Vitex agnus-castus Latifolia, or, as it is commonly known, Broad-leaved Chaste Tree, is a mid-sized deciduous aromatic shrub. Native to West Asia and southwestern Europe, this cultivar brings Mediterranean charm to your garden, whether as a specimen plant or in a mixed shrub border.
Latifolia is a large-leaved variety of Vitex agnus-castus, displaying dark green, palmate foliage. Each leaf consists of 5 or 7 oval leaflets and is very aromatic. Coming into bloom much later than most shrubs, this cultivar is enveloped by petite, purple violet blossoms in early autumn. The flowers are borne in upright panicles, rising atop the ends of the branches. Unlike Vitex agnus-castus, the cultivar Latifolia does not have medicinal properties, and it is mostly grown for its ornamental qualities. Leaves are often used as a spice in some Mediterranean cuisines and the inconspicuous fruit as a black pepper substitute.
Accustomed to warm climates, Broad-leaved Chaste Tree will thrive in a sunny location in the garden. When it comes to soils, this fragrant shrub will adapt to most of them, as long as proper drainage is provided.
Cultivated in Britain since 1570, Vitex agnus-castus is hardy in the United Kingdom but will appreciate a sheltered spot in the garden, ideally near a sunny wall, where it would be protected from harsh, drying winds. As a remarkably resistant cultivar with noteworthy qualities, this shrub has been awarded the Award of Garden Merit by Royal Horticultural Society. With a fast growth rate, this mid-sized shrub can grow to be 4 to 8 metres high and across, in a period of 10 to 20 years. As for the maintenances, keeping the bushy habit of Vitex agnus-castus Latifolia tidy and neat will not require much effort. Pruning should be done early in the spring, before the flowering season, to allow young growth to develop. In case your Broad-leaved Chaste Tree shrub looks overgrown, feel free to cut back any unwanted stems, as this cultivar is not bothered by hard pruning. After you prune the shrub, make sure to feed and mulch.