Vitex Tree: Good Substitute for Crape Myrtles

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.

Vitex Tree in Houston shopping center

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.

Flowering Vitex Tree

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.

Vitex Flower Purple Blue in Houston
 
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.

11 thoughts on “Vitex Tree: Good Substitute for Crape Myrtles

  1. I live in Zone 7. I would like to purchase a few dark blue vitex shrubs/trees via phone or online. O f course I would like to see a photo of the plants. The variety that has been recommended to me is Mississippi Blue. Are there other varieties of dark blue vitex?
    Thanks for your assistance!

    • my name is Marc and i work for big Tex Tree Nursery. I have the vitex in stock in 24 inch box size. Call the spring location and id love to help you out in picking the perfect tree for your yard or garden.

  2. Will vitex grow and bloom in indirect sunlight, or does it HAVE to have direct sun? I have crepe myrtles that grow in indirect sun, but never bloom. I got a vitex and would rather plant it in a spot that only gets bright indirect light, but if it will never bloom there, then maybe I need to rethink my plan.

    • It is listed as Sun to Shade. Mine (Vitex Montrose Purple) are in part sun and are blooming well. Try this helpful site about vitex trees.

      From Heidi Sheesley of Tree Search Farms:

      Vitex agnus-castus ‘Montrose Purple’- Montrose Purple Vitex – Vitex is a fast growing, colorful, tough little tree that produces 4”-6” panicles of blue flowers at least three times from mid spring through summer. ‘Montrose Purple’ is a new selection with slightly larger foliage & magnificent blooms that are 3 times larger & have a richer, dark blue color than the standard Vitex. A drought tolerant, sun loving small, single or multi-trunked tree averaging 18’ x 18’. Another outstanding ornamental tree that requires no irrigation once established. Butterflies!

      • I agree and have two of them in my yard that have grown from 1-1/2 ft to 6 ft in two years, will put in more when I’m ready to expand my flowering tree area!

  3. I planted two vitex plants about 1-1/2 ft. tall two years ago in Dallas area. They are now about 6 ft x 6 ft each. I love them and they do attract butterflies and of course bees, which I also like to feed with my flowering plants. My only regret is that they got planted too close together and I hate to try to move one of them now, they will end up dwarfing each other on the side closest. They are about 6 ft apart and I wish I had planted the 2nd one in a totally different spot because they are so pretty and decorative for our once barren front lawn!

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