Chaste Tree: Planting, How To Grow Chaste (Monk’s Pepper) ID Charts

Woman examines a chaste tree (vitex agnus castus) to learn about growing small vitex tree, how to identify chaste tree leaves, flower, seeds (monk’s pepper) growing, planting, and care tips.

If you live in a region hospitable to the growth of chaste trees, it can make a lovely addition to your garden.

You can grow it as either a shrub or a smaller tree, and its ornamental value comes from its thick, long spikes of lavender tree, white, blue, pink, or purple flowers.

If you are interested in filling your garden with plants favored by pollinators, this is a great choice since Chaste tree flowers attract bees and butterflies in droves. Last but not least, the berries and leaves of the chaste tree are believed to have a number of health benefits, particularly for women, and you may be interested in making your own medicine.

This guide outlines how to recognize and grow Chaste tree for your yard or other landscaped area, as well as how to care for them so they thrive.

Growing a Chaste Tree From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

Growing a chaste tree from a seed, cutting, or seedling involves careful attention to soil conditions, regular watering a tree, and proper sunlight to ensure healthy development and successful cultivation.

Planting a Seedling From a Nursery

Step 1: The planting hole should be at least three times as wide and at least as deep as the chaste tree root ball.

Step 2: Depending on the nature of the native soil, you may need to amend it. If you have very compacted soils like clay, mixing some bagged top soil or a planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from digging the hole is recommended.

While the chaste tree doesn’t need a lot of moisture, it does need some, so if you have very quick-draining sandy soil, mixing in some compost, peat moss or topsoil may help to retain some moisture. If your soil is well-drained but appropriately moist, you don’t need to do anything to it.

Step 3: Before removing the lilac chaste tree from its container, water the root ball deeply. Remove the plant gently from the container.

If the ball seems stuck, either cut away the container or place the chaste tree on its side, and tap on it until the root ball loosens. Once you have taken it out, use a claw tool or your fingers to loosen up some of the feeder roots around the surface of the ball.

Spraying away some of the soil surrounding the side and bottom of the root ball may help loosen the roots.

Graphics with texts and images that shows how to identify chaste tree.

Step 4: When placing the tree in the planting hole, the top edge of the root bool should be slightly above or at ground level. It is best to plant your tree in the spring so the roots have time to establish themselves before winter.

Chaste Seeds

If you would like to grow vitex agnus castus from a seed, you should start indoors in the early spring about a month before the last frost date. Press the seeds into the potting soil in flats or planters.

They should be in a warm, sheltered area with plenty of direct sunlight to encourage germination. The seeds should be consistently moist, but remember chaste trees do not like soggy, waterlogged soil.

You should see young seedlings sprout within a couple of weeks and at this point, once they are a few inches tall, you can plant them outside.


Growing a chaste tree from a cutting is pretty easy, which is not surprising considering how easily these trees grow in general, and this process is done in the early summer. Take sharp pruners to cut off a 12 to 18-inch branch tip, cut off the flowering end, and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cut portion.

Place the cutting in a vase of water, or root them in a container of moist potting soil. The cutting should be placed in an area with lots of morning sun but afternoon shade.

Over the course of a couple of months or so, any existing leaves will die off and new growth nodes will begin budding and creating green growth. Once you see hairlike roots on the bottom of the cutting, it can be moved to a garden or pot.

Chaste Tree Growth Rate

When it comes to how long it takes to grow a chaste tree, know they sprout up pretty quickly. In a single growing season, it can get up to 7 feet tall! Typically, they can grow 2 feet a year.

Chase trees can reach heights of up to 20 feet, but because they are considered invasive many gardeners will keep them to about 10 feet or less to prevent them from overpowering other plants in the space.

Chaste Tree Growing Zone

The optimal growing zones for chaste trees are 7 and above, but you may be able to grow it in the cooler 5 and 6 planting zones. The plant will likely die off, but the roots will survive and the plant can experience several feet of new growth the following year.

Best Growing Conditions for Chaste Tree

Chaste trees can survive in a range of climates but generally need to be in places that are relatively warm to thrive best. Its native habitats are all warm places such as Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia.


So how much sunlight does a chaste tree need each day? Considering its native habitats are pretty sun-drenched locations, it is no surprise it will thrive best with lots of light.

Ideally, to grow a tree, your chaste tree will get about 6 hours of sun each day to maximize flower production and overall attractiveness. But it can survive just fine in partial shade, though it won’t produce as many flowers or grow as lush.


Avoid overly rich soils for chaste trees. These plants are native to areas with dry, sandy, and rocky soils, so will not do well with rich soils that hold a lot of moisture around the roots.

Chaste trees do best in well-draining acidic to neutral soils, though are fine in slightly alkaline ones too. Avoid soggy conditions that can contribute to root rot.


When it comes to the watering needs of chaste plants, they need deep watering during their first growing season. An ideal watering schedule would be every time the top inch of soil has become dry.

But again, be sure you are using well-draining soil so water is not puddling at a standstill around the root ball. Once they have been established, chaste trees really don’t need watering at all.1

This drought tolerance is surprising given that in its native habitat, it often grows best near riverbanks and seashores. But if there is a really dry period in your area, you will probably appreciate a drink now and then.

Overwatering a chaste tree is the main cause of leaf spots and if you are living in a colder climate where the plant may die off in the winter, it may cause the plant to go into winter dormancy in poor health.

Temperature and Humidity

Chaste trees can thrive equally well in humid areas such as the US Southeast or the super-arid regions of the Southwest. However, it may not thrive as well in areas with excessive rain since too much moisture leads to root rot.

It can withstand low temperatures of up to -9 degrees Fahrenheit, but like it was mentioned before, it thrives best year-round in areas with less frigid winters.


Chaste trees don’t require much in the way of feeding. Every year or two, using a general, slow-release, balanced fertilizer as per the instructions on the product’s label should suffice.

Overfertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth, which can be a problem for this fast-growing plant. This excessive green growth can also impact the color of the flowers.

Chaste trees can naturally handle very nutrient-poor soil, making it a favorite of gardeners who like low-maintenance plants.2

Chaste tree, Chastetree, Vitex, Monk’s Pepper

(Vitex-agnus castus)

Chase Tree in an oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Genus: Vitex
  • Leaf: Palmate (hand-shaped) and grayish-green with green undersides
  • Bark: Young trees have grayish-brown smooth bark. As the tree matures, it will become dark gray with long, deep grooves
  • Seed: Small, hard and black or dark brown chasteberry
  • Blossoms: Five to seven-inch spikes of small lavender blue, purple, pink or white flowers bloom yearly
  • Fruit: Tiny hard black berries about the size of a peppercorn
  • Native Habitat: Arid and semi-arid regions of the Mediterranean and Western Asia
  • Height: Can reach anywhere from 3 to 20 feet depending on where it is grown
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Native Growing Zone: Zones 7-11

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Data Deficient


How To Identify Chaste Tree: ID Chart (Monk’s Pepper)

Identifying a chaste tree involves examining its unique features such as leaves, flowers, branches, and fruits, enabling you to distinguish it confidently.

Keep reading to know more about chaste tree identification.

Chaste Flower

Chaste tree’s most identifiable feature is probably its dense 6 to 12-inch spikes of colorful flowers. They will be either lavender-blue, blue, purple, pink or white.

Chaste Branches

Its four-edged branches are light brown and in earlier years, and covered with a fine down in its earlier stages of growth.

Chaste Leaves

There are usually 5 to 7 lobed, hand-shaped leaves that are a greenish-gray hue with green undersides.

Chaste Seed and Fruits (Chaste Tree Identification)

The berries are small, hard, blackish to dark brown, and contain four seeds and no pit.

Two of the reasons a chaste tree is so popular as a decorative plant are its pleasant peppery aroma and the fact it blooms later in the year, giving your garden some nice color when many other flowers may not be.

History of Chaste Tree (Chaste Tree Facts)

Chaste tree got its name from its purported benefits as an anaphrodisiac– a substance that reduces libido. In Greek mythology, the virginal Goddess Vesta believed chaste trees to be sacred.

In Ancient Greece, women would adorn the flowers and place the leaves on their beds to preserve their chastity during fertility festivals honoring the goddess Demeter. Another name for a chaste tree is Monk’s pepper.

Photo of chaste flower on a tree with the blue sky as its background.

(Image: Renee Grayson6)

During medieval times, monks would use chaste tree seeds and berries on their food in lieu of pepper to suppress sexual urges. They also laid the leaves on their bed and scattered the chaff on the floor of their bedrooms.

To this day in Italy, monasteries lay chaste flowers along the path leading to the cloisters of novices. While today it’s primarily used medicinally for female reproductive health, in the past, it was used for a number of other purposes such as swelling, hypochondria, liver issues, and gastrointestinal issues such as flatulence.

Though it was used for a number of female-related issues long ago as well such as increasing menstrual flow and stimulating the production of breast milk. Its Latin name Vitex is derived from a word meaning ‘basketwork’ and even in the present day, the tree’s tough branches are used to make baskets, fences, and similar items.

Pruning a Vitex Tree

Chaste trees can grow up to 20 feet tall and just as wide, making pruning an important part of your plant’s maintenance if you don’t want it to overtake your garden. If you prefer, you can train it to become a single-trunk small tree rather than a sprawling shrub by regularly pruning away shoots to encourage the emergence of a central leader.

While heavy pruning is often damaging to a number of plants, chaste trees handle it quite well. Pruning in the winter helps control the size of the shrub and helps it maintain an attractive shape.

Deadheading spent flowers–which can be a bit cumbersome with larger shrubs like chaste trees– will encourage a second blooming of flowers about six weeks after the first.

How To Stop Chaste Tree Disease

As for chaste tree disease prevention, there is not much to worry about in this regard as it does not appear to be prone to any afflictions in particular.3 And as for common pests of the chaste tree, there really are none.

These two factors surely contribute to its reputation as a low-maintenance, easy-to-manage plant. The thing it is most vulnerable to is the aforementioned root rot if soil conditions are too wet.

Chaste Tree Benefits

If you are interested in chaste trees for their medicinal benefits, here are some things to know:

In modern times, the chaste tree is most touted for its ability to promote female reproductive health in a variety of respects from easing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, to promoting regular periods to treating infertility. However, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, none of its purported uses have been strongly proven in scientific studies.4

Close up image of the seeds of chaste tree berry.

(Image: liesvanrompaey5)

It says some studies have suggested it may help PMS, but considered them poorly designed. Because chaste tree berry may have hormonal effects, it is not recommended for use in women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have hormone-sensitive conditions like breast cancer.

Chaste tree grows quickly, produces beautiful flowers, and needs very little maintenance, making it a perfect addition to any garden that supports its growing conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chaste Tree

Are There Different Varieties of Chaste Tree?

Yes, there are six different kinds, which are; Abbeville Blue, Alba, Shoal Creek, Blue Puffball, Rosa Ann, and Rosea.

Should You Put Mulch Around a Chaste Tree?

Yes, organic mulch around the chaste tree can help retain proper moisture levels and control weed growth.


1Martin, C. A. (2023). Vitex agnus-castus. Virtual Library of Phoenix Landscape Plants. Retrieved December 16, 2023, from <>

2Rutledge, N. (2013). CHASTE TREE. Valdosta State University. Retrieved December 16, 2023, from <>

3University of Florida. (2023). Chastetree. University of Florida Gardening Solutions. Retrieved December 16, 2023, from <>

4University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester. (2023). Chaste Tree (Chasteberry). University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved December 16, 2023, from <>

5Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus). Photo by liesvanrompaey. CC BY 4.0 DEED | Attribution 4.0 International. Cropped and Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

6Chaste tree blooms. Photo by Renee Grayson. Attribution (CC BY 2.0). Cropped and Resized. Flickr. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

7Species Information Image: Purple Flower in Bloom Photo by Griffin Taylor. (2019, June 6) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from <>