How To Prune Wisteria Into A Tree

Prune out any dead, crowded, or crossed branches in the late winter while your wisteria tree is still dormant. Trim any side shoots in the tree’s canopy down to a length of 12 inches just after flowering. As you inspect the ties one more time, untie any that have grown too tight around the trunk. Hope the information is useful.

Is wisteria a type of tree?

Wisteria is a flowering deciduous vine, not a tree. The family of legumes actually includes this woody, twining climber. Wisteria, on the other hand, can be coaxed to grow in such a way that it resembles a tree.

Unlike “Wisteria does not normally produce a trunk or a canopy of branches and leaves like real trees do. Anything that this vine can grab, it will climb. Additionally, Wisteria continues to develop, unlike trees. Ever. There isn’t “the mature height at which it will stop growing.

Wisteria will require ongoing maintenance to keep its aggressive growth under control. Even though wisteria resembles a tree, it is still a vine, thus maintaining it will take regular effort and commitment.

How should a wisteria tree be pruned?

A wisteria that has been let to grow out of control can frequently produce a tangle of dead, malformed branches that may or may not flower. It could take up to a year of trimming and pruning to transform a wisteria into a blossoming vine that is manageable in size. The steps are as follows:

  • Cut back withering and dead branches to the nearest sound tree.
  • Reduce suckers at the base so that only one or two primary stems remain.
  • Eliminate overgrown lateral branches that sprout from the main trunk.
  • After flowering, trim the remaining lateral branches.
  • If the vine is excessively long, trim the top of the main trunk to 4-6 feet, or the desired length.

Once your wisteria has recovered its shape, continue to prune it twice a year to maintain the desired size. You can prevent your wisteria from growing out of control and get the most blossoms each spring by regularly cutting it.

Wisteria is it a tree or a vine?

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.

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.

How can I make my wisteria trunk thicker?

You may quickly grow your trunk gnarly by taking cuttings, allowing them to take root, planting them back up against your main trunk, weaving and wrapping them around your trunk to fuse and thicken much more quickly. When photographing mature wisteria, you will frequently notice numerous intertwined and twisted vines that eventually grow into a single, thick, and fascinating trunk naturally. Five vines were clustered together at the base of the one I bought last year (a native species to America). I gently twisted and woven them together as tightly as I could. With a few gaps here and there, they’ll thicken up beautifully over time. You can see some lovely instances of how this might appear if you search the internet for “ancient wistera.” Additionally, you’ll get some seriously fantastic twisted trunks.

Alternately, letting your vines grow out will assist thicken your trunk if you like a smoother single trunk line for a more beautiful and less gnarly look. You can always prune it back later, re-grow the vines, and have more plants available for use or exchange.

Here are a couple non-bonsai trunk specimens on big, old wisteria. You may be inspired by them!

How large can wisteria trees grow?

Your final decision when evaluating several wisteria varieties will probably come down to availability and beauty. The Japanese and Chinese wisteria are the most popular varieties you may grow in your yard in the US.

Both feature spectacular bloom clusters, potent perfumes, and a variety of cultivar and color possibilities, which is why gardeners prefer them. Here are additional information about the two types as well as additional species and varieties of wisteria vines.

Japanese Wisteria

This variety, also known as Wisteria floribunda, is capable of producing large flower clusters or conical racemes that can grow up to three feet long. They come in a variety of hues, including deep purple, white, lavender, and blue.

The Japanese wisteria can suffuse your yard with pleasant scents because it is a deciduous vine. It can also give your yard a few soft hues. This plant can also reach heights of between 10 and 30 feet and thrive when grown in full sun with moderately wet soil.

Additionally, it can thrive more successfully in USDA zones 4 to 9. In its tree form, Wisteria floribunda also features green leaves with traces of scarlet. When fall arrives, this has the potential to turn a beautiful yellow.

Additionally, Wisteria floribunda bears racemes with blooms in a range of colors, including purple, red-violet, rose-pink, and white. There are especially magnificent varieties with double blossoms that have powerful yet pleasant scents.

The silvery-gray vines of this wisteria floribunda are particularly easily recognized because in addition to being twisted, they also turn in a clockwise direction. It differs from Chinese wisteria because of this.

Chinese Wisteria

The Wisteria Sinensis botanical name for the Chinese wisteria tree is also well-known. This robust and sturdy climbing perennial is Chinese in origin, as the name suggests. The plant is distinguished by its fragrant, vivid blooms that appear in the spring and summer.

It produces cascading clusters of violet, pink, white, and bluish-purple blooms. They will likely begin to bloom in the early spring and will show up before the leaves. When the plant is in full bloom, the blossoms can reach a length of twelve inches and can almost completely obscure the plant’s silver-gray stalks.

When it comes to its foliage, you’ll see that it resembles copper or bronze leaflets that eventually become green in the summer. Each leaf is oval and elongated, and it has the potential to produce 7–13 leaflets.

It can grow absolutely well in the full sun and reach lengths of between 10 and 25 feet. In soil with medium moisture and moderate fertility, it will also thrive. Expect it to be drought-tolerant as well because it is robust enough.

American Wisteria

This species, which is native to the US and goes by the alternate name Wisteria frutescens, is predicted to do exceptionally well in a number of locations outside of California. The Southeastern regions from Texas to Florida are among them.

The American wisteria is a robust, thin climber that can wind counterclockwise and bear huge racemes of fragrant, eye-catching white or purple blossoms. It features hanging conical clusters with a maximum growth length of 6 inches. Once the foliage appears, it typically blooms from April through May.

The American Wisteria may thrive in USDA zones 5 through 9. Whether you expose it to partial shade or full sun, it is drought-tolerant and has tall, climbing stems that can grow as high as 15 to 40 feet. However, keep in mind that to get the most stunning flowers from this plant, you must always nurture it in moist soil and direct sunlight.

The American variety is less aggressive than the varieties from China and Japan. It is equally as lovely as the aforementioned species, but because it grows more slowly, it won’t take over your garden.

The distinctive pods of the native American wisteria, which are smooth and bean-like, are another way to identify the plant. Such pods are either velvety or fuzzy in the case of the Japanese and Chinese wisteria.