Wisteria is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, that includes ten species of woody twining vines that are native to China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Southern Canada, the Eastern United States, and north of Iran.
Wisteria is a long-lived vining plant with cascades of blue to purple flowers that look spectacular hanging from a pergola or archway in spring and early summer. Wisteria is prized for its lovely flowering performance. As the climbing branches elongate, the vine gets heavy and creates a romantic, weeping effect. All parts of the wisteria plant are considered toxic, especially the pods and seeds.
Table of Contents
10 to 30 feet
6.0 - 7.0
Types of Wisteria
There are two types of Wisteria: Asian and American. Asian wisterias are popular due to their impressive flowers, but are aggressive growers. American wisterias are tamer and still have gorgeous flowers.
Varieties of Wisteria
Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria senensis): The fragrant panicles of Chinese wisteria resemble grapes. Yet, as much of the country has come to realize, wisteria — like kudzu, honeysuckle and other flowering beauties — can be an utter nightmare. The vine has been described as invasive in at least 19 states from the Illinois to Texas, so plant with extreme care.
Wisteria sinensis is a rapid growing deciduous climber hardy to zone 5. Chinese wisteria is an aggressive plant that can potentially take over an area of the garden. So consider yourself warned: Chinese wisteria can be maintained, but will require at least a monthly pruning to control the growth.
Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda): Capable of growing to a height of 35 feet, the woody vine Japanese wisteria has been found to be invasive from mid-Atlantic to southeastern states. Japanese wisteria can girdle and kill trees and choke out the light in a forest setting. Both the Chinese and Japanese species are extremely invasive, smothering and choking out every plant in their path, yanking down trees and creating dense thickets if left unchecked.
No doubt, these spectacular vines are coveted for their breathtakingly fragrant, pendulous blossoms in lavender, pink and white. But gardeners seeking to add one of these gorgeous vines to that newly built arbor or pergola first need to consider the bigger environmental picture — not just their own little backyard snapshot.
American Wisteria (Wisteria flutescens): Nothing says the South quite like a front porch shrouded in a springtime veil of lavender drooping wisteria. The sugary scent of this perennial vine's flower heralds the start of a much-anticipated gardening season.
A far less invasive alternative to the Asian wisterias that is easier to control: American wisteria, Wisteria flutescens is a woody, deciduous climber native to low-lying areas of the southeastern United States. While still an aggressive plant, American wisteria grows only two-thirds as tall as its Asian cousins, and its racemes — or pendulous blossoms — are half as long, rounded and more compact — resembling bunches of grapes. And although for the most part its flowers don't emit the wonderfully sweet fragrance of the Asian species, this species is a repeat bloomer and — best of all — is valued for its manageability.
Planting the wisteria tree typically involves digging a hole with a similar depth to its root ball. The hole also has to be two times the root ball’s diameter. Put the plant there, making sure that you set it straight.
After that, start backfilling the hole. Water it every several inches to avoid the formation of air pockets. After completely filling the hole, pat the soil down lightly.
When you dig a hole and add the plants into it, ensure that there is enough space in between each one. There should be a minimum of ten to fifteen feet of space apart together with the support system since it has vines that may quickly overpower each other.
Care for Wisteria
Just like what was indicated earlier, the wisteria, whether in vine or tree form, can flourish if you expose it to full sunlight. Giving it a minimum of six hours of sunlight daily will surely help it produce more beautiful blooms.
In terms of water, these vines require only a moderate amount. The water should just be enough to build and establish a strong and sturdy root system. It is capable of tolerating drought for a short period so a moderate amount of water is enough.
Overwatering is also bad for its growth. An excessive amount of water, especially if it comes with the application of fertilizer rich in nitrogen, may only stop the flowers from blossoming. The reason is that this may cause the plant to develop a higher amount of foliage.
The presence of excessive amounts of nutrients may cause the soil to become basic or acidic. The result would be serious issues with the plant, like chlorosis, especially if you cultivate it in alkaline soil.
The wisteria vines and trees favor loamy soil with just the right amount of nutrition. You also have to remember that this vining plant grows more healthily when cultivated in porous soils. It should be porous enough that it can retain sufficient moisture while still having excellent draining capabilities.
What is great about the wisteria is that there is a guarantee that it is indeed aggressive and known for being fast-growing. With that, you no longer have to fertilize it regularly. Even with that fact, it is still crucial to check the nutrition content of the soil just to be one hundred percent sure.
When it comes to the application of fertilizer, you should remember that those high in nitrogen may lead to the better growth of foliage but it can stop the plant from flowering. If you want your wisteria to produce more flowers, then it helps to use fertilizers rich in phosphorus, instead.
Wisteria vine propagation using seeds is not highly advisable since it often takes up to fifteen years for this plant species to bloom. If you need to propagate, then you may want to do so through grafting or by planting cuttings.
You may want to add root hormones as such can support the quicker development of roots during propagation. Avoid underwatering the plant as it may only cause the root system to become shallow. Give a sufficient amount of water during propagation to help the plant in creating a well-established root system.
Another crucial part of wisteria tree maintenance is pruning. This involves the prompt removal of branches that tend to grow low. Do the removal from the tree’s base as a means of stimulating the primary stem to grow.
While the wisteria tree is growing, take out lower shoots so you can retain its tree form. This means that every new growth that may occur should be on top.
It is also crucial to prune the topmost part of the tree regularly. That way, you can prevent the whole plant from becoming too heavy or taking over your entire garden. The best time to prune would be during the early spring.
When Your Wisteria Won’t Bloom
Wisteria are notorious for taking a long time to bloom. Don’t expect flowers for 2 to 3 years after planting. Some readers have sworn by this method to spur on blooming:
Take a shovel and drive it 8 to 10 inches into the ground about a foot and a half away from the wisteria’s main trunk to slice into some of the roots.
Damage about half of the roots and the bush will be shocked into reproduction (flowering).
Don’t worry—it’s difficult to hurt this rampantly-growing, unrestrained, often-invasive plant!
Frigid winter temperatures can also affect wisteria’s blooms.
Pests and Diseases
Wisteria has its share of pests and diseases that gardeners need to be aware of during the growing season. Here’s a quick list of pests and diseases to look for on your wisteria vines.
Dieback and leaf spot.
Crown gall and root rot.
Viral and fungal diseases, like mildew and mold.
Insects like Japanese beetles, aphids, mealybugs, and leaf miners.
Scale growing on the vines.
Use organic pesticides and fungicides to remove disease from your plants, and check the plants each day until they return to health.
Pros And Cons
It has great ornamental appeal.
Wisteria is a vigorous grower.
It’s an easy vine to grow.
The plant helps your soil.
They can become a nuisance.
They can take over native plants.
They are difficult to manage.
It is toxic.