree is considered allergy free and, like many flowering plants, is a butterfly magnate. There are no insect pests, but a leaf spot disease can defoliate the tree and wet soils will cause a root rot.

Information and photo from Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, Wicomico/Worcester/Somerset Counties, University of Maryland in the July 11, 2008 edition of the TPM/IPM Weekly Report for Arborists, Landscape Managers & Nursery Managers from the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension.

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