The calling cards of this compact tree are its spiky flowers.

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The shrubs are blooming and the trees are bursting—you know what time it is. Summertime brings gorgeous flowers, lush leaves, and bright colors in every corner of the garden. Seeing all the vibrant garden changes makes the summer heat almost bearable—almost. This season, a blooming tree with pretty lilac flower spikes has been catching our eyes, and we think it’s a gorgeous planting for Southern gardens.

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is also known as Texas lilac tree, Vitex, chasteberry, and Monk's pepper. It’s a great tree for small yards and compact spaces. The multi-trunked tree grows to heights of 10-15 feet tall and tends to spread. It produces small, spiked blue and lavender flowers in summer along with long, fragrant grey-green leaves. During the early hot days of the season, branched panicles emerge. Those are the colorful, easily recognized flower spikes that make chaste tree such a popular planting. Some selections produce pink and white flowers too.

It’s a hardy planting that’s drought tolerant and can stand up to the hot Southern climates, but you’ll get the best bloom by providing full sun and regular water in well-drained soil. It’s even hardy enough to plant in coastal conditions. Chaste tree can also withstand garden pests and browsing deer. It does require regular pruning to keep the tree looking its best. After planting, it doesn’t take long for Southern gardeners to declare this tree their favorite summer bloomer in the garden.

Some popular selections to plant in the South include 'Abbeville Blue', which has large, deep blue flowers, 'Montrose Purple', which produces violet spikes, 'Shoal Creek', which has blue-violet flowers, 'Salinas Pink', which has pink blooms, and 'Alba' and 'Silver Spire', both of which produce white flowers.

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Do you have any chaste trees growing in your garden? What trees are flowering in your yard this season?