Wisteria - Pros and Cons

The first time that I saw a Wisteria, I knew that I wanted one for my garden. A neighbor, had a Wisteria tree and when it was in full bloom it was the most beautiful tree that I had ever seen. Wisterias are vines that can live a long time and because of how sturdy they can become they can be grown as a standard or tree form. Most gardeners grow them as a vine, but beware they do need a very STRONG structure to climb on. They are hardy, vigorous growers that can grow to about 25 feet and can live a very long life. This is a plant that requires a committed gardener because you will be doing lots of pruning to keep it in bounds. Wisteria prefers full sun and moderately fertile moist soil that does not dry out excessively. They will adapt to most soils, but prefer neutral to slightly acid. Do not fertilize this plant with nitrogen unless you want to spend lots of time pruning.

Wisteria flowers are pea like and very fragrant. They come in white, pink, lilac-blue, bluish-purple or purple depending on the variety. They bloom in spring and produce a flat seed pod. If you grow from seed, it will take 10 to 15 years for your plant to bloom. Cuttings will bloom much earlier. Young plants can be fertilized until they fill the alloted area you want them to grow in.
Once the plant matures do not fertilize unless growth and color are not good. If you stimulate vegetative growth you will limit your flowers. When you purchase a Wisteria, buy one with a single trunk or leader.

Grow Wisteria on a strong structure like a wood pergola, arbor or trellis. If you grow it on your house, keep it in bounds to prevent damage to your home. This is what it can do to a fence (see pictures).

If your Wisteria does not bloom it could be caused by the following:

  • Young plant - needs time to mature if it was grown from seed. Purchase grafted Wisteria vines instead.

  • Not enough sun.

  • Pruned incorrectly.

  • Flower buds could have been killed due to a severe winter.

  • Excessive nitrogen fertilizer.

To encourage blooming, try adding a superphosphate (0-20-0) in early spring and proper pruning during the year including root pruning in late fall. Wisteria does not transplant very well. Wisteria is a beautiful vine that can be outstanding in a garden setting. Just remember this plant will require more maintenance than most plants.

Happy Gardening!

The Creative Gardener


Cathy said…
Very Informational thank you! I have a 3 year old vine that I will be pruning it this year.
Sheila said…
My wisteria is just starting to bloom. Is there a lovelier plant in the spring?
I love wisteria, but we don't have a good place to grow any. I always enjoy seeing them in bloom.
RainGardener said…
I just love them too but we also don't have anywhere to put it at the moment. Yours is beautiful. Very informative post.
Jen said…
Proof that wisteria can live a long time? I once read a book where a wisteria vine was a character in a family saga. Witnessing years and years of trauma and drama and arguments in the yard!
Maureen said…
What a fabulous climber this is, my niece had one at the front of her last house. Yours look great and the photo's are nice :)
Pam Kersting said…
Great post! Very informative too. The only time I have ever specified wisteria in a garden plan was when I lived in New Mexico. There the growing conditions were so harsh, we didn't have to worry about it overtaking everything. It is beautiful in flower however, in my opinion it's bloom is not long-lasting enough to warrant me using it more often. So I get my fill from other people's plants each Spring.