The Mysteries of Wisteria

By Karen Fraizer

For too many people, me included, the thought of growing Wisteria can cause nightmares. Kingwood recently planted a variety called Amethyst Falls Wisteria in the new Carriage House Garden. This is an American Wisteria, which is supposed to be smaller and slower growing than its oriental cousins. Now that spring is upon us I have been thinking that it’s time to start training these four Wisteria plants, which also got me thinking about how little I actually know about this plant. So in order to care for and prune them properly I’m going to have to do some research.

Wisteria

Here is a list of the tips I found most useful, and what I’m going to use to care for our Wisteria.

  • The planting sight for your Wisteria should be in at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Moist well drained soil profile.
  • A fairly substantial structure to train the vine on. Wisteria can become very heavy over time.
  • American Wisteria naturally twines counterclockwise, that’s how you should train it.
  • Wisteria should be growing for a year before you start pruning it.
  • American Wisteria blooms on new wood.
  • Pruning in summer is to promote reblooming. So prune after spring flowers.
  • Choose one central stem to be the main stem of the plant. Remove all others.
  • Leave lateral stems along the main stem at 1 foot intervals. Remove all others.
  • Prune new growth on the lateral stems back to just 6 leaves.
  • This is your maintenance pruning and should be done every summer.
  • Prune in late winter to control shape and size.
  • Winter is when you can cut off the main stem to keep your plant pruned to specific height.
  • Also remove any dead or bad growth in winter.
  • Fertilize in spring to encourage prolific growth.
  • When the plant is at desired size stop fertilizing.

I hope these tips help take the mystery out of growing and caring for Wisteria.

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