Because of the woody and large vines, space is one of the most important requirements in growing wisteria. It requires a stable support since it is a twining vine. When it comes to care and maintenance, on the other hand, pruning is one of the most important. In the rest of this post, we will tackle more about the growing requirements of wisteria. In the end, you will realize that it is not hard as what you might have initially thought.
Background and History
This flowering plant is a part of the Fabaceae family, which is native to Japan, Korea, China, and the United States. Two of its species are from the United States and eight are from Asia. According to historical records, the name wisteria came from Thomas Nuttall, a botanist in the 19th century. He named it after Casper Wistar, a doctor from Philadelphia.
For most people, they grow wisteria because of its ornamental value. It is a perennial vine, which can survive for up to 50 years or more. However, this is one plant that may test your patience as it will most probably take a long time before the flowers will bloom. For this reason, a lot of people tend to start from growing in seedlings. We will discuss more of this in the latter part of this post.
One of the oldest wisterias was found in Japan, which has been around for more than 1,200 years. Because of its long life, it is also a symbol of immortality. As a durable plant, wisteria also signifies the ability of the heart to endure pain. In Shin Buddhism, on the other hand, wisteria symbolizes prayer or thoughtful reverence. Lastly, in Feng Shui, because the wisteria appears as if it is bowing down, it also means honor and respect.
Physical Characteristics of Wisteria
A woody vine and a large houseplant, wisteria can reach a maximum height of 65 feet. The maximum width, on the other hand, is 32 feet. The leaves are dark green, which will form nine to 19 leaflets that are oblong in shape and wavy along the edges. The leaves are in alternating patterns in each branch of the plant. Each pinnate leaf has an approximate length of 15 to 35 centimeters.
The flowers are what make wisteria a beautiful addition to the garden. They look like peas and grow in clusters. The color can vary, but most of them will have shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. The flowers can all bloom at the same time, or one after the other. Blooming time is summer and spring. After the blooming of the flowers, the seeds will appear, which are flat green. Each pod will contain up to six seeds. In the case of some wisteria species, they have a fragrant smell, which will be reminiscent of grapes.
Varieties of Wisteria
If you are thinking of planting wisteria, below are some of the varieties that you should know about:
- Shiro Kapitan
- Lavender Lace
- Royal Purple
- Black Dragon
Belonging to the group of silky wisteria, this plant produces pure white and silky flowers, with an average length of six inches. The flowers have distinct yellow markings. It is also known for its strong fragrance.
The long and hanging flowers of this wisteria can reach a maximum length of up to 20 inches. Each cluster will have 80 to 100 flowers, with color ranging from violet to pale lavender. The bright green and pinnate foliage add a striking contrast to its colorful flowers.
A part of the larger group of Japanese wisteria, it grows violet to purple flowers, the length of each can reach up to 40 inches. Aside from the voluptuous flowers, it is also popular for its strong smell.
Another type of Japanese wisteria, its long and drooping flowers have an average length of 16 inches. The colors can be purple or lilac blue. They also have yellow markings. The strong scent of the flowers makes it attractive for bees.
Compared to most of the varieties above, this is a slightly more compact plant. It produces pale lilac blooms, with an average length of only four to six inches. The height of the plant, however, can reach up to 20 feet.
The pale rose blooms of this variety of wisteria can grow up to 24 inches. The height can be anywhere from 10 to 25 feet while the spread can be four to eight feet. Its pink color makes it one of the most romantic wisterias you can plant.
This Chinese wisteria produces long and heavy blue flowers, which appear in the middle of summer. This climbing tree can reach up to ten meters in height and spread in 20 years.
One of the best things about this variety is its ability to bloom even at a young age. It will have purple flowers with a fragrant smell, making it attract bees and other pollinators.
With violet or purple flowers, the fragrant blooms of this flower will have an approximate length of 20 inches. They will appear in late spring or early summer. The foliage, on the other hand, is dense and pinnate, with up to 11 leaflets.
This Japanese wisteria has flowers with a sweet scent, with a length that will be about 20 inches on average. The blooms are dense and blue-violet in color. The greenish yellow blotch will create an excellent contrast.
As a shrub, this is more compact as against most of the wisteria varieties. It has long and cascading flowers, which can grow up to two feet in length. It is also double blooming, which makes the flowers dense.
Uses and Applications
The following are some of the uses of wisteria, providing you with reasons to plant it at home:
- Ornamental Plant: This is perhaps the best use of wisteria. Almost any variety exudes an aesthetic appeal that is hard to match. Whether it is fresh in the garden or for unique floral arrangements, its bright blooms are sure to be beautiful.
- Fence Cover: This is related to the use of wisteria as an ornamental plant. If you have an unattractive fence that you want to get out of sight, you can consider planting wisteria. Nonetheless, consider the fact that it takes a long time before the plant grows.
- Culinary Applications: The blossoms of wisteria are edible. However, do not eat the seeds as they are toxic. Also, be familiar with the specific variety of the plant and know if you can eat it or not. In most cases, the blooms will be a bright addition to a salad.
How to Plant Wisterias
Growing wisteria at home is possible, but you have to pick the right type. America wisteria grows in the wild. For a home garden, on the other hand, Japanese and Chinese wisterias will be the best choice. Most of them are tall, but there are also varieties that are more compact, which will be a perfect choice if you have space limitations.
If you want to plant wisteria, here is one thing you might find useful – do not plant seeds. The latter is especially true if you are an impatient gardener. Growing roots will take a long time and it will be around two decades before the plants will show its first blooms. With this, a better alternative is to buy a young plant, which will significantly minimize the growing time. Purchase a seedling only from a reputable manufacturer to be sure that it is healthy.
Once you have the plant with you, the next thing to do is to pick the right location. Because it is a large and twining plant, you need to have an ample amount of space. It will be difficult to move the plant later on because they will be too big. Find a place where it will receive full sun, but while also making sure that there is appropriate support so that the plant will not fall as it grows.
Now that you have the plant and you have chosen the right location, dig a hole, which should be large enough to accommodate the seedling. It should be two to three times the size of what you will plant. If you are planting several seedlings, on the other hand, make sure to have ten to 15 feet of space in between each plant. It will also be good to add compost or any organic matter, which will increase the nutrients in the soil. The soil should also be moist and should provide the aeration that the roots need to grow. Plant the seedling, cover it with more soil, press firmly, and water the ground.
Common Pests and Diseases
Poor flowering and wilting are some of the most common problems that are evident in wisterias. There are many reasons for these conditions, but more often than not, it can be because of the diseases and pests that are affecting the plant. Some of the frequent diseases in wisteria include leaf spot, powdery mildew, root rot, crown galls, and cankers. For pests, meanwhile, pay attention to the presence of aphids, soft scales, and spotted tree borer, among others.
How to Take Care of Wisterias
Patience is one of the most important things when it comes growing wisteria. Other than this, here are some of the tips to keep in mind so that you can achieve success, even as a novice gardener:
- Regular pruning is necessary. This will make the plant manageable, especially because it can grow extremely large. If you do not prune it, the plant will look like a distraction in the garden and will lose its ornamental value. The best time to prune the tree is before the start of winter. You have to remove as much as half as the growth from the previous year. However, make sure that you prune only when the plant is already in the growing season. Doing this at a time that is too early will only inhibit growth.
- It is also necessary to water the plant, which is especially important during the growing season of the plant. In the first year, watering will help to establish the growth of the roots. Increase the frequency of watering during the dry months. Upon establishing, however, you can minimize watering.
- To encourage better growth of the plant and to supplement the nutrients that it needs, you will also need to apply fertilizer. However, keep in mind that not all fertilizers will deliver the outcomes that you anticipate. As much as possible, stay away from nitrogen fertilizers. The latter will encourage more foliage than flowers. It is best to use fertilizers with phosphorus.
- If you live in a place where there is extreme winter, you need to find a place with cover or shade. This is going to offer protection from frost. While most varieties can tolerate frost, in extreme cases, it can cause the tree to not produce any flower at all.
- Mulch and compost will also be essential for the healthy growth of the plant. Every spring of the year, put a layer of compost or mulch around the ground where you plant the wisteria. This will help in retaining moisture and in the prevention of the growth of weeds.
- Training wisteria is also important for growing the plant. You have to provide trellis so that the plant can grow fully. It is best to grow it on the wall, but be sure to provide horizontal wires. You can also grow it in arches, pergolas, and trees, among other places that can provide support.
It is pretty much easy to harvest the flowers of wisteria. All that you need is to cut it from the tip, but make sure that you use only clean scissors. This will help to prevent the transfer of infection or pathogens that can damage the health of the plant. On the other hand, if you will harvest seeds, make sure to pick it from a healthy bloom. All that you have to do is to remove the pods, split it into half by twisting, and the seeds will release from the pod.
Location – this is the most important factor in growing wisteria. Make sure that it is in a place where there is enough space for the plant to grow. Care and maintenance are pretty much very basic, with the most important being regular pruning. The latter will keep the plant compact and in attractive shape.