These Vitex trees are in a shopping center on the West side of Houston off Eldridge Pkwy and Enclave Pkwy. I first noticed them blooming two years ago. First let me say that I really like the calming color of blue in the garden. I guess it complements my desire for Orange flowers. I love orange in the garden too. My orange hibiscus is a favorite of mine near my kitchen window.
The scientific name is Vitex agnus-castus, but commonly known as Chaste trees, Lilac Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, or Indian Spice. Originating in China and India, they became naturalized throughout the Southern US. The Vitex tree is a great substitute to the extremely overplanted crape myrtles in Houston and is hardy in zones 6-9. I only wish that my house had these instead of the crapes to line the driveway. (they were there when I bought the house in 1991).
Vitex is an good choice if you are looking for a small flowering tree or large shrub. It flowers best in full sun and prefers well drained soils.
Like most plants in the Vervain family, Vitex attracts butterflies. New improved varieties such as ‘Montrose Purple’, ‘LeCompte’, or the pink ‘Salinas Pink’ have spikes as long as 8 to 12 inches in length. In my garden this year I’ve seen a lot of monarch butterflies.
I am going to replace my Redbud tree this fall (now 18 years old and leaning) with a Vitex I bought this year. The variety of Redbud I have does not flower well here in Houston. It does provide a nice shaded spot to hang my orchids on. In the meantime, the Vitex is on my driveway in a five gallon pot, trying to get through this long, very hot summer.
Learn more about Vitex at Aggie Horticulture.
The Vitex tree is on the Houston Chronicles list of the 10 best trees to survive a hurricane. After Hurricane Ike last year, it may be worth a look for your landscape if you lost any trees last year.