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.
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.
- 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.
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).
Where does wisteria grow best?
Wisteria vines can withstand a wide range of environmental factors, but the majority of types struggle in zones below USDA 4 to 5. Wisteria plants in Zone 3 were a bit of a pipe dream because these beloved plants of temperate climates often died during the cold, prolonged winters. Zones 3 to 9 are favorable for Kentucky wisteria, a chance hybrid that can be found in the swampy regions of south central United States from Louisiana and Texas north to Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma. In the cooler location, it even consistently produces flowers.
Japanese and Chinese wisteria are the two varieties grown most frequently. Chinese wisteria is appropriate down to zone 5, whereas Japanese wisteria is a little more hardy and thrives in zone 4. The Kentucky wisteria is descended from the American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens.
The plants naturally grow in highland thickets, riverbanks, and marshy woodlands. While Kentucky wisteria may flourish as low as zone 3, American wisteria is hardy only to zone 5. Wisteria can be grown well in zone 3 thanks to a number of novel cultivars that have been released. Compared to its Asian counterparts, Kentucky wisteria is less pushy and more well-mannered. Even after severe winters, it regularly blooms in the spring with slightly smaller flowers.
In USDA zone 3, Wisteria macrostachya, another plant, has also demonstrated its dependability. It is marketed under the name “Summer Cascade.”
The best wisteria vines for zone 3 are Kentucky wisteria plants. Even a few cultivars are available for selection.
A Minnesotan cultivar named “Blue Moon” sports tiny, fragrant clusters of periwinkle blue flowers. In June, vines can reach lengths of 15 to 25 feet and bear racemes of fragrant, pea-like blooms that are 6 to 12 inches long. These zone 3 wisteria bushes then develop 4–5 inch long, velvety, soft pods. The plant’s delicate, pinnate, dark green leaves on twining stalks only add to its allure.
The aforementioned “Summer Cascade” has racemes of delicate lavender blooms that are 10 to 12 inches long. Other varieties include “Clara Mack,” which has white blooms, and “Aunt Dee,” which has lovely antique lilac flowers.
Can wisteria be grown in the US?
It makes sense to use native plants in the garden. This is so because local plants are better suited to the area and require less specific maintenance. If they do manage to escape domestication, they won’t harm the wild flora either. One such native plant is American wisteria. American wisteria – what is it? It is a sociable neighborhood vine with charming blue flowers that can fit perfectly in your garden.
The southeastern states are home to American wisteria. It mostly grows in damp bottomlands, including swamps, near rivers, and in flood plains. It may grow as a cultivated plant in USDA zones 5 to 9.
The deciduous vine can reach a height of 30 feet (9 m.). The beautiful pinnate leaves on this rambling beauty are separated into 9 to 15 leaflets. The attractive dangling clusters of pea-like blooms, which are occasionally creamy white but more often blue or violet, dangle from the stems. Compared to the Chinese variety, it is a more regulated plant with velvety pods that offer seasonal interest.
Where are wisteria vines found?
The Wallflowers are vanished.
- Wallflower at Pigswick Academy
- Wallflower of Pegasus Place.
- Wallflower on Tanglewood Way.
- Wallflower Library Archives
Is it dangerous to touch wisteria?
Wisteria Wisteria has a seductive charm, but did you know that it is only mildly harmful to cats and dogs? Its seeds, in particular, are harmful in every way.
Are dogs poisonous to wisteria?
Because wisteria doesn’t have a bad taste, dogs may eat deadly amounts of it.
Wisterias are absolutely gorgeous, with cascades of flowing purple blossoms. However, their leaves and blooms can also be dangerous in excessive numbers, and their seeds (and seed pods) are extremely poisonous to dogs.
Even worse, the results take time to manifest. Wisteria also doesn’t taste unpleasant, making it simple for dogs to consume excessive amounts before you realize there is a problem.
Wisteria can endure the winter.
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. However, even deciduous behavior can’t protect Evergreen Wisteria from long, freezing winters, so if your climate is colder than USDA zone 8, you probably won’t be able to grow it.
Wisteria is resistant to freezing.
Although wisteria is usually resistant to frost, it can nonetheless suffer harm from it to bloom buds and newly budding flowers. When the vine emerges from dormancy and is about to blossom, this can become a concern during late spring frosts.
Wisteria is a cold-tolerant plant that can endure frost, snow, and even extremely low temperatures in some cultivars. Wisteria, on the other hand, emerges from its latent state after the winter and starts to bloom and grow new leaves. It can be extremely harmful to the plant if a sudden cold snap causes temperatures to drop too low.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to plant your wisteria close to some wind protection, like a brick or block wall that retains heat during the day and releases it at night. To get the most sunshine, plant wisteria in a location that faces west or south.
In the first year or two of growth, your wisteria is more susceptible to frost and cold damage. Young plants might not be able to withstand these subfreezing temperatures because they are too delicate. New growth might be vulnerable to frost damage even on established plants.
If you prune your wisteria too late in the growing season, this could happen. As fresh, vulnerable vines and tendrils may develop and not have enough time to harden off before temps fall below freezing, pruning might stimulate new growth at the wrong moment. By avoiding pruning Wisteria plants at any time in the late summer or fall, you can prevent this issue.
Use plastic tubing, bubble wrap, or fabric such as burlap to shield your wisteria from late spring frosts or chilly winds. Plastic tubing is a wonderful alternative because it can be wrapped around the plant’s main vine without the need to attempt to cover a large trellis.
An additional choice is to stake the vine and hang a drop cloth or other fabric over it, covering the entire plant. Just keep in mind to take the cloth off as it warms up over the day. Before a frost, covering your plant will help protect its buds, prevent growth from being stunted, and prevent damage to the roots and vine.
Does Florida have wisteria?
In the lush gardens of the Southeast of the United States, wisteria has grown to be rather iconic. Since the flowers bloom in fragrant clusters of light purple to white along roadside and up the sides of houses in the spring, it is simple to find. However, wisteria doesn’t always look as it does.
: Wisteria is in the pea/bean family.
About five to seven species of woody, deciduous vines belonging to the Fabaceae (pea/bean) family make up the genus Wisteria. The third-largest family of flowering plants, Fabaceae contains over 19,500 species.
: Many wisteria plants you see are invasive in Florida.
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), two Asian species that were brought to American horticulture in the early 19th century and are now considered invasive, have escaped into natural areas. The most popular variety of wisteria grown in Florida and other Southeastern states is Chinese wisteria, while Japanese wisteria is also present.
Many of the invasive plants resemble Wisteriaformosa, a hybrid of Chinese and Japanese wisteria.
Chinese and Japanese wisteria are both invasive and not advised in any part of Florida, according to the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas.
: There is a native species of wisteria.
A Florida-friendly substitute is American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). Individual blooms on stalks less than 1 cm tall, shorter (5–10 cm long), denser flower clusters, and hairless pods are characteristics of American wisteria.
In contrast, Chinese and Japanese wisteria often have pods that are densely hairy, individual blooms that are carried on stalks 1.5 to 2 cm tall, and longer flower clusters (up to 50 cm long). While Japanese and American wisteria bloom from April to June in northern Florida, Chinese wisteria often blooms in late March to early April (before the leaves have fully opened).
: American wisteria is a host plant to native butterflies and moths.
Native plants promote regional biodiversity, which is another justification for picking American wisteria. Wisteria frutescens serves as a host plant for several species of butterflies and moths, including:
- Skipper with a long tail (Urbanus proteus)
- Skipper with a silver spot (Epargyreus clarus)
- navy blue (Leptotes marina)
- Dusky zarucco wing (Erynnis zarucco)
- Moth Cuphodes wisteriae
- Moth Io (Automeris io)
- enduring bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis)
- Canine borer moth (Synanthedon scitula)
- Moth of Limacodid (Acharia stimulea)
- a licorice twig borer moth (Ecdytolopha insiticiana)
- The duskywing of Horace (Erynnis horatius)
- Monarch moth (Hyalophora cecropia)
- Sphinx moth with blinders (Paonias excaecatus)
- Black-and-white tussock moth (Orgya leucostigma)
- Autumn webworm (Hyphantria cunea)
: Wisteria is a toxic plant.
Although wisteria blooms can be eaten in moderation, the rest of the plant is thought to be poisonous to both people and animals and contains a number of chemicals that can seriously upset the stomach. The seeds and pods contain the highest concentration of poisons.
This serves as a reminder that you should *never* eat a plant unless you are confident of its identify and that it is safe to eat.
Large flower clusters are found on longer stems on Chinese wisteria, or Wisteria sinensis.
Florida is home to an invasive species called Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), which blooms from April to June.
An acceptable substitute for the invasive species of wisteria in Florida is American wisteria.
Flowers on the Chinese and Japanese wisteria range in color from purple to white to pink.