New Improved Shrub

By Charlie Nardozzi

The Texas Superstar Plant Program at Texas A & M University takes well-known plants and develops unique selections with new characteristics. In 2005 breeders improved upon a common landscape shrub in the South; the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).

Long grown in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 8 as a landscape shrub, the chaste tree grows 15 to 25 feet high and wide and produces spikes of white, pink, or lilac-colored flowers.

The new improvement from the Texas Superstars Program involves the flowers. New varieties have larger, more colorful, and more fragrant flowers than old varieties. The varieties 'Montrose Purple', 'Le Compte', and 'Shoal Creek' all will be sold as 'Texas Lilac Vitex'. The blossoms are attractive in the landscape, make for beautiful cut flowers, and are appealing to butterflies.

To stimulate new flowers and prevent Vitex from self-sowing rampantly, cut back the shrub dramatically after flowering. Since the shrub flowers on new growth, new blooms will appear again in 6 weeks.

For more information on the 'Texas Lilac Vitex', go to the: Texas Superstars Program Web site.

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