These ethereal, magical vines can transport your home into a simpler time. Wisteria has a gorgeous purple color to it and grows extremely fast. Learn when to plant wisteria and how much maintenance is required.
When to plant wisteria: Wisteria is a perennial vine that can be planted in the spring or the fall. If you have mild winters, plant in the fall but if you have very cold winters, it is better to start in the spring. Dig the area up to ensure it can drain well and add nutritious compost. Be sure to prune your wisteria back every year so that it holds its shape and doesn’t completely take over.
Planting Wisteria in Different Climates
Wisteria should be fine in a tropical climate. While it is traditionally grown in an area that has a cold, dormant period, the vine is very adaptable and can grow in areas with heat and humidity.
Even though wisteria needs water to thrive, you may be able to plant it in a dry climate. It will love soil that drains well but you will need to supplement with hand watering most of the year.
A temperate climate will be great for wisteria. The cool dormant period will allow it to rest and for you to work on maintenance, and the warm spring and summer will bring out the blooms.
Wisteria can survive down to hardiness zone 4, so this is a good vine to have in a continental climate. The roots are very hardy and if part of the plant succumbs to the cold, you can cut that part off and salvage the rest.
Even though wisteria is adaptable, it is not meant for a polar climate. It is too cold and there is not enough sunlight.
Choosing Wisteria Seeds
This variety is native to many parts of North America, including Texas, New York, and Michigan. The vines can get very long and grow up to 30 feet long.
Expect gorgeous flowers with a soft purple color. Keep cutting this vine back as the blooms only grow on new wood.
Similar to American wisteria, this is a species native to North America. It will bloom slightly later in the spring but still produces those pale purple flowers.
Kentucky wisteria grows very quickly and you can expect blooms about two years after planting. While the flowers aren’t overly fragrant, you should get some scent from the flowers.
How to Plant Wisteria Seeds
You can plant wisteria in either the spring or the fall. The key is that the plant should be dormant and not in the middle of flowering.
Overall, the plant is pretty hardy and even grows in hardiness zones 4 through 8. However, if you live in a colder area, it is best to wait for spring to plant as the extreme cold might shock your wisteria.
Seeds vs plants
While you can grow wisteria from seeds, this is a long growing process. The plant will grow quickly once it is established, but before it hits maturity, you will have to wait for a few years.
It is much easier to plant wisteria as a cutting or a division from an established plant. Wisteria should be readily available at your local gardening center.
If you want those gorgeous purple blooms, you will need to plant your wisteria somewhere in full sun. Technically, the vines can grow in partial shade, but the flowers won’t develop.
You want soil that is nutritious, so add compost or organic matter into the area before you plant. Soil that drains well is also important to prevent root rot from settling in.
Even though you may start with a small wisteria cutting, the plant will grow and spread out very quickly. Make sure you don’t plant anywhere close to other plants or near trees or objects you don’t want it to climb onto.
As we mentioned, wisteria will grow on any nearby support area. While you might like the look of wisteria on homes, it can cause damage, so stay away from planting near garages or the side of your house.
Instead, create a specially made support structure, such as a trellis or pergola. This plant is very strong once it starts to grow, so make sure the support system is firmly attached to the ground and is made from more durable materials, such as metal.
Always place your support structure next to your wisteria immediately after planting. The sooner you can train your new plant, the easier it will be.
Remember that wisteria wants to grow upwards and will take hold of anything in its way. This strong plant may look pretty but its strength can damage support walls.
When starting with a small wisteria plant, dig the hole so that it is two times the width of the root ball. Place the roots in the hole so that they are level with the ground.
If the root ball is compact, gently move the roots around to loosen them. Fill the hole with water and give the area a good watering.
How to Water Wisteria
The goal for wisteria is to have about one inch of water per week. Pay attention to your rainfall and if it is dry that week, be sure to add more water.
Even though wisteria can grow in hot summers, it is not drought tolerant so you will need to keep up with regular watering to keep it alive and vibrant.
How to Grow Wisteria
Compost and Mulch
To help get nutrients back into your soil, add a layer of compost around where your wisteria is growing. You can then add a thick layer of bark mulch.
Not only will the mulch helps retain water but it will naturally decompose and add more nutrients to your garden. Keep up with this cycle every spring.
You can also add phosphorus to the area to help with flowering. You can use this in chemical form or you can rake in a cup of bone meal into the soil.
Wisteria can quickly get out of hand so regular pruning is important. Wait until it is late winter to prune so that you don’t disturb any new growth.
Wisteria is pretty forgiving, so you can actually remove up to half of it every year. Prune the branches back so that there are only a few new buds on each stem.
For those that want a more organized look to their wisteria, you can also add in an extra pruning in the summer. Wait until the plant is done flowering and then cut back so there are only 6 inches of new growth on a branch.
Even if you start with a small wisteria plant, it might not bloom for the first two or three years. If you are tired of waiting, there are a few tips you can follow.
Wisteria may bloom if you shock the system. Take a sharp shovel and drive it into the roots so that they are partially damaged.
Yes, this seems drastic but it won’t hurt the hardy vine and many gardeners swear by this method.
Pests and diseases
Overall, wisteria doesn’t have too many issues with pests or diseases. A few common issues to be aware of are aphids and mealybugs.
A few times each year, go through wisteria to see if there are any issues. Look for brown spots on the leaves or bugs and eggs.
If you do see any issues, remove the affected branches. An organic spray can be used to deter more pests.
How long does wisteria take to grow?
Wisteria is very fast growing. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and is very heavy when in bloom.
However, it can take at least three years to establish itself if you grow it from seeds. Furthermore, even if you transplant a cutting from an established vine, it can take two to three years to see any flowers.
Is wisteria an invasive plant?
Wisteria grows very quickly and there are some who view it as an invasive plant. However, there are many variations of the plant and only some are categorized as invasive.
Both Japanese wisteria and Chinese wisteria are not native to North America and there are many regions that view these varieties as invasive.
However, there are some varieties that are native to North America, such as Kentucky wisteria and American wisteria. While these plants will grow quickly, they are safe to plant in your yard.
Is wisteria toxic?
Yes, wisteria is toxic, so you need to be careful when planting and growing it. While it is safe to touch, if you ingest any part of the plant, including the flowers and the foliate, you can be gravely ill.
So, if you have pets or small children, wisteria might not be the best plant to grow.
Wisteria is a gorgeous vine that will add personality to any garden. Plant wisteria in the spring or, if you have a mild winter, in the fall.