Issue: July 11, 2001


Europs daisy and hibiscus hardiness

Question:

I have a friend here in DeBaca County who has purchased some EUROPS Daisy and Hibiscus plants for her flower beds. She would like to know if these can be left out all year long or do they need to be brought in the wintertime? Thanks so much for you help. —Lisa, Ft. Sumner

Answer:

EUROPS daisies are tough in many ways but don't tolerate freezing, so they won't survive outdoors in your county.

Tropical hibiscus will freeze if left out over the winter, but a few relatives of hibiscus are hardy. Of the real hibiscus, the Hibiscus moscheutos cultivars are hardy in much of New Mexico. This hibiscus has very large blossoms, and they die back to the ground after freezing in the fall but return from their roots in the spring. They should survive in DeBaca County, especially if the roots are covered with straw mulch after the tops freeze down or if they are grown in a sheltered area that doesn't freeze too deeply. They are listed to be hardy to Zone 5 (USDA hardiness zone system). Some irrigation will be required (once a month in most winters).

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Plant indentification - Vitex

Question:

Enclosed is a sample of a plant that has caused some controversy. Some people think that it is illegal. I know it's not but can't remember its name. What is this plant with a leaf that looks a little like marijuana? — Anonymous

Answer:

The sample you sent, leaves with the suspicious look but strong smell, blue flowers, and seeds in a panicle is called the lilac chaste-tree, or vitex. Its scientific name is Vitex Agnus-castus. It is not illegal, it is not narcotic, but will probably give someone a terrible headache if they tried to smoke it. It is well-adapted to arid conditions (with limited supplemental watering). The flowers are attractive and produced over a long period in the early summer. The flowers can range from blue to pinkish to almost white. The plant can produce a small tree if pruned into tree form or can be allowed to grow as a shrub.

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For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page: desertblooms@nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.