Growing Wisteria

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
August 9, 2011

Flat stone path through flowering lavender wisteriaFew 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.


Plant Characteristics

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.

The Best Zones for Wisteria

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.

Where to Grow Wisteria

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.

Planting Wisteria

  1. To plant wisteria, work the soil deeply (18 to 24 inches) around the hole where the vine will be planted.
  2. Mix a couple handfuls of compost or well-rotted manure in with the original soil.

  3. Set the plant on the ground at the same height it was growing in the pot.
  4. Water in well and add a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant.
  5. Keep your newly planted wisteria watered well for several weeks after planting to allow it to become established.

Pruning Wisteria

Wisteria needs to be pruned a minimum of twice yearly to keep plants tidy and promote flowering.


Training Wisteria

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 remaining shoots 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.

Five Reasons Wisteria Fail to Bloom

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:

  1. Immature plants. Depending on whether you are starting new plants from seeds, cuttings, or young nursery stock, it can take 5, 10, or even 15 years or more before wisteria start to produce flowers. Start with grafted plants or those grown from cuttings that are known to have flowered relatively young. These plants usually flower much sooner than those grown from seed.

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  3. Too much nitrogen (or insufficient phosphorus). Some gardeners make the mistake of over-fertilizing wisteria to encourage them to flower. This can actually work against them, because excess nitrogen encourages the plant to produce foliage, usually at the expense of flowers.

  4. Planting too deeply. Setting plants in the ground too deeply may result in a delay of flowering or prevent them from blooming altogether.

  5. A lack of sun. Too much shade can cause vines to flower poorly. Although some types of wisteria may be root-hardy to Zone 4, many varieties won't bloom reliably there. In Zone 5, plants may sometimes fail to bloom after a severe winter freeze kills off flower buds.
  6. You're being too kind. Pruning is key to getting wisteria to flower. You have to keep pruning all of those errant new vines that keep sprouting up. Depending on the soil the species you're growing, and environmental conditions, you may need to snip shoots as often as every 4 to 6 weeks.

Growing Wisteria from Seed

Wisteria plants are often started from layered cuttings, but they are also easy to grow from seed.
  1. When the seedpods turn brown in the fall, remove the seeds and allow them to dry.
  2. Store them in the refrigerator until spring.
  3. In the spring, sow seeds directly in the ground (or in containers) after soaking them in water for 24 hours.
  4. It's important to note that wisteria grown from seed may not resemble the parent plant in form or color.
  5. They will also take longer to reach flowering size - anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

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13 Questions

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
June 15, 2018

This is a catch all area where I mix my soil. It seldom gets organized. So, forget about the junk. I want to draw your attention to something very interesting in this picture. Do Wisterias Weep?


This morning, I noticed something strange going on with this wisteria vine I've trained into a tree. It appeared to be weeping. I watched it for about 5 minutes and decided to get a picture.

I knew I couldn't get a still shot that would be any good, so I got a minute of video and copied a frame from it showing several drops of water(?) in mid air.

Do Wisterias Weep?


Do Wisterias Weep?


I checked back after writing this post. The sun was higher and the wisteria had stopped 'weeping'. I will check tomorrow at the same time to see if the phenomenon happens, again. Out of curiosity, I will send pictures to my ag agent, hoping he has an explanation.

My question: Has any TF member ever heard of a wisteria 'weeping'? It may be commonplace and something I just missed. My aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) weeps all the time (the droplets just don't drop to the floor).


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
June 17, 20180 found this helpful
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Well, the party's over. Fun while it lasted. I went out this morning, thoroughly hydrated the tree and placed a black tub under it Ten minutes later, I cut some runners out of the top. I waited. Within 5 minutes the wisteria was dripping.

The drops had no taste or color. They were just like water.

I looked where I made the cuts and saw 'water' oozing out. I believe this 'water' is technically different than sap. I will ask my ag agent about this.

I suppose in another setting, insects large enough to make cuts as large as I made, could accomplish the same effect.


Now, what if I had added purple food coloring to the water I used to hydrate the wisteria. Do you think I could have invited the neighbors over to watch my tree drip 'purple rain'?

Eat your heart out, Michael!

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October 5, 2017

I have a wisteria plant that is at least three years old or so and was told that it could take up to 10 years before it would bloom. Is this true? Right now it is growing on a chain link gate.



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October 5, 20170 found this helpful
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Wisterias bloom between 7-15 years old.

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April 13, 2012

How do you plant wisteria with just a dry root?

By db


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April 18, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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May 3, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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March 13, 2013

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


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March 7, 20140 found this helpful

Search the Internet for 'Wisteria Plant Liners'. You should find several suppliers. 'Liners' is a term used by nurserymen for small, recently rooted plants in about 4" containers.

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August 11, 2013

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

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May 27, 2013

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

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April 1, 2012

Where can I find wisteria?

By barbiewantstobeme from Munford, AL

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September 4, 2017

You can just plant the seeds that are in the pods. Nick the seeds slightly and soak them overnight before planting them. This is a page about planting wisteria pods.

Wisteria Pods

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February 15, 2017

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 page about starting a wisteria from a cutting.

Beautiful flowering Wisteria

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January 16, 2018

This is a page about wisteria vines not flowering. Wisteria are known for their fragrant, clumps of flowers. If your vines are not producing flowers, here are some tips to increase their blooms.

Wisteria Vines

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September 14, 2017

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

The Long Awaited Wisteria Bloom

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February 15, 2017

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.

Wisteria Photos

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