Few plants can rival the dramatic spring beauty of a wisteria vine in full bloom. Despite the showy flowers and delightful scent, wisteria plants have acquired a reputation for being difficult to grow. Don't be fooled. With the right growing conditions and some occasional pruning, wisteria is a beautiful, fast growing vine - and a worthwhile addition to nearly any garden.
Popular for their long, hanging clusters of violet flowers, there are around a dozen wisteria species available to gardeners, including two native to North America. The most common types grown are the Asian species Japanese wisteria (W. floribunda), and Chinese wisteria (W. sinensis). Japanese wisteria tends to have more vibrant color blooms and Chinese wisteria a sweeter scent. Both species need a large amount of growing space and look very similar in appearance. You can tell the difference between the two by the way they climb. The stems of Japanese wisteria twine around supports in a clockwise direction, while the stems of Chinese wisteria twine in a counterclockwise direction.
Wisteria grows best in zones 3 to 9. Not all varieties are suited to all zones, however, so check carefully to make sure the wisteria you choose is a proven performer where you live. If you lack space (or the ability to erect a sturdy support structure), the smaller American forms of the vine, such as Kentucky wisteria (W. macrostachya) or American wisteria (W. frutescens) don't grow as quickly and can be good substitutes for smaller gardens.
Wisteria will grow in partial shade and marginal soils, but performs best in sunny locations (6 or more hours per day) and in moist, fertile soils that drain well. Wisteria needs a large amount of growing space. These plants are vigorous climbers (growing 10 feet or more annually) and are easily capable of climbing to heights of 25 feet.
Once established, the Asian species can become invasive and difficult to get rid of - especially in the east. To help restrain the plant's spreading root system, wisteria can be planted in large containers buried in the ground.
To plant wisteria, work the soil deeply (18 to 24 inches) around the hole where the vine will be planted. Mix a couple handfuls of compost or well-rotted manure in with the original soil. Set the plant in the ground at the same height it was growing in the pot. Water in well and add a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant. Keep your newly planted wisteria watered well for several weeks after planting to allow it to become established.
Wisteria needs to be pruned a minimum of twice yearly to keep plants tidy and promote flowering.
1st-Summer Pruning (just after flowering)
2nd-Late Winter Pruning
You never have to worry about over-building supports for wisteria. Mature vines are heavy and will require ample support. To train young plants to grow on a trellis or arbor, choose an upright stem to serve as the leader and secure this to the support. You can then remove some of the side shoots and train the remainders to grow horizontally across the supports, or simply let them all twine across the supports naturally. Pinch off the main leader when it reaches the desired height.
One of the more frustrating aspects of growing wisteria is waiting for them to reach maturity and then watching them fail to bloom. Here are five common reasons wisteria fail to produce flowers:
Wisteria plants are often started from layered cuttings, but they are also easy to grow from seed. When the seedpods turn brown in the fall, remove the seeds and allow them to dry. Store them in the refrigerator until spring.
In the spring, sow seeds directly in the ground (or in containers) after soaking them in water for 24 hours. It's important to note that wisteria grown from seed may not resemble the parent plant in form or color. They will also take longer to reach flowering size - anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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Some varieties of wisteria have a raceme (a particular type of bloom), that can be as long as 30 inches and covered with over a hundred flowers. The variety I'm growing has a raceme averaging 12-18 inches and is covered with many fully developed flowers. So why would I post a picture of what appears to be a little, underdeveloped raceme? I thought you'd ask.
About 21 years ago, I was walking down a street where wisteria were growing to one side. They had bloomed earlier and now were dispersing their seed pods. The walk was littered with hundreds of them. I collected a few and brought them home.
I planted several seed in small pots rather than in the open ground. My plan was to grow these wisteria as standards (having a tree like, rather than running vine, habit). I wanted to keep them small and I knew the small pots would help keep their size in check.
Over the years, the plants grew to a height of about 6 feet and stayed at that height for several more years. I thought that by the fifth year I would have seen blooms. My heart would break a little each year as wisteria bloom time would come and go and there were no flowers.
After 18 years of caring for these plants and still no blooms, I removed them from their pots and planted them in the ground where they grew vigorously. Even with such vigorous growth, years 19 and 20 came and went, and still no blooms.
Today, I was watering some newly planted Pampas grass when something caught my eye. What!? Could this be? I saw a bloom on one of my wisterias. Small and underdeveloped, but a bloom. Oh, happy day! Twenty-one years of waiting was over. To make this moment even more joyous, was the fact that the bloom appeared when it did. It is now autumn. Normally, wisterias are one of the first plants to bloom in early spring.
Unchecked wisteria growing in the wild can attain a height of a hundred feet or more and be somewhat invasive, almost like kudzu. I didn't have room for, nor did I want a plant of that size. Checking their growth in pots was a good idea, but I overdid it, hence the 21 year wait. Had I grown them in 5 gallon buckets, I probably would have had blooms within 5 years.
My tip: If you plan to grow wisteria from seed (or small cuttings), and have them develop into standards, be sure to plant them in at least 5 gallon buckets. An exception for planting them in small pots would be if you want a bonsai. And truth be known, they make some of the most beautiful bonsai you will ever see.
Come this spring, I expect these wisteria to be covered in blooms. In following years, I expect them to take on a beautiful appearance, not unlike a large and ancient bonsai.
Twenty-one years, people, twenty-one years. Be happy for me!
Look closely at the top of the bottom picture. My little Wisteria 'tree' is sprouting runners. I will be pinching these off as long as I have this plant.
The Wisteria program is to grow a vine. I am forcing it to be a standard. So strong is the force of the program, if I could keep it as a standard for a thousand years, it would still try to be a vine.
And should I die after a thousand years and there was no one to pinch back the runners, they would continue to grow, longer and higher til their weight forced them to fall to the ground.
There, they would run along the ground, taking root as they went. Eventually, they would find a tall tree, climb it and make it it's home.
And true to the Wisteria program, it would grow to the tree top. Every Spring it would cover the tree with beautiful and deliciously scented racemes.
All that is, is a program.
Wisteria can actually be propagated from both soft and hard wood cuttings, depending on the time of year one works better than the other. This is a guide about starting a wisteria from a cutting.
Wisteria is a vining, flowering plant member of the legume family. The draping clusters of purple flowers are quite fragrant. It is typically grown as a woody vine, but can also be trained as a standard or small tree. This page contains wisteria photos.
The wisteria is not a tree. It is a vigorously growing and often invasive vine. It can be kept in check by training it to grow as a standard, whereby it takes on the appearance of a small tree.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
How do you plant wisteria with just a dry root?
Not sure what a 'dry root' is, although the words make me think of a piece of the plant that's been removed from the mother plant and then permitted to dry out-not such a good mental image of a plant that can survive, sorry.
However, if I'm am misunderstanding, and you have a viable plant part known as a whip, simply plant it so the root parts are at least 6" under good quality soil.
Then stake, mulch, and water it in well. You can apply a rooting hormone available in most garden centres to encourage root growth, and feed specifically formulated for wisteria at the same time. Keep the soil moist but not soggy the first spring and summer it's in the ground.
And then wait about five years for the whip to become a blooming shrub.
You'll wait about ten years for it to climb as high as a roof or along a fence, and about twenty before the runners become woody and thick enough to pull down said roof or fence:)
Or you can buy a potted wisteria that is already blooming. Transplant it and stand back, although it may not bloom the first season after transplanting.
Wisteria is one of the plants I miss most about the Deep South, crepe myrtle is the other.
Frugalsunnie is correct, "You'll wait about ten years for it to climb as high as a roof or along a fence, and about twenty before the runners become woody and thick enough to pull down said roof or fence:)"
Remember to sink 4x4 or even 6x6 treated posts in the ground with concrete to withhold the weight. DO NOT think you are going to buy one of those store bought vine climbers or trellises for one of these. My wisteria is heavy and the only part of my arbor that is holding up to it are the posts, which are 6x6. I am getting ready to cut the top of this wisteria and rebuild the arbor. I would recommend buying cedar planks (boards) and building your own trellis for a wisteria.
I had been trying to look for wisteria cutting suppliers, but could not get any. If any one can help me out with addresses of suppliers who can supply me few pieces of wisteria cuttings with roots. I am ready to pay for cost and freight
By Mohammad Ismail
Ellen Brown suggests planting the wisteria in the ground in a container in order to limit the aggressive expansion of its root system. My question is: what should the container be made of in order to prevent the roots from breaking out? We are considering building a wisteria walkway with a pergola on the side of our house. Unfortunately the sewing piping runs in the same area and we are worried about the roots invading that system. The manholes are concrete and the sewage lines in between are plastic piping? Thanks for any info.
By Moti Kl
for you to share the seeds with everybody
What is a suggested way to stabilize a wisteria plant that is slightly leaning? This plant was started by some shoots about 18 years ago. It is a beautiful plant that has heavy purple clusters of flowers in the spring. It has become overgrown, but is easily trimmed.
By K. Tate
Where can I find wisteria?
By barbiewantstobeme from Munford, AL