Bee pasture and herb.
The chaste tree (Vitex negundo) is an impressive shrub that attracts attention in the garden with its showy flowers. The deciduous plant native to East Africa and Southeast Asia has been planted as an ornamental tree in Europe for centuries. In its original habitat, it lives mainly on the banks of rivers, in sparse forests and meadows.
In its native countries, it is used in folk medicine, the decoction of its leaves is used as a poultice for ulcers and internally against flatulence, headaches and toothaches, coughs. Its roots are used for eczema and other skin problems, liver complaints, splenomegaly, rheumatism, gout, and back pain, and its seeds are used for anthelmintics. In Egypt and ancient Greece, it was used as a symbol of purity to ward off evil.
If it is planted in a suitable place, it can also be grown there without special care. Plant in a sunny, semi-shaded place, in well-draining, humus soil. It tolerates drought, is winter-hardy, but should be covered during hard frosts. Make sure to plant it in a place protected from the wind, it is best to plant it next to a wall or a house wall.
It can also be planted in sandy or stony soil, a slightly alkaline medium without stagnant water is ideal. When planting, and later in the spring and early summer, it is worth enriching the soil with compost. However, too many nutrients stimulate the plant to develop lush green foliage, but it hardly produces flowers and the shoots remain tender and not winter-hardy. Prune the branches vigorously in the spring, cutting them back to about 20 cm, so you can grow a stronger, more compact plant.
You don’t need to water the plant regularly, but always keep an eye on it. It has shallow roots, so it may not get enough moisture in very dry summers.
It can also be grown in pots and containers. In such cases, due to the smaller medium, it should be watered regularly, fed every 4 days and overwintered indoors in a frost-free place.
The chaste tree is a 3-5 meter high bush or low tree. Its leaves are palmately compound and have an aromatic scent when rubbed. It produces its flowers in the second half of summer, from July to September, and is an excellent bee pasture. The bluish-purple flowers grow in upright, loose spikes at the end of the shoots. Its juicy, stone fruit with a diameter of 4 mm is black when ripe. The fruits can be harvested in October and used in the kitchen.
It can be propagated by cuttings and seeds. The cuttings are cut from half-wooded shoots in summer and rooted in potting soil. Next spring, the new plants can be planted outdoors.