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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - August 10, 2008

From: Carrboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Propagation of non-native vitex
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am interested in propagating a beautiful big vitex tree. Can I do it from seeds or what is the best way? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Vitex agnus-castus is a member of the Verbenaceae family, native to the woodlands and dry areas of Southern Europe and western Africa. It is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 10, and in north central North Carolina, it appears you are between Zones 7a and 7b, so you should have no problem growing this plant. It can be propagated by seed in the Spring and Fall or by cuttings which are easy to root in warm weather. We think you should also be aware that vitex is considered an invasive plant in several states. Please see this PlantWise page on Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants for vitex. A close relative, Vitex rotundifolia, Beach Vitex, is considered extremely invasive in North Carolina.

This USDA Forest Service website on Vitex agnus-castus will give you some more ideas on where and how it will grow. It can grow in part shade and full sun, and tolerates most soils as long as they are well-drained. In USDA Hardiness Zones 6b to 7, vitex can be killed to the ground by severe winters, but will come back from the roots, more often as a multi-stemmed shrub.

Seed: Sow in flats or even small paper cups in a good potting soil. The seed does not need pre-treatment and germination is usually quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sheltered area for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in Spring of the following year.

Propagation by cuttings: Excellent instructions for the home gardener in this Horticulture Information Leaflet from North Carolina State University on Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings. This site does not specifically list vitex, but we have learned from other sources that the same treatments may be used as are used on crape myrtles, which are listed.

 

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