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Growing Wisteria as a Standard

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Growing a vining plant such as wisteria as a standard, means training it to develop a more treelike form. This is a guide about growing wisteria as a standard.


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September 12, 2016

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!

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June 28, 2017

A lot of unusual things happen in the garden. I would wager most go unnoticed by most gardeners. I find these odd happenings interesting and I like to share them on ThriftyFun. Well, here's one that has left me flabbergasted. I even sent pictures to my ag agent and am awaiting his reply.

I have two wisterias I am training as standards. (With most plants, training them as a standards is optional. With wisterias, it is almost a necessity. It is about the only way to keep them at a manageable size. Otherwise, you would have 50-75 foot vines crawling everywhere).


I've covered parts of this in other posts, so bear with me. I found wisteria seed on a sidewalk, brought them home and planted them. That was twenty years ago. For the first fifteen years, the plants stayed in small clay pots above ground. They stayed rather small, they never bloomed.

Then I gave them a place in the ground. They doubled in size in no time. It was another five years though, before one finally bloomed. The other, I thought had died. I blamed it on the 3 degree weather we had.

I decided to saw down the 'dead' wisteria. I never got around to it. After a month, I began to see bits of green on one limb. Well, maybe only one side was dead. I waited.

Within a few weeks, the wisteria had completely filled out and looked as healthy as the one that bloomed. I was glad it hadn't died. I had made it the focal point of my back yard.

Today I noticed a bloom bud on it. I had been pulling all the tender new shoots off to help it keep a tree form. There's no telling how many potential bloom buds I have pulled off. I won't pull any more, at least for a while.

Wisteria are among the earliest plants to bloom, around early to mid spring, long before the leaves are mature. Well, it's now June 27. The wisteria has long been covered in leaves. And now, it decides to bloom.

I waited twenty years for these wisterias to bloom. When I saw bloom buds on the first one, I was overjoyed. But sadly that 3 degree weather killed them. And there were no bloom buds on the second one. I was heartbroken.

But wait. Nature is always prepared. There were reserve bloom buds on that first wisteria. A bit of warm weather brought them out. And sure enough, I did see blooms after twenty years.

When I realized the second wisteria wasn't dead, I thought perhaps in another year, I will see it bloom, too. I cannot describe to you how I felt when I saw that bloom bud, today. Either Nature is very, very cruel, or trying to teach me patience.

While writing this, I got an answer from my ag agent. He says this is very unusual. He can only attribute it to the abnormal weather we've been having.

Whatever, after waiting twenty years, my patience paid off. Not once, but twice. Quite frankly, I think Nature owed me this.



If/when this bloom bud mature into a full size panicle (I see no reason why it shouldn't), I will post a picture. Not only that, if I get several blooms, I will call the local newspaper and ask if they are interested.

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January 26, 2014

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.

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