The best seasons to plant wisteria are spring or fall, and you should put it in full sunlight to ensure that you get to view its lovely blossoms. A wet, well-draining soil is ideal for wisteria.
Where should a wisteria plant be planted?
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.
What variety of wisteria should I buy?
As long as you give the vine something to climb on, you could use nearly any variety of wisteria to successfully cover a wall in your house. However, a cultivar with shorter racemes—the term for the flower bunches—rather than extremely long, dangling blossoms would have the nicest appearance.
The finest option for a house’s walls is Wisteria sinensis. Usually, their racemes are no larger than 12 inches. The cultivar “Jako” features lovely, fragrant white flowers. Choose ‘Prolific,’ which will continue to bloom throughout the summer, if you want the classic purple blossoms.
However, it’s always a good idea to weigh native against invasive types while picking Wisteria for your home. Because wisteria is such an aggressive and invasive vine, some places don’t allow certain varieties.
When may wisteria be purchased?
Start by purchasing a Wisteria plant in the spring that is in bloom or has flower buds on it if you want your Wisteria to bloom. Thus, you are assured that it can bloom. A small, just planted wisteria with a few tiny flowers is depicted on the left. The wisteria depicted in the video above, “Wonderful Wisteria,” was first planted in 2007 and reached a height of 3.5 meters, or about 12 feet, within 7 years. By 2018, it had completely covered the wall space at the back of the house. This is evidence of the wisteria’s vitality and the requirement for longer (and longer) ladders to prune it. It’s difficult to believe that this small plant expanded to cover an entire house wall in just ten years.
The best way to buy wisteria is as a grafted plant. Any plant grown from seed is likely to cause issues for you; while it may be less expensive, it may take a very long time to flower, possibly longer than ten years. A protrusion in the stem just above soil level in the plant pot identifies a grafted plant. The base of the Wisteria and the graft bulge can be seen if you watch the video on summer pruning Wisteria at roughly 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
Make sure to thoroughly water a fresh Wisteria plant and watch out that it doesn’t dry out in the beginning. When it’s established, it will take care of itself. I neglected to water the wisteria even throughout the 2018 drought, and it survived. Wisteria is completely hardy, however a protected area is preferred because cold can harm the racemes, or emerging flowers, (see below). Wisteria requires a lot of area and time to flourish and is simple to establish. If space is at a premium, Wisteria can be planted as a standard, which will require careful pruning, or choose a smaller variety like Domino’s or Wisteria brachybotrys.
Wisteria can be grown in a container, although the results will vary. A friend recently asked me for guidance on how to nurture a wisteria in a container after the plant failed to blossom. It bloomed magnificently the next spring after I advised taking it out of the container and replanting it in a bright location. Given the challenges in getting Wisteria to bloom, growing it in a container increases the challenge.
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.
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.
The wisteria’s rate of growth
Nothing compares to the splendor of a wisteria arbor in full bloom, but sadly, many Midwestern gardeners are unable to grow these exquisite vines.
Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and Chinese wisteria are the two varieties of wisteria that are most frequently planted in our region ( Wisteria sinensis).
Japanese wisteria is famous for its fragrant violet blooms, which are produced in clusters that range in length from 8 to 20 inches. A cluster’s individual blooms open one at a time, starting at the base.
Chinese wisteria often has clusters that are less than 12 inches long, with slightly larger individual blooms. A cluster of flowers also has a tendency to open at the same time. Chinese wisteria is less fragrant and less resilient than Japanese wisteria. Both species have cultivars that feature white blooms.
Wisteria is an aggressive twining vine that can become highly invasive in some places. Strong support is necessary for the vines to maintain their rapid growth. When wisteria is established in the right setting, it can grow up to 10 feet each year. It functions best in neutral to slightly alkaline, deep, moist, but well-drained soils.
Since the majority of gardeners are attracted to this plant for its flowers, they are very irritated by its infamous propensity to just grow greenery. This irritating issue may be caused by a variety of factors, including the plant’s immaturity, an excess of nitrogen, a deficiency in phosphorus, poor-quality plants, and an excessive amount of shadow.
Before they can start to produce flowers, Asian wisterias need to attain a certain level of maturity. In actuality, it may take the vines up to 15 years or more to bloom.
Those who have had success with wisteria frequently advise root trimming, using superphosphate, severe shoot clipping, and planting in full light. Most importantly, you should begin with high-quality plants that were grown from cuttings of plants that are known to bloom when they are still quite young. Take cuttings of the stem tips in July if you know someone who is prepared to part with a beautiful specimen. Avoid planting seedling vines since it is impossible to predict their flowering habits due to the genetic diversity of seed reproduction.
Wait until late spring or early summer to prune these vines since they develop their blossoms on last year’s wood in mid- to late May. To keep the plant manageable and regenerative, severe pruning back to three or four buds is frequently advised.
A few native species of wisteria are a little more “tame” than their Asian counterparts. These indigenous species attain flowering age earlier than Asian species because they bloom on the growth of the current season. Although they bloom slightly later in the spring, they can rebloom throughout the summer.
The 20–30 foot tall American wisteria (W. frutescens) blooms its flowers in 4-6 inch long, compact clusters. The most popular cultivar, “Amethyst Falls,” has fragrant lavender-blue blooms. Although ‘Nivea’ has longer clusters of white blossoms, it is less aromatic.
Wisteria macrostachys, which grows in Kentucky, produces flower clusters that are 8 to 12 inches long and densely covered with blossoms. Some people believe this to be an American wisteria subspecies. The hardy Minnesota cultivar “Blue Moon” has incredibly fragrant blossoms that start to develop in June and continue throughout the summer. Both ‘Aunt Dee’ and ‘Clara Mack’ have blooms that are a light lavender color.