Question of the Week – Number One: December 23, 2021

“My Vitex tree has turned into a wide, bushy shrub. Can I thin it out? It’s become a jungle. I can’t work beneath it.”

Vitex plants are very strong-growing shrubs. It would be difficult to consider this species as trees in most cases unless they were trained single-trunk from the time they were young plants. So let me compromise as we do with crape myrtles…

If you leave them on their own, vitex plants in our area will grow to be 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

This is the Sperry Vitex that had become so overly thick before I did thinning pruning several years ago.

You can keep them somewhat smaller, and you can also train them to be more tree-like and less like shrubs by selective pruning in mid-winter, primarily to remove bottom branches.

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At that same time you can remove branches that overlap and rub against one another or that create an asymmetrical shape to the plant.

The same Sperry Vitex after my pruning to thin it out and restore a more natural growth form to the plant.

Do so carefully, however, to be sure you don’t end up with a mangled plant. They do seem to bloom well after that type of trimming. Removing branches results in vigorous new growth and flowers are produced on that new growth.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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