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  • Chaste Tree

    Hi all,
    I am in my house almost 5 years now and the previous two owners planted many lilacs, sweet shrubs and butterfly bushes. Most of these are now anywhere from 10-20 feet tall prior to my aggressive pruning in the spring (to 4 feet). The blooms are amazing.

    One of the butterfly bushes always bloomed later than the other and the woody parts of the tree were always just a little different (more substantial, small tree like, foliage higher). My definitive clue to it being something differnt were the odd seeds but it still left me clueless to its name.

    This spring, I was working at the base of the "tree" after pruning and when removing some of the years of mulch, I uncovered the orginal plant tag from the nursery. I finally have a definitive ID....a Chaste Tree

    With so many seeds in previous years, I was wondering if anyone can provide some info on the best way so save, store and germinate these.

    TIA
    Chris

  • #2
    Hey Chrisd4421; The seeds will germinate easily in moist soil in either the spring or fall. The best way however is to root cuttings.Liquid or gel hormones work best with soft and hardwood cuttings. Cuttings should be taken and rooted during warm weather.

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    • #3
      Chris, I am a big fan of Chaste Tree (aka Vitex). In Texas, they are a sort of Crape Myrtle alternative, similar growth habits and toughness. Some also consider them to be a lilac alternative in my area (another name for them is Texas Lilac), because lilacs don't do too well here. Vitex generally has "blue" (really purply-blue/periwinkle) flowers, although there are also some pinks, whites, and even a couple of "new" hybrids available with bicolor blooms (don't know the details of these new bicolor ones, though) Just heard/read about them a bit, but haven't bothered to explore it as I love the blue/purple ones.

      In the greater Austin area, they are a fairly common highway/roadside/mall planting like crapes are, and they are starting to bud out and put on their annual show. Once established, they will take both torrential rains and drought. They can be allowed to bush out, or can be limbed up and treated as a small tree. I've come to prefer Vitex over Crapes because the foliage is more attractive, they smell nice, and don't tend to get powdery mildew or aphids.

      I mostly plant hybrids, as the bloom spires are more vivid in color and larger/longer (Shoal Creek is a favorite), but even the OP ones are lovely. If you start from seed from a hybrid, more likely than not, you will end up with an off type. Every time I've started seeds from a hybrid, they revert.

      If you think you have a hybrid and want to ensure the babies are the same as the parent, probably best to clone/take cuttings. I've also started them from seed before with no problems. Fresh seed took about 10 days to germinate in evenly moist potting mix, if memory serves.

      Question -- How much dead wood are you having to prune out? A couple of folks I know in 6a-6b zones sometimes treat them as a dieback perennial and whack them down to the base each spring to regrow as a bush. Just curious.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Suze View Post
        Chris, I am a big fan of Chaste Tree (aka Vitex). In Texas, they are a sort of Crape Myrtle alternative, similar growth habits and toughness. Some also consider them to be a lilac alternative in my area (another name for them is Texas Lilac), because lilacs don't do too well here. Vitex generally has "blue" (really purply-blue/periwinkle) flowers, although there are also some pinks, whites, and even a couple of "new" hybrids available with bicolor blooms (don't know the details of these new bicolor ones, though) Just heard/read about them a bit, but haven't bothered to explore it as I love the blue/purple ones.
        The Chaste Tree is beautiful. I know why you are a big fan. It is planted near Lilacs, Crape Myrtles and Butterfly Bushes. It is purplish-lilac in color and blooms later than anything else.

        If you think you have a hybrid and want to ensure the babies are the same as the parent, probably best to clone/take cuttings. I've also started them from seed before with no problems. Fresh seed took about 10 days to germinate in evenly moist potting mix, if memory serves.
        I love it and it is the only one I have seen in my area although it is so close to the Butterfly Bush in looks, there could be more than I think. I am going to save many seeds this year and try to root some this summer.

        Question -- How much dead wood are you having to prune out? A couple of folks I know in 6a-6b zones sometimes treat them as a dieback perennial and whack them down to the base each spring to regrow as a bush. Just curious.
        I have heavily pruned them but only down to about 4-5 feet. By fall's end, it will be close to 20'. it keeps a crape myrtle tree look on its own so I dont shape it at all. Every spring I have less than 5% dead at the start of each season.

        I have no pictures but I will be sure to post some when it is out and blooming. It is a wonderful tree and I am excited.

        Question for you...do I have to prune it like I do or can I just thin out every season? Dont know much and have not researched care and maintenance as of yet.

        Thanks for your reponse!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by chrisd4421 View Post
          I have heavily pruned them but only down to about 4-5 feet. By fall's end, it will be close to 20'. it keeps a crape myrtle tree look on its own so I dont shape it at all. Every spring I have less than 5% dead at the start of each season.

          I have no pictures but I will be sure to post some when it is out and blooming. It is a wonderful tree and I am excited.

          Question for you...do I have to prune it like I do or can I just thin out every season? Dont know much and have not researched care and maintenance as of yet.
          Chris -- if you are taking it down to 4-5', and end up with 20' by fall, that tells me you have a very well-established/mature one, as they generally eventually have the potential to get about 25 ft or so in a warm zone (7-8 and above). Some can get larger (really old ones that have done well) but that is the std/norm/avg. Sounds like you have one that really managed to "lock in" and thrive during its early years, so it was able to develop a extensive/deep root system.

          Since you aren't getting a lot of dead wood, you may not have to prune it severely as you are currently doing. My understanding about vitex (and crapes) is that all the wood is not always dependably hardy in cooler zones, especially if you get a cold winter. I normally don't get around to pruning mine until mid-late spring -- mainly because I am busy with my tomato and other veg garden plantings. By then, I know where any dead wood is because they have already started to leaf out, and it is pretty easy to make a decision about what to take off. I usually don't get any dead wood here, so most of my pruning is to limb up and thin out. I prune them as I would any other tree, removing branches that are severely touching and to train them up.

          One thing I definitely consider when pruning is the long-term overall structure and appearance of the tree. I hate to see crapes or vitex that have been "crape murdered" (topped). One reason is because I also want to have them look nice in the winter landscape, when the leaves have dropped. Another reason is because when folks do it here, the trees just look horrible afterwards - at first just this ugly, butchered thing, then later when they leaf out, they end up looking like an unnaturally pruned lollipop.

          http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/publica...pthecrape.html

          http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/home/index.asp?page=1167

          Hope this gives you some food for thought.

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          • #6
            Suze and anyone else....I just took the seeds a few days ago and I have enough to fill a quart container....much, much more than I would ever be able to give away or use...

            If you want some, let me know....I can send them out!!

            Chris

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            • #7
              How are your Vitex doing now?

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