LILAC CHASTETREE Monks Pepper Tree, Vitex agnus castus

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Vitex agnus-castus is widely cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions for its delicate-textured aromatic foliage and butterfly-attracting mid-summer spikes of lavender flowers opening in late summer in cooler climates. It grows to a height of 1–5 m (3–16 ft). It requires full sun though tolerating partial shade, along with well-drained soil. Under ideal conditions it is hardy to −23 °C (−9 °F) USDA Zone 6, and can be found as far north as the south shore of Long Island and Nantucket on the East Coast of North America and in the mild southwest of England. In colder zones, the plant tends to die back to the ground, but as it flowers on new wood, flowering is not affected on vigorous growth in the following season. This plant tolerates salt.

In cultivation in the UK, the form Vitex agnus-castus f. latifolia has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Type: Small tree or large shrub

Height: 1–5 m (3–16 ft)

Location: Sun or part shade

Hardiness zones: 6-11

Seeds per pack: 20

Germination: Soak in water for 24 hours. Plant in a pots with holes at the bottom for drainage. Sow seeds just under the surface, and keep continually moist. Place the container in a cold area (fridge or similar) 90 days, and then bring to warmth for germination, which will occur several weeks after the warming period.

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