How To Care For A Wisteria Plant

Location is the most crucial aspect to think about when producing wisteria. Since wisteria is a twining vine, it needs a strong support and regular pruning to stay in check. Wisteria thrives in open locations with easily manicured lawns surrounding them.

Although it will withstand a variety of soil types, this vine needs deep, rich soil that is slightly damp.

About the only significant requirement for wisteria vine maintenance after planting is pruning. Wisteria doesn’t need fertilizer because it grows quickly and is drought-tolerant, so it just needs a little water.

Can wisteria be grown in pots?

Wisteria can be grown against a house wall or another robust building, like a sturdy pergola. Wisteria can be grown in a container, but only if done so as a conventional tree and with regular trimming to keep its shape. This is a highly labor-intensive option.

How to plant wisteria

Wisteria can be planted in spring or fall. Plant at the same level as it was in the original pot and water in thoroughly after thoroughly preparing the soil to guarantee a proper root run. Like an espalier fruit tree, tie the stems to horizontal galvanized wires connected to the wall. Remove all but one stem if it is climbing a pergola, and tie this stem to the post.

How to plant wisteria in a pot

Wisterias can be planted in pots, but because they are hungry plants, you will need to feed them frequently. Choose this option only if you’re training your wisteria to be a standard. Use a quality tree and shrub compost and the biggest pot you can fit. Plant at the same height as it was in the first pot and give it plenty of water.

How to care for wisteria

The wisteria plant is ravenous. During the growing season, fertilize once a month with a high potash fertilizer to promote greater flower blooming. Weekly wisteria fertilizer and watering. Use organic mulch in the fall, such as well-rotted horse dung or homemade compost, to protect your plants.

How and when to prune wisteria

Wisteria should be pruned twice a year in August and February. Focus on integrating the plant into the support throughout the first few years. This entails cutting back side shoots to five buds in early August, training in strong side shoots, and removing very low branches.

How to prune wisteria in summer

Wisteria that is pruned in the summer will produce short spurs that will transport the spring blossoms.

  • Cut the long, robust shoots back from the base of the current season’s growth to a few buds.
  • Choose a few sturdy shoots from young plants (less than three years old) to tie to wires or a trellis.
  • Simply cut back side shoots on older wisterias to the base of your strong shoots.

Expert David Hurrion demonstrates how to prune wisteria in the summer in this little video. He demonstrates which stems to cut and how much to remove precisely:

How to prune wisteria in winter

By pruning both in winter and in the summer, you can promote the growth of the short spurs that bear the spring blooms. Anytime between late October and March is the dormant season, so do this.

  • Connect fresh growth to the main structure to increase its support
  • Cut back the remaining long stems sharply.

David Hurrion demonstrates how to control robust, leafy growth so it doesn’t cover budding flower buds in this video on winter-pruning wisteria:

How to propagate wisteria

Few gardeners cultivate wisteria; most opt to purchase a plant instead because it can take up to 20 years for a wisteria to bloom from a cutting. However, take softwood cuttings in the middle of April if you’re up for a battle.

  • Young stems should be cut into lengths and trimmed to 10 cm, just below a leaf joint.
  • Leave roughly four leaves at the top of each cutting after removing the lower ones.
  • Fill pots with cutting compost, then fill them with water and let the water drain.
  • Cover the cuttings with a clear plastic bag after inserting them into the pots so the leaves don’t contact.
  • Make sure the cuttings are kept moist by keeping them in a well-lit area.
  • Remove the bag and pot after growth is visible.

Growing wisteria: problem solving

Lack of blossoms is the most frequent issue wisteria gardeners encounter. Expecting blooms before the plant is four years old may be impractical because wisterias take their time to bloom.

David Hurrion provides tips on where to plant your wisteria, how to prune it, and how to feed it to get the most blossoms here.

Will wisteria damage my foundations?

In the spring, a house covered in wisteria looks magnificent. Can the roots harm your foundations, though? In our Quick Tips video, Catherine Mansley from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine explains:

The ideal places for wisteria to grow.

According to Kirsten Coffen, a landscape architect and designer based in Maryland, “its gorgeous spring-blooming cascade of purple (or white) scented flowers is best observed when trained on a structure, such as a robust pergola.”

Such a lush, floral canopy offers delightful shade throughout the sweltering summer months. According to Irene Kalina-Jones, a landscape designer at Outside Space NYC (opens in new tab), “We plant it on rooftops in the city, training it to cover pergolas to create shade.” “But I enjoy it grown against buildings, too,” you say.

Wisteria grows best in full sun in a protected location, such as a south or west-facing facade. When planting, work in a lot of organic matter (such as compost) to ensure that the soil is rich and well-drained.

If you want to grow wisteria up a wall or the front of a house, put some effort into building a strong structure that it can climb over many years. A tensioning system of wires is possibly preferable to a wooden trellis because wood can rot. The wires must either automatically tighten as the plant gains weight or be simple for you to tighten (via turnbuckles, for instance).

How frequently should you water wisteria?

Like most young plants, wisteria need additional attention when it comes to watering. You must make sure your vine gets enough water until it is firmly established so it can survive dry spells. Put your finger into the ground at the plant’s base. Immediately moisten it if it feels dry to the touch. It should feel humid or moist but not drenched in the dirt.

The morning or the evening are the ideal times to water your wisteria. Although the temperature will be cooler and allow for greater moisture absorption by the plant, the sunlight will aid in drying the leaves. When you water in the heat of the day, a lot of the water evaporates before it ever gets to the roots of the plant, which is especially true in hot climates throughout the summer.

The root ball of your wisteria is still quite little, so water it near to the stem. Use a mild stream or “shower” setting on your hose connection to water, ensuring that the soil is completely moist all around the base of the plant.

Wet, dripping leaves are more susceptible to pests and disease, so you want to minimize this if possible. Concentrate on providing water to the root system, not so much on the foliage.

If you’re not getting any rain, you may need to water it every day or every 2-3 days, depending on the conditions where you live. At the absolute least, you should check the soil with your finger to see if it’s too dry. Water your new Wisteria periodically, especially during the first couple of months.

When does wisteria flower?

A twining, deciduous climbing plant with a long flowering season and fragrant blossoms is called wisteria. When in bloom, a wisteria is a wonderful sight with its long, trailing, fragrant blossoms in blue, purple, pink, or white. Wisteria is typically grown on a south-facing wall. Wisteria is a rewarding plant with lovely flowers that bloom between April and June, and occasionally again in August. While wisteria sinensis twines anticlockwise and is the more vigorous of the two, wisteria floribunda (which twines clockwise) originates originated from Japan. In W. senensis, flowers emerge before foliage, whereas in W. floribunda, flowers and foliage emerge simultaneously.

Wisteria requires a lot of room because it grows quickly, reaching heights of up to 9 meters (30 feet). It can’t stand on its own and needs a framework of wires or supports to develop. Prior to planting Wisteria, it is best to build the structure. Wisteria can survive in light shade as well as full sun, though it prefers the former. The drawback of growing wisteria is that it requires a lot of time and effort to flourish. It has the name “red wheelbarrow plant” on it.

Wisteria is a strong climber, so growing it is not difficult; the challenge is getting it to bloom. Correct pruning is a necessary step to get Wisteria to bloom. To guarantee that wisteria blooms consistently every year, it needs to be pruned twice a year (in the summer and the winter). Flowering depends on pruning. Ladders are required for pruning as the wisteria matures and climbs higher up the wall, increasing the amount of upkeep. Wisteria needs a lot of area because it grows quickly and can be clipped to control its size. Although it may seem obvious, wisteria is best planted in the proper location from the beginning. This is because once established, it is difficult to remove because it has very robust, woody roots.

Wisteria is one of the most beautiful climbing plants, but it’s also one of the most time-consuming and challenging to grow and bring to flower. Your Wisteria will bloom if you follow the Sunday Gardener’s tips and video instructions.

How does a wisteria look in the colder months?

Don’t panic if your wisteria begins to drop its leaves in the fall. Deciduous wisteria predominates. Winter doesn’t keep it green, but the leaves will come back in the spring.

Before dropping their leaves, some wisteria varieties put on a show of fall color as the leaves turn yellow or gold. If it’s happening in the fall, there’s typically nothing to worry about unless you’re also observing other symptoms like an insect infestation. Yellowing and dropping leaves can be signals of disease and other problems.

While Evergreen Wisteria (Millettia reticulata) is more challenging to grow, all true Wisteria are deciduous. Your Evergreen Wisteria will most likely maintain its leaves throughout the year if you have hot summers and brief, mild winters with little below freezing. This is zone 9b and higher in the US, which includes a portion of California and Arizona as well as the southern half of Florida and Texas.

Evergreen Wisteria is deciduous like regular Wisteria in more temperate regions, so you may anticipate it to go dormant for the winter and sprout new leaves in the spring. You probably won’t be able to cultivate Evergreen Wisteria in a location that is colder than USDA zone 8 because even deciduous habit cannot shield it from prolonged, bitterly cold winters.

Is a trellis necessary for wisteria?

Wisterias thrive in full light, fertile soil, and both. Of the 10 species, three are grown the most frequently: Wisteria brachybotrys, Wisteria sinensis, and Wisteria floribunda, which are native to China, Japan, and the eastern United States (silky wisteria). All three species have significant growth rates and can extend out to a maximum of 20 meters (66 feet) against a wall or around 10 meters (33 feet) in trees. Wisteria can also be trained to grow as a free-standing standard in a big container or border.

Wisterias for pergolas and arches

The Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) is best exhibited hanging down from a garden structure like a pergola or arch since it has the longest flower sprays (or racemes) of all the species. They entwine in a clockwise motion while simultaneously bearing blooms and leaves. Lilac blue blooms and racemes as long as 1.2 meters (4 feet) are produced by Wisteria floribunda f. multijuga AGM in the early summer.

Wisterias for walls

Wisteria sinensis, often known as Chinese wisteria, blooms in the springtime before the leaves do. For example, Wisteria sinensis ‘Amethyst’ AGM has violet blue blooms with a reddish flush produced in dense racemes to 30cm (1ft) long in late spring or early summer. They twine anticlockwise and the racemes are shorter so they are best presented against a wall.

Silky wisteria (Wisteria brachybotrys), which can be grown against walls or on pergolas, with downy leaves and small racemes of 10-15cm (4-6in). White flowers with center yellow markings, a strong perfume, and 10-15 cm tall sprays of wisteria brachybotrys f. albiflora ‘Shiro-kapitan’ AGM bloom in the spring and early summer.

If you want to cultivate a wisteria in a big container

It is best to choose Wisteria fructens ‘Amethyst Falls’ because of its compact habit and rich clusters of lilac-blue blooms.

Always choose a wisteria that has been developed from cuttings or by grafting when purchasing one because seed-raised wisterias flower less consistently and take longer to bloom. The graft union should be seen as a swelling close to the stem’s base. Unlike species, named cultivars are virtually always grafted. Purchase your wisteria in flower or go with a specific cultivar to avoid disappointment.

Wisterias are offered for sale as container-grown plants at garden centers and online, and you can use the RHS Find a Plant tool to locate particular cultivars.

Wisteria should ideally be planted between October and April. Wisterias grown in containers can be planted at any time of the year, but fall and winter are the easiest times to maintain. Give them healthy, well-drained soil to plant in.

Wisterias bloom best in full sun, so pick a wall or pergola that faces south or west. Although blossoming will be diminished, they will still grow in light shade.

Wisterias are robust climbers that can grow to a height and width of more than 10 meters (33 feet). You’ll need to give support in the form of wires, trellises, or outside buildings like pergolas or arches against a wall. Wisteria can also be grown up a support or taught up a tree to create a standard. A wisteria can be grown in a border or container by being trained into a standard, which reduces its vigor.

If you want to grow your wisteria in a container, you’ll need a sizable one that is at least 45 cm (18 in) in diameter and is filled with potting soil with a loam basis, like John Innes No. 3.

Feeding

Use Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone on your wisteria in the spring at the suggested rate listed on the packet. Additionally, apply sulphate of potash at a rate of 20g per sq m (1/2 oz per sq yard) on sandy soils (which have low potassium levels). Fertilizers for flowering shrubs or roses are another option.

Feed wisteria in containers using Miracle-Gro, Phostrogen, or another comparable flowering plant food. A different option is to add controlled-release fertilizer to the compost.

Although wisteria has a reputation for being challenging to prune, this is untrue. Once you’ve made it a habit to prune your wisteria twice a year, you should be rewarded with a pleasing flower show.

When you prune regularly, you reduce the excessive, whippy growth from July and August to five to six leaves, or roughly 30 cm (1ft). This increases the possibility of blossom buds budding and permits the wood to ripen. Then, in February, trim these shoots even more to two or three buds, or around 10 cm (4 in), to tidy up the plant before the growing season starts and make it possible to observe the new flowers.

When your juvenile wisteria has completely covered a wall or other garden structure, start the routine pruning to promote flowering.

Small gardens benefit greatly from the training of wisteria as a free-standing standard in a border or container.

Wisteria can be trained to ascend into a tiny tree’s canopy, however doing so could eventually harm the tree. Pruning will be challenging if the plant develops into a huge tree, and a dense leaf canopy will affect flowering.

Increase your wisteria stocks by layering in the summer, taking softwood cuttings in the spring to mid-summer, or taking hardwood cuttings in the winter since seed-raised wisteria can take up to 20 years to flower.

Wisteria is typically propagated via grafting in professional nurseries, however layering is the simplest and most dependable technique for home gardeners.

Established wisteria can produce hanging, bean-like seedpods after a lengthy summer. While wisteria plants grown from seeds are typically of inferior quality, you might want to try growing wisteria yourself.

  • After the leaves have fallen, gather the seedpods and let them ripen in an open tray.
  • When the seed is ready, twist open the pod and sow it 2 cm (3/4 in) deep in seed compost.
  • Before planting if the seed is dry, soak it for 24 hours.

See our commonly asked questions page for a summary of wisteria issues.

Poor flowering

Poor flowering is the most frequent issue for backyard gardeners, and it can be brought on by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Young plants can take up to 20 years to flower, so acquire a plant that is already in bloom or go with a certain cultivar because they are typically grafted to avoid disappointment.
  • Examine your pruning methods and timing because early and midsummer trimming will prevent the growth of flowers the next year.
  • Wisteria flowers best in broad light; deep shadow produces few, if any, flowers.
  • Water your wisteria during periods of drought from July to September because a lack of water during this time will influence the development of flower buds the next year.
  • Flower buds may drop before opening as a result of spring frosts, which can harm or deform growing flowers.
  • Applying sulphate of potash in the spring will encourage bloom production for the next year in soils that may lack potassium.
  • The damage caused by pigeons or mice can be identified by torn petals or distinctive teeth marks.

Other problems

A mature, seemingly robust wisteria will occasionally pass away and be replaced by a new, healthy branch emerging from the ground. Failure of the wisteria graft may be the reason of this.

Wisteria is sensitive to both of the fungi that cause phytophthora root rot and honey fungus, which are less frequent causes of failure.

Unusual brown blotches and marks on the leaves, typically with a yellow edge, may be a sign that a fungus has infected them. Viruses can also harm wisteria and powdery mildew.

Infestations of scale and, less frequently, wisteria scale can affect wisterias.

While we hope this information may be useful to you, we always advise reading the labels on your plants that provide care instructions.