Texas lilac, also known as chaste tree or monk’s pepper, is a small shrub that can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 7b to 11. As the fragrant flowers are quite attractive to bees, this plant is often grown near honey production centers. In the home landscape, it makes an attractive ornamental specimen, a great back border plant, and is commonly planted around patios and decks.
The Texas lilac grows as tall as 20 feet, with a round habit that can reach up to 20 feet wide. The plant’s deciduous palm-shaped leaves are green to blue-green through the summer and fall. They are of little autumn interest. Beginning in May, the Texas Lilac produces large terminal flower panicles all about the plant. Most common varieties of Texas lilac, such as montrose purple and shoal creek, produce purple panicles that reach eight or ten inches in length. Blooms can last straight through the summer and even to the first fall frost.
The Texas lilac is widely available throughout the U.S. southern states and beyond. Typically, the plant is sold ready for planting in the yard, though it can be grown from seed if desired. For best flowering results, select a full sun location. If not available, the plant will also perform well in partial shade. The Texas lilac can adapt to a range of soil types, though wet conditions are problematic and should be avoided. It can be placed in the landscape at virtually any time of the year, but it is best to do so in spring or fall to avoid severe heat and cold.
Texas lilac should be watered at regular intervals from April until October. Allow the soil to dry between watering. During the winter no additional water is necessary.
This plant naturally branches very close to the ground to form a wide shrubby tree. Pruning depends on the gardener’s landscaping needs. The Texas lilac tolerates severe pruning to maintain a desired size. Do this when the plant is dormant during the winter months. Some gardeners choose to train this plant into a tree form. This can be done when the plant is very young. Simply do not allow the central leader to branch until it has reached several feet in height or more.