Lavender Falls WisteriaWisteria floribunda 'Betty Tam' (PP #19,655)
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Wisteria floribunda 'Betty Tam' (PP #19,655)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Lavender Falls Wisteria is the only reliable re-blooming wisteria with full-sized, foot-long clusters of blooms. It blooms profusely in spring, on the bare branches, and then two or three times more, over the summer, among the leaves. This large climbing plant can be grown on a fence, a pergola, up a wall, or into a tree. It can even be trained through pruning to become a free-standing tree. The attractive light-green foliage is beautiful from late spring to fall.
The Lavender Falls Wisteria should be planted in full sun for maximum blooming. It grows well in any well-drained soil, and it is pest free, disease free, and ignored by deer and rabbits. It will begin to bloom once it is established, and it should be pruned once or twice a year to control its size and to increase blooming. Supports should be strong enough to carry the weight of the mature plant.
Everyone loves the gorgeous blooms of the wisteria, and a plant in bloom, its bare branches dripping with spectacular garlands of lavender flowers, is a wonderful garden feature. But for the rest of the season it is just leaves, and it is an extravagance to give the necessary large space to a plant that is beautiful for just 3 weeks of the year. Fine if you have a large property, but not so good in a smaller garden. There are alternatives, and one is the hardy re-blooming plant called Amethyst Falls, which we highly recommend. Its blooms are however smaller, so we are thrilled to have sourced some plants of a wonderful wisteria, with big hanging trusses up to a foot long. The Lavender Falls Wisteria is a reliable re-blooming climbing plant that produces flushes of blooms 2 or 3 times over the summer, following a wonderful spring blooming. Now it does become worthwhile to give it the space needed, knowing you will see lots and lots of blooms, repeatedly. Now you can enjoy wisteria, not just in spring, but in summer too – what could be better?
The Lavender Falls Wisteria is a deciduous twining plant that climbs on any structure, or up a tree, to a height of 10 to 20 feet. Left untrimmed it will cover a large area, perhaps up to 30 feet wide. With regular pruning, it can be kept much smaller, but it does need a significant space for good results. The woody stems twist around anything they encounter, and the lower parts of the plants will become thick, woody and tree-like. Young stems are light brown, and older stems are an attractive gray, with the bark becoming rugged, with lots of character. The leaves are large, 10 to 12 inches long, but they are divided into 11 leaflets, with one at the end and 5 pairs down the central stem. Each leaflet is smooth and oval, about 3½ inches long, and a bright, light green. In fall the leaves turn golden yellow.
In spring, before the new leaves develop, the first flowers appear. Each bud develops into a chain of flowers, about 12 inches long, consisting of about 40 blooms. These have the fragrance of hyacinths, and they are a gorgeous lavender-blue color. They resemble the flowers of pea plants, with the two parts in two different shades of blue. The effect of a plant in bloom is wonderful, and the lack of leaves intensifies that effect. Flowering lasts 2 to 3 weeks, and it is a highlight of that precious time when winter becomes spring. As the flowers are fading the new leafy stems appear and the plant grows vigorously. In the Lavender Falls Wisteria more blooms will form over the summer, often 2 or 3 times, with the flower clusters now nestling among the green leaves.
This plant needs support to climb on. This can be anything from a fence to a pergola, an old tree, or wires stretched across a wall. You can cover a whole wall of your house or hide an ugly fence. If you have a pergola or gazebo, one plant will cover a large part, or all of it, so always allow enough room for proper development of your plant.
Alternatively, it is possible with regular pruning to grow the Lavender Falls Wisteria as a free-standing plant. Begin with a simple framework of poles to support it, and train it into a spreading, umbrella shape. By regularly cutting back the long stems to that framework, you can control the size. In a few years the major stems will thicken enough to make the plant a self-supporting tree. Regular pruning will always be needed to control the form.
The Lavender Falls Wisteria is hardy and will bloom from zone 5 all the way into zone 9. In zone 4 it may survive with some winter damage and grow vigorously as a green plant each year. Spring blooming will be rare, but it is likely that summer blooms will be produced, unlike other varieties, where no blooming at all is normal in zone 4.
For the best results grow this plant in full sun. It will grow in partial shade, but blooming will be reduced considerably. It grows easily in all well-drained soils, and it is not particular about soil conditions, growing well even in poorer soils. In fact, poorer soils will often stimulate more blooming, so don’t over-feed your young plant.
This plant is generally free of pests or diseases, and rabbits and deer normally ignore it. It is normal for wisteria to take several years to become established before they begin to bloom, but some plants can and do bloom in their early years. Don’t fertilize after the first few years, unless growth is very slow and weak. Regular pruning will encourage earlier blooming and control the size and spread of the plant. The goal of pruning is to develop a persistent framework of branches, so train long stems to create that, and then, in early summer, cut back new shoots hard, leaving just 5 or 6 leaves. This will encourage the development of clusters of shorter stems that grow flower buds. Then in late winter, cut back the stems again to the flower buds, which can be recognized because they are large.
Patience is always a virtue in developing new plants, and Patrick Tam, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was incredibly patient, waiting 40 years to be sure that the unique seedling he had found was something special. In 1950, at his Southwood Garden Center he sowed some seeds of the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda. Among the seedlings was one that kept reblooming in summer. He kept it until he was totally sure it was a reliable rebloomer, and then patented it with his wife’s name, as ‘Betty Tam’, in 2009. It was released for all gardeners to grow in 2010 by Greenleaf Nursery Company, of Park Hill, Oklahoma, as part of their Garden Debut® plant collection, with the name Lavender Falls. The original plant is still blooming two or three times a year at the back of the Southwood Garden Center.
We love making the best plants available to our clients, so we are thrilled to have young plants of this wonderful wisteria. Order yours now, and enjoy those gorgeous blooms not once, but several times a year.