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This important genus is made up of some 150 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen and decidouos cool-climate shrubs or small trees. Fully to moderately frost hardy, most species are remarkably trouble-free plants, growing in any well-drained soil in sun or light shade.
This is a useful evergreen shrub for winter interest in the open garden or containers. It's very compact, and has dense dark green foliage. The pink flower buds open to tiny, star-shaped white flowers, carried in flattened heads and these are followed by small dark blue-black fruits. It can also be grown as an informal hedge and is tolerant of a fair amount of shade. To propagate, take cuttings in summer. Needs full sun or part shade. Has blue fruit in fall. Is drought tolerant.
This tough shrub also tolerates some extreme conditions, including soils that are wet in winter, but dry in summer and it too is fast-growing. In wet soils with poor drainage it will help to pump water out to make the area less boggy for other plants to grow in. Very rapid, clean growth in almost any soil is one great advantage of the species which can be put to any garden use in sun or shade.
Chaste tree carries several 'sacred' names, which more or less directly refer to its reputation as an anaphrodisiac. In ancient Greece, the tree was called hagnos 'chaste', which apparently the early Christians confused with Latin agnus 'lamb', the Christian symbol of purity. Under the name agnus castus 'chaste lamb', the plants was often used among Christian monks as a help against the evils of the more fleshy desires. The chaste tree is a beautiful little deciduous tree or large shrub with a showy summertime flower display. When it's blooming, due to the similarity of the flowers, the chaste tree is sometimes mistaken for Butterfly Bush (Buddleja). The chaste tree is a sprawling plant that grows 10-20 ft and about as wide. Branched flower clusters are produced on new wood in late spring and early summer in a great flush that makes the tree look like a hazy purple cloud. Flowers are followed by a fleshy fruit that contains four seeds that are sometimes used as seasoning, similar to black pepper. Easy to grow in almost any soil that has good drainage! Even tolerant of salt drift. The chaste tree can take care of itself, but can be pushed to faster growth with light applications of fertilizer in spring and early summer and by mulching around the plant. If pruning is desired to control the size, it should be done in winter, since blooms form on new wood. It is hardly ever disturbed by pests or disease but is susceptible to mushroom root, rot and nematodes.