How to Care for a Vitex Tree in Arizona
Vitex trees, also called monk's pepper or chaste tree, grows 10 to 15 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide. In Arizona it blooms in late spring with pointing lavender flowers. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11; it grows where the temperature does not drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Vitex trees can grow throughout Arizona except in the coldest regions in the northeast.
Plant the vitex tree in full sun or part shade and loose, well-drained soil. This plant can survive hot weather and likes somewhat dry soil. In the cooler regions of northeastern Arizona plant the more hardy vitex negundo instead of vitex agnus.
Water the vitex deeply every seven to 10 days in hot, dry weather. In cooler times, once or twice a month is sufficient for the tree to thrive in Arizona. The plant will survive without supplemental water but grows faster and healthier with it.
Prune the vitex in late winter or early spring with pruning shears. You can prune this plant either to shrub form or tree form. For shrub form, cut the bush down to the ground annually. For tree form, prune the branches away from the bottom of the trunk. In both cases, cut out weak or broken branches, branches that rub and any suckers coming off the base of the trunk.
Fertilize the vitex tree each spring with a complete, all-purpose fertilizer marked 10-10-10. This will provide enough nutrients for the plant in Arizona soil. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions. Each brand of fertilizer will have different instructions.
Vitex Plant Care
Three types of Vitex plants are generally available to gardeners, each with slightly different climate and cultural requirements. All vitex plants do best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic content, although beach vitex can tolerate sandy soils typical of coastal areas. Beach vitex is also salt-tolerant and can handle wind quite well. Vitex plants prefer average moisture and grow best when watered regularly. Mulch should be renewed each spring or whenever it begins to break down.
If your vitex has yellow leaves, you are either watering it too much or too little. Make sure the soil dries between watering, but doesn't stay like that for too long.
- If your vitex has yellow leaves, you are either watering it too much or too little. Make sure the soil dries between watering, but doesn't stay like that for too long.
- Pruning shears
- University of Arizona, Pima County Extension: Vitex Agnus-castus
- University of Arizona, Master Gardener: Vitex Tree with Yellow Leaves
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Vitex Agnus-castus
- Henderson State University: Vitex Negundo
- Floridata: Vitex Agnus-Castus
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitex Agnus-Castus
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitex Negundo
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitex Rotundifolia