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Wisteria Vines

Romantic blooms on cascading vines. If Grace Kelly were a plant, she'd surely be a Wisteria.

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Wisteria Vines

Wisteria vines are a particularly eye-catching garden feature, blooming with delicate purple flowers during the spring. They’re a popular decorative feature that can be draped across fences, gazebos and privacy screens, or grown up the sides of houses and conservatories. With a beautiful fragrance and lantern-shaped blossoms, wisteria is the perfect way of adding a touch of whimsy to any outdoor space. Wisteria vines do require quite a lot of care to maintain, but their striking beauty is well worth the extra effort. These flowering vines are hardy, however, and can withstand droughts and poorer quality soil, making them fairly easy to grow even for more novice gardeners.

Choosing Wisterias

There are many types of wisteria to choose from when planting vines, but not every wisteria plant will suit your needs. Some species you could consider include:

· Japanese Wisteria – Known for its long-lasting fragrance
· American Wisteria (frutescens) – Thinner vines for easier pruning
· Amethyst Falls Wisteria – Rich, deep color and slower growth
· Purple Wisteria – Large clusters of flowers often measuring over 1 foot
· Chinese Wisteria – Grows more rapidly than some other species

All types of wisteria have beautiful lavender-colored flowers with a pleasant fragrance, but it’s worth considering the characteristics of each species before making a decision. In the US, both Purple Wisteria and Amethyst Falls Wisteria are popular choices, as they grow well in most areas. Keep in mind that wisteria vines need to grow around a supporting structure in your garden, such as a wall or trellis, whereas wisteria trees can stand alone.

How to Plant a Wisteria Vine

When it comes to planting wisteria, stick to the spring or fall months. You may be able to plant wisteria in containers at any time of year, but spring and fall still give your vines better conditions to establish themselves.

Wisteria plants should be grown in full sun for best results. While they can tolerate partial shade for a little while in the afternoon, full sun provides wisteria vines with the ideal conditions to produce flowers. Avoid planting wisteria near any large trees that may block the sun and make sure climbing wisteria vines are on walls that receive direct sunlight for most of the day.

You will need to plan carefully before planting your wisterias, making sure there’s enough space and support for them to grow. Gardeners typically use stakes, rods, a trellis, or a wire system to guide their wisteria vines as they grow, which should be installed before your wisteria are to be planted during the spring.

Soil isn’t as important for wisteria as it is for some plants, as they can grow well in poorer soil. However, for optimal results, wisteria vines should be planted in well-draining soil with a neutral pH. Well-draining soil should be a priority if you expect heavy rainfall throughout the year, as wisteria does not like to be waterlogged for long periods of time.

Before digging holes for your wisteria, measure each root ball to determine its size. Holes should be double the size of a root ball, but the depth should be an inch shallower to allow your vines to settle over time. Once the hole has been backfilled, your wisteria will need to be watered straight away.

Caring for Your Wisterias

Wisteria plants need a considerable amount of care to remain in good condition. A substandard level of care may result in fewer flower buds or could even mean your vines won’t flower at all. However, wisterias are overall easy to look after once you’re aware of their needs. They’re relatively hardy and forgiving of subpar circumstances for certain periods of time.

Wisteria vines aren’t particularly prone to disease either, meaning that as long as you keep your plants healthy, you shouldn’t have any problems. Pests like Wisteria borers are attracted to trees that are already sickly and can be difficult to control, so it’s best to prevent issues from arising with proper care and regular maintenance of your vines.

Here are some essential ways to care for wisteria to give your vines the best chance at flowering for years to come:

Watering

Wisteria vines are drought tolerant, but maintaining a good watering schedule will help them to stay in better health. Ideally, wisteria needs moderate rainfall, but they must be watered thoroughly just after they’ve been planted. If your vines are receiving around an inch of rainfall each week, there’s usually no need to water them yourself. However, make sure you are giving your wisteria flowers enough water in the summer if the months are particularly dry. You could even consider installing an irrigation system if the area you live in has very little rainfall during the warmer months. However, watering your wisteria once each week if your garden has received little rain should suffice.

Fertilizing

If the soil in your garden is poor, or you want to encourage new growth in your new flowering vine, you can use fertilizer. However, in general, it’s not recommended to use fertilizer with wisteria vines, as they grow quickly and aren’t affected much by poorer-quality soil. The only time you need fertilizer is if your soil is exceptionally poor, but be very careful to avoid over-fertilizing your plants. Instead of fertilizer, you may want to consider scratching bone metal into your soil to improve its phosphorus content. Avoid adding extra nitrogen into the soil, however.

Mulching can be recommended for wisteria vines if you want to conserve water as much as possible, especially when your plants are still young and freshly planted. It’s best to use mulch straight after planting and then it should only be used again once each year.

Pruning

Pruning is the most intensive part of caring for wisteria vines, as they grow very quickly and need to be maintained. By pruning your vines at least twice a year (once in the mid-summer and once in late winter), you’ll not only be ensuring that they’re manageable and contained, but you’ll also be encouraging the growth of new flowers.

Winter pruning is particularly important, as this is when you need to cut back around half the year’s growth to encourage new flowers in the spring. You can also prune away the fuzzy seed pods on young wisteria, as this can also encourage new flower growth.

In the summer, your main goal is to control longer shoots that should then flower with adequate pruning. To ensure your vines grow around the support structure you set up, you need to train the strong new vines to wrap around the main wires. Prune small shoots for a neater appearance and pinch main vines once they’ve reached the right height.

FAQs

How fast do wisteria vines grow? Wisteria vines grow very quickly and can average 10 feet of new growth in a single year. This is why it’s so important to prune your vines at least twice a year to manage new vines. Some wisteria species grow more quickly than others – for example, Chinese wisteria is known for particularly rapid growth, while Amethyst Falls wisteria grows more slowly.

Is wisteria a vine or a tree? The wisteria plant can be referred to as either a vine or a tree, the key difference being that wisteria trees typically stand alone and don’t need supports, while wisteria vines usually climb a structure like a pagoda or a trellis.

Can wisteria be grown in pots? Wisteria can be grown in pots, but typically only as a tree rather than vines. It can be more difficult to grow wisteria in a pot, however, as the soil isn’t always sufficient to provide for all of its needs.

When does a wisteria tree bloom? Wisteria blooms in the spring, typically between the months of April and June. Some wisteria may also bloom a second time in August.

How long does wisteria bloom? Wisteria will usually bloom throughout the spring months, but flower clusters may last until the summer, particularly if you live in a milder climate.

How often do wisteria bloom? Most wisterias bloom once a year in the spring, but some may also bloom for a short period of time in the summer as well. Not all wisteria plants bloom every year, but you can encourage new flowers with the right care and pruning.

Is wisteria poisonous to dogs? Yes, wisteria vines and trees are poisonous when consumed by dogs. Dogs will be particularly badly affected if they eat any wisteria seeds or seed pods, but they shouldn’t be allowed to consume any part of the plant.