What Kind Of Soil Do Wisteria Like

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.

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You can keep your wisteria vines looking excellent by following these growing guidelines.

Where space permits and gardeners are dedicated to keeping them in check, wisteria are tenacious, twining vines that are used widely in landscapes. They possess endurance, vitality, longevity, and the capacity to scale great heights. They are highly prized for their springtime huge, pendulous flower clusters. Pea-like flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, lilac blue, bluish purple, and purple. The fruit, a long, flattened, green pod, is not particularly attractive. The plant has alternate, pinnately complex leaves and climbs on twining stems. An inch-plus-diameter twisted, woody trunk is not uncommon in older, more established plants.

Wisteria needs full sun (six or more hours of direct sunlight per day) and a deep, somewhat fertile, moist soil that does not dry out too much in order to blossom successfully. Although they can adapt to most soil types, they perform best in neutral to slightly acidic soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Since mature plants can be fairly heavy, some sort of support will be required.

Plant establishment will be ensured by thorough site preparation. To find out whether the soil’s pH or phosphorus level has to be corrected, perform a soil test first. If so, as you are preparing the soil, add more components. In an area that is two to three feet in diameter and 18 to 24 inches deep, prepare the soil. To enhance soil aeration and drainage, mix one-third by volume of peat moss, compost, or well-rotted manure into the native soil.

On wires, trellises, arbors, and pergolas, wisterias grow best. If the right supports are present, such as rows of wire anchored four to six inches from the wall, they can be grown on solid, vertical surfaces. Use strong, long-lasting materials like wood, tubing, or galvanized wire. Since they don’t rust, copper or aluminum wire or tubing is chosen over other metals. For pergolas and arbors, pressure-treated wood should be used. However, avoid planting wisteria where the stems can encroach on building gutters and obstruct them. Wisteria can also be cultivated as a tree-form or a single trunk standard. The plant needs to be staked upright in order to do this. Its top is severed when it reaches a height of four to five feet. On the top of the stem, side branches are allowed to grow, but the lower stem is regularly pruned. Each winter, side branches are clipped to a length of six to eight inches until the top reaches the appropriate size. Future pruning is removing secondary branches that form immediately after the first or second leaf and trimming summer shoots as soon as they reach their sixth or seventh leaf. These secondary shoots are pruned back in the winter to just an inch from their base. The use of living trees as support is common, but it must be done cautiously. By girdling the stem of the twining wisteria, trees with a diameter of less than ten inches can be quickly killed. Damage to larger trees is also possible. To prevent girdling, trees that are used should be monitored periodically. The previous girdling stem must be physically removed from the tree to prevent further damage if a tree is being girdled; however, the wisteria can be cut back to the soil line and allowed to grow again.

The vine can be planted once the soil has been prepared and the support structure is in place. Put the plant’s root ball in the hole so that it doesn’t go any deeper than where it grew in the nursery. Set your grafted wisteria so the graft union is just below the soil’s surface if it is. The prepared soil mixture should be poured into the hole and compacted around the root ball. After planting, thoroughly wet the area. An inch of water per week, provided either through irrigation or rainfall, is needed for new plants. Young plants should receive annual fertilization until they occupy the designated space. Young vines won’t likely bloom because vegetative growth is being promoted. If the branch and foliage development and color are healthy and the plant has filled the designated space, do not fertilize. Only water if the foliage starts to wilt, which could happen during a drought. Both of these methods reduce floral production while promoting vegetative growth.

To maintain plant quality, some annual pruning is necessary; it is not recommended to let the vine grow haphazardly and take over neighboring plants and buildings. Pruning will encourage flowering and help the vine become less vigorous.

Choose a strong, upright stem to act as the primary leader and attach it to the support to train plants on a wire trellis or an arbor. other side sprouts, remove them. As the primary leader expands, it will form side branches that will later generate additional shoots and flower buds. To create a framework that fits the designated space, keep training the main leader upward and the new side branches as necessary (allow about 18 inches between side branches). When the main leader reaches the desired height, pinch it off.

The ideal compost for wisteria is…

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.