Flip Side Chaste TreeVitex trifolia x agnus-castus 'Bailtexone' (PP# 30,283)
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Vitex trifolia x agnus-castus 'Bailtexone' (PP# 30,283)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Flip Side Chaste Tree is a hybrid Vitex that combines striking purple-blue flower spikes with dark green leaves that are purple when you flip them over. It forms a wide bush, growing to 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and blooming continuously form early summer into fall. You will love how tough it is, and fast-growing, soon making a great feature and taking heat, humidity and sun in it’s stride. It’s perfect for borders, slopes and rocky places, as well as at the beach. Very drought-resistant, it’s a top choice for xeric or ‘water-wise’ gardening, and it can be grown in a large planter box.
Full sun is perfect for the Flip Side Chaste Tree which thrives in dry soil once it is established. It loves heat and humidity, so avoid shade and wet soil. It’s free of pests and diseases and ignored by deer. It even grows well in salty soils, beach gardens and tolerates ocean spray without a problem. A simple spring pruning is all it takes to enjoy profuse blooming every year.
There are so many different shrubs, it’s understandable that some get overlooked. Styles of gardening change, and with the growing demand for more ‘water-wise’ plants, the net is cast wider in search of them. That’s why there is a growing interest in chaste trees, or Vitex, a small group of plants that are highly-adapted to growing in heat and sun, with little water. They even grow by the sea, and with brackish water. The European chaste tree from the Mediterranean is the one usually seen, but there are others, including the purple chaste tree, which as we might guess has purple shoots and leaves. It comes from east Africa, so it isn’t very hardy, but that improves when it is crossed with the much more cold-resistant European species. That’s exactly what renowned plant expert Michael Dirr did, and the result is a knockout. The big flower spikes have gorgeous purple-blue flowers, and flip over a dark-green leaf and you will see the deep purple underside. Adding that richer tone gives a subtle depth to the whole plant, creating a great contrast with the flowers. Tough, drought-resistant and gorgeous too, the Flip Side Chaste Tree is an absolute winner.
The Flip Side Chaste Tree is a broad deciduous shrub that grows to about 8 feet tall, and a little wider, perhaps to 10 feet across. It has a vase shape, with many branches, and it could be raised up on a multi-stem framework if wanted. It is fast-growing and vigorous, reaching about 5 feet within the first 3 years after planting. The young stems are flexible, gray-green and covered with a fine felt of short hairs. Older stems are grayer, and the bark begins to flake on thicker, mature branches. The leaves are divided into 5 narrow leaflets, arranged like the spokes of a wheel, with the longest about 3 inches long. The upper surface is a dark, muted green, looking grayer at a distance, while the underside is a rich deep-purple, visible when you turn to the ‘flip side’. This darker color also adds depth to the overall appearance of the plant, flashing darker when the wind rustles the leaves. The leaves have a spicy, sage-like aroma when crushed.
Flowering begins in early summer – late June or July – and continues into September and possibly later in the hottest areas. Each new stem produces a 6-inch spike of around 250 small flowers, and the flower stem is soft gray-purple, with gray-blue buds opening into tubular flowers with 5 flaring lips. The color is a wonderful rich purple blue of a purity usually seen only in plants like delphinium. Each flower stem is attractive for about 2 weeks, with new stems produced continuously during the long season of bloom. The flowers are heavy nectar-producers and they attract hordes of pollinating insects, butterflies of all kinds, and ever hummingbirds. This bush is a busy way-station for local insects – and kids admiring them. Flower spikes mature into sprays of seed pods that look like pepper-corns, and they were once called ‘monks’ pepper’.
The rounded shrub is perfect for late color in beds and borders, and even on a lawn, especially in a smaller space. It can also be grown on slopes and rocky places, and even in large tubs and planter boxes. It is perfect for all those hot, dry places out in the sun where it can be hard to keep plants growing – this tree is your answer. It is also an excellent choice for coastal areas and beach cottages.
The Flip Slide Chaste Tree is hardy in zones 7, 8 and 9. It is possible that it will survive in zone 6 with winter damage, making a smaller shrub but still flowering. As this hybrid variety is less hardy than regular chaste trees, if you live in zones 5 and 6 we recommend one of our other varieties.
The Flip Slide Chaste Tree should be planted in full sun for good flowering. In areas with cool summers a hot place against a south-facing well is a good location for it. Plant in any well-drained soil, avoiding low-lying and wet areas. Even sandy, dry and rocky soils are suitable for good growth. Once established this shrub is very drought resistant, and perfect for today’s ‘water-wise’ gardens. It is resistant to salt-spray from the ocean and even tolerates brackish water supplies.
Pests and diseases don’t bother the Flip Slide Chaste Tree, and neither do deer. It is a good idea to prune each spring. Young trees should be pruned to build a sturdy framework of branches, removing weak and slender ones. After a few years, start cutting back the previous year’s growth to just an inch or two, leaving the main framework untouched. This will keep a neater structure and produce the most blooms.
A hybrid tree, the Flip Slide Chaste Tree is a cross between the European chaste tree, Vitex agnus-castus, which grows naturally all around the Mediterranean, and the purple chaste tree, Vitex trifolia ‘Purpurea’, a selected form of a plant that grows from East Africa to Polynesia. It is only hardy in zone 9, but V. agnus-castus is hardy in zone 5, so the hybrid is intermediate. Michael Dirr of the University of Georgia, one of America’s most outstanding and well known horticulturists, made it in 2012, and selected one seedling from the crop the following year. It was named ‘Bailtexone’ and after growing it for some years a patent was taken out in 2019 by Bailey Nurseries of Newport, Minnesota. They reproduce it and make it available for gardens under the registered trademark name of Flip Slide®.
The arrival of the Flip Side Chaste Tree as the first hybrid Vitex is exciting. It announces that this one rarely-grown shrub is coming into the garden spotlight, and it’s sure to be a big hit. Be the first in your community to grow it, but order now – our very limited stock won’t last long, and we’d hate you to miss out.