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Variety is the spice of life

I’m in a rut and it looks like many of you are too. Just take an inventory of our landscapes — how many crape myrtles do we really need? Although crape myrtles are wonderful, hardy trees for the South — adding variety will increase the beauty and interest of any landscape.

An old reliable southern plant that I plan to add this year is Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus). Chaste Tree is a fine substitute for crape myrtle, bearing purple, pink or white blooms from June to September. This small tree can reach a height of 15 to 20 feet and equally as wide. It is spectacular in bloom. 

Look for these selections:

“Montrose Purple” — produces rich, violet flowers in large inflorescences, strong growing form, 8 to 10’ by 8 to 10’.

“Abbeville Blue” — produces deep blue flowers.

“Alba” — white flowers.

“Blushing Spires” — soft pink flowers.

Chaste Tree is tolerant of drought and is pest resistant. In fact, Chaste Tree has few natural enemies. An extract from this tree has been used as a pest repellent. Another great attribute is that deer won’t eat it!   

Although pests shun the Chaste Tree, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love it! Its long lasting, nectar-laden blooms provide food for our beneficials throughout the growing season.

Add a little pizzazz to your landscape! Check with your local nurseries for these Chaste Tree selections. The birds, bees and you are going to love them!

Rebecca Bates is an MSU Extension-Lincoln County agent, and can be reached at 601-835-3460 or by e-mail at rebecca.bates@msstate.edu.