Smith County Master Gardener
Spikes of blue flowers among starry leaves bring this little tree, Vitex agnus-costus, to center stage in June and July. Surrounded by all sorts of butterflies and hummingbirds too, Vitex transforms the spot where it grows into a vibrant mass of beauty.
Vitex goes by several aliases such as: Chaste Tree, Pepper Tree and Summer Lilac.
The later name is most appropriate for the blooms are reminiscent of a beautiful lilac — one that will grow in Texas.
Keep the spent blooms clipped off so the tree will continue blooming.
Vitex, once called Pepper Tree was used as a substitute for black pepper and If you would like to see the oldest known Vitex in Texas, you will find it growing in the Davy Crockett National Forest near Weches.
They used it to, you guessed it, keep them chaste. I still like the name Summer Lilac, much more romantic!
If you are looking for a small tree that is a bit uncommon, easy to grow, and long-lived, consider this little tree. Besides blue, it comes in purple, pink, and white.
Look for one at your local garden center. Just give it plenty of sun, well-drained soil of any kind and watch it grow.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about things blooming in Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.