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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When Should I Prune My Vitex Tree?

Q. When should Vitex tree be trimmed and how much should be cut?

Vitex in its winter form
A. Vitex blooms in early summer through late June or July. If this plant is pruned with a hedge shears you will likely affect how it blooms this summer.

Larger vitex in late June
Vitex with flowers in June
Any pruning done now should selectively remove entire branches back to a crotch. This is a pruning technique called “drop-crotching”. This technique reduces the size of a plant while still retaining its natural form. Drop-crotching avoids plant injuries due to “topping”.

Vitex in bloom in May
Limbs that add height or size are removed at the juncture with a branch of smaller size. This type of limb removal maintains terminal buds at a lower height, retains flowers and maintains the architecture of the plant.
The opposite of drop-crotching is topping, or shearing the plant at a desired height or size. We do not want to do that to most trees. After reducing the size of Vitex we would remove any crossed branches or broken branches and shape the tree to maintain its symmetry.

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