Can You Grow Wisteria In Shade

Wisteria vines typically start blooming in the spring and may continue into the summer.

Types of wisteria:

There are two varieties of wisteria: Asian and American. Although aggressive growers, Asian wisterias are well-known for their stunning blossoms. American wisterias are less aggressive and still produce beautiful blossoms. Compare the most popular wisteria varieties.

Flower color:

Wisteria comes in a range of colors, such as white, pink, and blue tones, in addition to the well-known purple blossoms. If you believe you have seen a yellow wisteria flower, it was probably a golden chain tree (Laburnum).


Wisterias are deciduous, which means that when the weather becomes chilly in the fall, they lose their leaves. The misunderstanding is occasionally brought on by a different vine known as evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata).

Avoid planting aggressive wisterias close to your home as they can cause damage and have even been known to destroy buildings.

Wisterias can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but to promote healthy bloom development, make sure the vines get at least six hours of direct sunlight everyday. If you reside in a colder area, pick a planting location that is protected because a heavy spring frost can harm the flower buds.

Create a planting hole that is the same depth as the plant and twice as wide, then level the plant with the soil surface. Because the vines will soon fill in, you should space your plants at least 10 to 15 feet apart along the support structure.

Wisterias don’t need much care once they are planted to promote healthy growth. Water frequently over the first year until the roots take hold.

After planting, wisterias could take some time to come out of dormancy and might not start to leaf until early summer. They will leaf out at the regular time the following spring, but don’t be surprised if they don’t bloom. Wisterias take three to five years to reach full maturity and may not start blooming until then.

Wisterias grow quickly and can reach heights of up to 10 feet in in one growing season. That works out well if you need to quickly cover a fence or pergola but don’t want the vines to take over your landscape. Regular pruning (once in the summer and once in the winter) not only controls wisteria’s growth but also encourages more robust flowering by creating a framework of horizontal branches and causing spurs to grow at regular intervals.

Cut back the current year’s growth to five or six leaves in July or August, or roughly two months after the plant flowers, to get rid of stray shoots and make short branches that will produce flowers the following year. Summer pruning needs to be done more frequently. Re-prune the plant in January or February while it is dormant by removing two or three buds from the growth from the previous year.

The first few years of wisteria’s growth are crucial for creating the desired framework for the plant’s development. As soon as your wisteria begins to grow, start connecting particular lateral shoots to its support structure. You should also cut down any extra growth. An aggressive pruning may be required on elder plants to promote the growth of new branches. Cut down aging branches to the main primary stem to accomplish this. The spaces will soon be filled with new side branches that can be connected back into the support structure.

Visit the Royal Horticultural Society to view a video on how to prune wisteria vines properly.

Which wisteria does shade best?

Although the majority of wisteria plants like full sun, a shaded location is occasionally the only choice. If it applies to your garden, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of one of these lovely plants. Wisteria sinensis is the ideal wisteria for shade. One of the few Wisteria cultivars with a potential for partial sun blooming is this one.

But remember that most Wisteria require full sun to bloom. You may never get to witness the magnificent sight of the plant completely bloomed if you choose to plant yours in partial sun or shade.

Does wisteria grow in the shade?

In the spring, wisteria blooms ferociously, producing clusters of lilac-colored flowers on fresh growth that develops from spurs off the main stalks. Check out our Wisteria Growing Guide for more information on wisteria maintenance, including planting and pruning.

About Wisteria

Wisteria is a long-living vining shrub with cascades of blue to purple blossoms that, in the spring and early summer, look stunning hanging from a pergola or archway. However, this vine is known to grow fairly heavy and to grow quickly and aggressively, frequently reaching lengths of more than 30 feet. It’s advised not to put wisteria vines too close to your home since they will squirm their way into any crack or crevice they can find.

Beautifully fragrant wisteria flowers offer a feast for the senses. A brown, bean-like pod remains on the plant during the winter after flowering. There are only blooms on fresh growth.

Note: Be careful when planting wisteria! The wisteria plant contains lectin and wisterin, which are poisonous to people, animals, and even pets. If taken in significant quantities, these poisons can result in anything from nausea and diarrhea to death.

Is Wisteria an Invasive Plant?

The wisteria species Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda, which are not native to North America, are regarded as invasive in several areas. If you want to add a new wisteria to your garden, we advise choosing one of the native North American varieties, such as American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) or Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya), which are excellent alternatives to the Asian species.

Do you want to know how to distinguish between North American and Asian species?

While North American wisteria is not quite as aggressive in its growing tendencies and has smooth seed pods and fruits in addition to more-or-less cylindrical, bean-shaped seeds, Asian wisteria is an aggressive grower with fuzzy seed pods. Another distinction is that the flowers of American and Kentucky wisterias appear in the late spring after the plant has begun to leaf out, whereas those of Chinese wisteria do not.

When to Plant Wisteria

  • Plant during the plant’s dormant season in the spring or fall.
  • Wisteria can be grown from seed, although plants from seeds frequently take many years to mature and begin to bloom. It is advised to buy wisteria plants that are already established or to begin with a cutting.

Where to Plant Wisteria

  • Put a plant in full sun. Even while wisteria will grow in some shade, it won’t likely bloom. Sunlight is necessary.
  • Wisteria should be grown in fertile, wet, but well-draining soil.
  • Wisteria will grow in most soils unless it is in bad condition, in which case you need add compost. Find out more about soil improvements and getting the soil ready for planting.
  • Because wisteria grows swiftly and can easily engulf its neighbors, pick a location apart from other plants.
  • Additionally, wisteria is renowned for encroaching on and infiltrating surrounding buildings like homes, garages, sheds, and so on. We highly advise against growing wisteria too near your house!
  • Wisteria vines need a very strong support, like a metal or wooden trellis or pergola, to climb on. Plan carefully and use substantial materials to construct your structure because mature plants have been known to become so heavy that they destroy their supports.

Wisteria looks gorgeous growing up the side of a house, but use caution when planting it because it is a very strong vine that will get into any crack or gap!

Caring for Wisteria

  • Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch and a layer of compost under the plant each spring to keep moisture in and keep weeds at bay.
  • Phosphorus is often used by gardeners to promote flowering. In the spring, work a few cups of bone meal into the soil. Then, in the fall, add some rock phosphate. Study up on soil amendments.
  • If you get less than an inch of rain each week, water your plants. (To determine how much rain you are receiving, set an empty food can outside and use a measuring stick to gauge the depth of the water.)
  • During the summer, try pruning the out-of-control shoots every two weeks for more blooms.

Pruning Wisteria

  • In the late winter, prune wisteria. Remove at least half of the growth from the previous year, leaving only a few buds on each stem.
  • Also prune in the summer after customary flowering if you prefer a more formal appearance. On fresh growth, spurs from the main shoots of the wisteria develop its blossoms. Trim back every new shoot from this year to a spur, leaving no more than 6 inches of growth. So that there are no free, trailing shoots, the entire plant can be trained, roped in, and otherwise organized throughout this procedure.
  • Mature plants that have been cultivated informally require little to no more pruning. However, for a plant that has been formally trained, side branches should be pruned back in the summer to 6 inches, then again in the winter to 3 buds.
  • Possess you a fresh wisteria? After planting, aggressively prune the vine. Then, the next year, trim the main stem or stems to a height of 3 feet from the growth of the previous year. After the framework has grown to its full size, midsummer extension growth should be cut back to where it started that season.

How much sun is required for wisteria?

The greatest way to utilize wisteria’s breathtaking beauty and incredible vitality is to grow it as a little tree, or standard. Long racemes of sweet-smelling May flowers hang down from soft, pruned leaf heads and sway slightly with each breeze. The compact head of a Tree Wisteria looks amazing in a mixed bed of perennials, bulbs, and annuals. The impression is beautiful and dignified.

Please be aware that wisterias typically take a while to emerge from dormancy after planting. Please be aware that your plant won’t start to leaf out until early summer. It will thereafter leaf out at the usual time in succeeding years (midspring).

Choosing a Location: Wisterias grow and flower most effectively in areas with plenty of sunlight, preferably at least 6 hours every day. They do well in any kind of soil as long as it drains well.

In order to plant your bareroot Wisteria, take off the packing and give the roots a few hours in a bucket of water. Then, dig a hole that is both large enough to permit the roots’ spread and deep enough to allow you to set the crown, or the location where the stem and roots converge, 1 inch below the soil’s surface. Insert the roots into the planting hole and arrange them naturally or like the spokes of a wheel. The roots of many woody plants are brittle, so use additional care when positioning them in the planting hole to prevent breaking them. With one hand holding the crown 1 inch below the soil’s surface, use the other to push soil into the hole while circling the roots to prevent air pockets from forming. Then, using both hands, compact the soil close to the crown. To create a basin, create a rim of earth around the perimeter of the planting hole. This basin is used to collect, hold, and direct water to the roots. Finally, thoroughly immerse the plant.

Please be aware that once bareroot plants are taken out of their packing, they dry up rapidly, especially on a sunny, windy day. Until you are ready to plant, we strongly advise that you keep the roots wrapped in wrapping material.

Staking: To keep their heads aloft in severe gusts, tree wisterias need additional support. After planting, drive the wooden stake that came with your tree 6 to 12 inches deep and 1/2 inch away from the plant’s trunk into the earth. Using the plastic tie tape that came with the tree, affix the trunk to the stake numerous times, spacing them apart by about 8 inches. You’ll need to swap out the original stake for a bigger wooden stake or a sturdy steel pipe as the head and trunk grow bigger. Check the tree every spring and autumn to ensure that the stake is securely in place and that the tie tape used to attach the trunk to the stake is not excessively tight and preventing the trunk from expanding. Plants need to be firmly staked at all times.

Watering and Fertilizing: To hasten wisterias’ establishment in the first year after planting, they require the equivalent of 1 inch of water each week. If the sky doesn’t provide enough moisture, water deeply once a week. Plants that are established only require irrigation during extended dry spells. Wisterias don’t need much, if any, fertilizing because too much fertilizer prevents blossom. Give plants a gentle feeding of 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 at a rate of 3/4 cup per square yard in the early spring each year if your soil is particularly weak or sandy.

Overwintering: For the first few winters after planting, cover the main stem with a piece of plastic tubing in cold-winter conditions like ours here in Litchfield (Zone 5 [-20F]). To encircle the stem, make a straight incision from one end to the other and pry the cut open. (Precut tubing could be available at your nearby garden center.) To stop wind and frost from damaging branches on older specimens, cat’s-cradle bind the branches together using twine to form a web of intertwined strings.

Pruning: Tree Wisterias need to have the long, twining branches they generate in the summer pruned lightly but frequently in order to maintain the globe shape of the head. A couple of weeks prior to the first date of your first frost, they also require one severe pruning in late summer or early fall. Remove all branches that are in the wrong place and reduce the current season’s development to just 5 to 6 huge buds (leaving stubs that are about 6 inches long). This drastic haircut inhibits growth and promotes the transformation of some leaf buds into flower buds. Don’t let pruning errors keep you up at night. Wisterias are highly understanding plants; strong growth the following season will give you another chance.

Can wisteria thrive in dim conditions?

Mandarin wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) The American cultivar has the drawback of not flowering in the shade. On the other hand, Chinese wisteria blooms exquisitely in the shadow, but gardeners take a chance dealing with its possible invasiveness.

What kind of shade-producing climbing plant is best?

Many of us have gardens that have at least some shaded areas. Even those of us with south-facing gardens may experience daylong shade due to buildings, structures, and items as more and more of us choose to live in cities and suburbs. Sun-loving plants won’t do well in gardens that face north or east because these areas typically receive more shade than sun throughout the day. You should not worry, though, if you believe that this condemns you to a monotonous, lifeless, bland garden devoid of color. There are many different kinds of plants, many of which appreciate the shade, and some of which continue to bloom in the spring and summer with wonderful, vibrant flowers.

You may have a garden that is as enticing, captivating, and colorful as any; all you need to know is which plants are most suited to your particular environment. However, there is still a wide variety of shade-tolerant climbing plants, or climbers, to choose from. Climbing plants are popular among gardeners because of their adaptability, which includes adding impact and texture to gardens as well as softening sharp edges or the appearance of sheds or fences, serving as privacy walls, and, if they bear flowers, assisting the local fauna and pollinators.

Understanding How Much Shade

Because there are many different types of specialized shade conditions and climbers have different reactions to various levels of shade, the first thing you should think about and comprehend is how much shade you have. Following are the primary categories of shade, which you can use to determine what you have.

Dappled Shade

Shade that is produced when something partially blocks sunlight, such a tree canopy, is referred to as dappled shade. A lesser amount of the blotchy light still filters through. Depending on how much light gets through, similar to partial shade.

Heavy Shade

a location with less than two hours of direct sunlight per day, which may be obscured by a structure or thick vegetation.

Important: If you experience the sun during these times, it will actually apply more direct light, which may upgrade your shade category. For instance, you might believe that you have moderate shade since you only receive up to three hours of direct sunlight each day, but if these hours of sunlight fall during the height of the sun at noon, you would consider that the region is actually partially shadowed.

Consider Your Soil Too

In the darkened areas, your soil needs special consideration. Shaded locations are known to have either extremely dry or extremely wet soil. The best course of action for you to take if your soil is dry is to amend it before planting anything. This can be achieved by digging it up and then adding a lot of high-quality compost and a drainage enhancer like Perlite. This is much more important if your soil is predominantly clay.

In the spring of each year, it’s also a good idea to spread an organic mulch over the top of the planting area and around the base of your climbers. This will cause the soil to degrade and get better. In the event that it is wet and the situation is reversed, you proceed just as before. However, in rainy situations, it could be necessary to emphasize the drainage improver more. Sorted.

Shade Tolerant Climbers

As long as you take care of them, these shade-tolerant climbers can be planted just once and will produce stunning flowers every year. So, here are several possibilities for you to think about:

Climbing Roses

While some climbing roses do well in light to moderate shade, some do not do well in heavy shadow. Roses are a wonderful way to bring color and interest to an underused area of the garden, and because of their symbolism, they make people feel so good.

Climbing Hydrangea

There are numerous varieties of climbing hydrangeas that thrive in shadow, just like climbing roses. A fantastic plant for shade that adds color and interest and even self-clings is a climbing hydrangea. Once they start going, they expand fairly quickly.


Even in dense shade, ivy comes in all different types and makes excellent climbing plants. They won’t bloom, but they grow well and take up a lot of space, which is advantageous if seclusion is your primary concern. There are many different varieties of ivy; for a little added intrigue, mix solid-color and variegated versions.

Trachelospermum Star Jasmine

A fantastic climber that tolerates shade is star jasmine. Although it loves a sunny location, it can tolerate up to some mild shade. Because it is also renowned for its fragrance, it makes a fantastic climber. The little blooms’ name comes from their distinctive five-pointed form. Winter Jasmine and Yellow are also excellent options.


Honeysuckle has a wonderful floral aroma and can even bloom numerous times throughout the spring and summer, similar to star jasmine. They will self-cling to and grow up most surfaces when placed in up to mild shade, but they will require assistance to climb walls.


For gloomy settings, clematis are excellent climbers. With their profusion of blossoms in a range of shapes and colors, they are one of the climbing plants that grow the fastest. Even in places with a lot of shadow, certain clematis can grow.

Virginia Creeper (American Ivy)

This is a highly rapacious climber, so beware. But it is also incredibly lovely, which explains its appeal. It is typically applied to the walls of big houses. It can tolerate modest amounts of shade. It will produce little blooms in the summer and tiny blackberries in the fall. Green foliage will eventually turn to red and orange hues before dropping. a fantastic option if you have the space and want a vibrant color display.

Chile Lantern Tree

The Chile Lantern Tree, which stands out among its dark green leaves and produces nearly lantern-like scarlet blossoms in the warmer months, is an excellent choice for adding interest and perhaps serving as a focal point in the garden. grows successfully in light shade.

Japanese Quince ‘Pink Lady’

The pink lady, which is more of a climbing shrub, produces little pink flowers in the shape of a cup and small apple-like fruits that turn yellow from green. suitable for light to medium shade.

Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)

This beautiful, colorful climber has branches that yield clusters of greenish flowers, which are followed by pretty tiny berries. Autumn follows, when the leaves turn yellow. Best for dappled to light shade.