Midsummer in the south is hot, humid, and oppressive. Many shrubs seem to shrivel in the intense heat, and seem beaten down. One plant in particular is an exception: Vitex. Not only does Vitex love the heat, but it offers beautiful, cool violet-blue flowers that can be refreshing to look at.
Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree or Monk’s Pepper, is a long blooming small tree or shrub. If you have the space, some varieties can be pruned into a multi-trunk specimen, similar to a Crape Myrtle or Japanese Maple.
Vitex is not only tolerant of heat and drought, but it’s resistant to pests, including deer.
Its long spikes of violet-blue flowers begin by midsummer and are quite attractive to pollinators ike bees and butterflies. The flowers are fragrant, and even the foliage has a spicy odor when bruised or crushed.
Vitex blooms on new growth each summer, so if your space doesn’t allow it, you can prune your plant heavily each spring. Or, if you prefer not to prune, look to get Vitex in a dwarf variety.
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