How To Train Wisteria On A Trellis

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 produce its flowers. Trim back every new shoot from this year to a spur, leaving no more than 6 inches of growth. So that there are no loose, trailing shoots, the entire plant can be trained, tied in, and otherwise organized during this process.
  • 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, severely prune the vine. Then, the following 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 is wisteria trained to grow higher?

Although wisteria is excellent for covering an arbor or pergola, it is easier to manage if the vines are trained. But keep in mind that different varieties of wisteria vines may have distinct twining traits. For instance, the Japanese variety of wisteria (W. floribunda) twines clockwise while the Chinese variant (W. sinensis) twined counterclockwise.

Select an erect stem and affix it to the specified support while training wisteria vines. As you continue to train the main vine upward, remove any side shoots. By affixing them where desired, new side branches can be trained as needed to fill in gaps in the support framework. Keep these side branches at a distance of about 18 inches (45.5 cm) apart for optimal results. Pinch off or remove the main vine tip of the wisteria once it has grown to the correct height to prevent further development.

Even trained wisteria vines need frequent pruning to prevent them from quickly encroaching on everything in their path. It’s crucial to understand when and how to prune wisteria. Although wisteria benefits from regular trimming of new shoots throughout its growing season, considerable pruning is also necessary in late fall or winter to keep the vine manageable. Cut back the side branches to about a foot (0.5 m) from the main trunk and remove any dead wood or crowded branches. Eliminate any suckers from its base as well.

How can a wisteria be taught to scale a wall?

The stem of Chinese wisteria resembles a tree trunk when it is fully grown. Only a sturdy foundation can support the weight. The sturdy vine topples frail supports. It takes a solidly grounded structure to cover a wall. Use 6- to 8-inch heavy-duty brackets and galvanized wire to make horizontal supports every 12 inches in order to espalier wisteria against a wall. Either straight to the wall or to a sturdy wooden frame, fasten everything. The hefty vine may eventually bring down eaves, therefore stop at least three feet away from structure rooflines.

What cultivates wisteria the best?

Wisterias should be trained as an espalier with horizontal support wires (3mm galvanized steel) spaced 45cm (18″) apart for best results when growing them against a wall. As an alternative, you may train them to climb a strong pergola or perhaps a tree. It is best to attach supports before planting because it will be much more difficult to do so after the wisteria has been planted.

Plant your wisteria in the spring or fall. To increase the soil’s fertility and drainage before to planting, add a lot of well-rotted manure or garden compost to the area. Because you’ll be sharing your home with the plant for a very long time, it’s critical to take the time to establish perfect soil conditions for your wisteria from the very beginning.

Use the depth at which it was planted in the pot as a guide for planting your wisteria outside. If you’re planting a bare-root wisteria, check the base of the stem for a soil mark that shows the depth at which the plant was inserted into the ground at the nursery. This is typically located just below the graft point, which is a bulge in the stem where the rootstock and main plant are joined.

How do I construct a wisteria support?

For growing this most magnificent of horticultural spectacles, Alan Titchmarsh offers tips.

There are several benefits to spring arriving slowly. After a bitterly cold, rainy, and snowy winter, when army-blanket skies were the norm week after week and month after month, it is disheartening to have to wait so long for flowery joys.

Late springs, on the other hand, lessen the possibility of early development, which can frequently be severely scorched by late frosts. Due to unanticipated freezing conditions at the end of the month, a friend’s wisteria, which had put on a stunning annual display for fifty years, was dripping with depressing, grey flower trails in April last year.

Given that the buds didn’t even begin to open until the middle of April, they had high expectations for the kind of show that has become synonymous with their home this year.

How much I adore wisteria! When we got married, it graced the front wall of our humble three-up, three-down terrace house. I trained it with pride so that, during the six years we lived there, its territory grew year after year.

It was the common Chinese wisteria (W. sinensis), which for a long time was the only kind to grow in our gardens. Numerous cultivars with weird names and, in certain cases, strange colors and flower forms are available today, the majority of which are of Japanese origin.

At the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan, a wisteria tunnel is in full bloom.

If you’re planting a new one, make sure you like the color and blossom shape before purchasing a grafted plant because it will bloom more consistently and much earlier. A few inches above soil level, the graft union will be readily evident. There are strategies to induce blooming in older reticent plants, including those that weren’t grafted and were reproduced by layering or cuttings.

You need a sunny wall for wisteria. Giving it a wall with a north or east facing side is a waste of time. The most favored directions, where the wood will ripen most efficiently, are south and west. The pruning process itself is done twice a year. All questing growths that are required to increase the plant’s coverage should be tied in by July; all others should be cut back to around 1 foot. All sideshoots should be pruned to finger length in January. If you repeat this each year, your plant shouldn’t let you down.

Gorgeous Lodge House in Smeeth, Kent, close to Ashford, has a Georgian front covered in thick wisteria.

Wisteria is a twiner and doesn’t have sticky pads like Virginia creeper or aerial roots like ivy, so your wall will need some sort of support system. The least noticeable support is provided by strong horizontal wires attached to strong vine eyes screwed into the wall at intervals of 18in.

The likelihood of this happening can be reduced by regularly untangling the stems during winter trimming. A well-attached trellis can be used, but the snaking branches can get behind it and, as they fatten over the years, they can rip it from the wall.

Every March, you may encourage regular bloom and strong development by giving your wisteria a liberal serving of rose fertilizer, which is rich in potassium and magnesium, which assist flowers open up. If your wisteria has been pruned, nourished, and grown on a sunny wall for three or four years and still won’t bloom, consider it a failure, yank it out, and plant a grafted type that will catch up to it.

The wisteria-covered entrance to Dunsborough Park in Ripley, Surrey, is like the doorway to paradise.

The ancient standby Macrobotrys, which has flower trails that may reach a maximum length of two feet, is my personal favorite of the several types that are offered. The elegant white variety are just as striking as the lavender purple ones in the correct circumstances.

The plain W. sinensis, whose flower trails emit the most scrumptious aroma in spring sunshine, is a plant I would never avoid, especially if it were planted near a bedroom window that could be opened to let in the intoxicating scent.

Being so demanding with food and water, wisteria plants are difficult to grow successfully in pots and other containers. You can grow wisteria as a free-standing “standard” on a 5 foot bare stem if you don’t have access to a suitable home wall. It will require some support, but when I was a student at Kew Gardens, I recall enormous free-standing specimens there that were already well over a century old. They scuttled around a rusting iron structure that they had all but destroyed like boa constrictors.

To enjoy the pleasures of late spring and early summer in the company of one of the most stunning members of the plant world, all we need right now is the kind of sunny weather that was lacking earlier in the year.

How is wisteria trained to become the norm?

Wisteria should be trained as an espalier with horizontal support wires (3mm galvanized steel) spaced 30 cm (1 ft) apart for the best results when grown against a wall. Plants will develop a robust spur system with time and twice-yearly trimming.

How can wisteria be kept in check?

Pruning wisteria twice a year is the best approach to prevent it from growing out of control. After the flowers have faded in the early to mid-summer and when the shoots from this year’s growth begin to look untidy, the first pruning should be done. The goal is to remove undesired shoots or suckers and to keep new development close to the main vine as follows:

  • Trim fresh growth shoots to a length of 6 inches.
  • Suckers at the roots should be removed.
  • Cut off any sprouts that the vine’s main support structure doesn’t require.

Since flowers only appear on one-year-old growth, this pruning strategy not only keeps the vine in a tight shape but also enables the blooms to be seen the following year.

Can wisteria be trained to grow up a tree?

Gurney’s resident horticulturist, Felix, demonstrates how to cultivate wisteria vines into a tree shape. Find out how to support and train the vines correctly to build a sturdy foundation for a beautiful tree design.

Felix from Gurney’s is here, and I’m standing next to a wisteria tree. All wisteria varieties can be trained to grow into trees, and when you buy them, the majority of tree varieties are already trained to grow into longer chutes with branches at the top. So, typically, they measure between three and three and a half feet. You’ll obtain something that is tall, trained on a piece of bamboo to a single cane, and then has a branching top to it. However, it’s crucial to train these canes early on so that they mature to the point where they can support themselves. What we have here is a younger form of that. If you have a stake into it, such as a piece of conduit or larger bamboo, you can train these canes along. I think we should give this one, maybe two or three more years, and then we can take this T post out and our trellising are mounting mechanism off, and this is just an indication. We’ve actually trained two of them intertwining two varieties, so we can get two colors here on one tree form, and when this matures it’ll be kind of nice, because these two canes here, these two vine portions, your vines, not canes, excuse me, but they’re intert When you train these into a tree form and remove the support, they look beautiful, as I’ll soon demonstrate to you here. In the meantime, let’s go look at an older specimen. We walked over and are now in our research garden. We moved this specimen across, and as you can see, we have a pretty excellent trunk and only an older initial thing that began off being around pencil thickness. This specimen has been in this location for just over ten years. And that’s what you get when you get them in the mail: a pencil that was sent to you already sharpened, which is what we have in front of us. You can see that these came out and make a really wonderful framework here for this tree wisteria at about 18 inches or maybe 24 inches off the ground where we actually let it branch. Although they are twisting and incredibly beautiful, they do require some annual pruning. The buds are gorgeously swelling, as you can see. This wisteria tree is going to put on a really nice show this year, and it just adds some real beauty to the landscape. If you have a tree-type wisteria, you can really impress people with it when you know that it has only been trained and grown for a few years, giving you a nice strong trunk on your to support your vine, everyone. So, a month has passed since the last video segment on this wisteria. You can clearly see how stunning it is when in full bloom. The students simply adore running in to the base here and standing underneath this wisteria tree when we have school tours here at the research facility. Just keep in mind that when you acquire your wisteria vine, you may train it just into this true shape. You may shape that vine into a tree trunk using merely a piece of conduit or something similar, let it grow, and finally remove the training device to create a stunning wisteria tree in your yard. We appreciate having you with us at Gurney’s.