A Spectacular Bloomer

What a wonderful plant the wisteria is! - very exotic, with its pea-like pendulous racemes of purple, blue or white flowers, often seen growing on the walls of a house, or trained over a pergola. Very striking! The fact that it has a subtly fragrant flowers is an added bonus.

This climbing plant looks so exotic and spectacular that people often think they couldn't possibly grow one in their own gardens. Admittedly, wisterias do need some maintenance, but if you know what you are doing, there shouldn't be a problem.

And then, of course, there is the added uncertainty because friends have tried to grow one, and they haven't flowered in 15 years!

So, how do you give yours the best chance of success?

There are several factors that you need to take into account:-

1 Buy a plant, if at all possible, that is flowering or has flowered. Wisteria have what is called a 'jeuvenile stage' and it may take around seven years before it flowers. If you buy one that has flowered, you know it is over that stage.

2 Plant in full sun. It is unlikely that it will do very well unless is is planted in a warm, sunny position.

3 Avoid feeding your plant with anything that contains nitrogen. This promotes fabulous leaf growth at the expense of flowers!

4 Make sure your stucture is sturdy enough, as these plants are vigorious growers. Prune to suit your structure's size and strength.

5 Learn how to prune your wisteria properly - see 'Pruning Wisteria' below. This will keep the plant in check and promote good flowering.

All in all, if you do these things, you are more likely to achieve the desired result - a fantastic and spectacular display!

Planting Combinations

Quite often these wonderful plants are grown on their own because they are of such brilliance that they can easily stand alone as a feature plant.

If, however, you would prefer more interest throughout the seasons, try growing them in combination with other climbers. Take a look at the link below to find climbing plants that will compliment and enhance your garden structure.

Sometimes people grow plants at the base to disguise the bare stems. However, these bare stems can be an interesting; an almost sculptural feature in themselves.

Crocus - Plant Search

Pruning Wisteria

The main aim of pruning is to establish a strong framework for your plant and, most importantly, to promote flowering.

In the early stages, aim to have a strong main shoot with several strong lateral (side) shoots growing form the main shoot. Begin to train these over your structure. It is from these main lateral shoots that you will get the long wiry stems, which need to be pruned, and which will bear flowers.

Keep the basic framework in check by cutting back to the alotted space.

Pruning is done in two stages:

  1. About two months after flowering, in July to August, long wiry shoots will have sprouted from the main stems. Cut back these shoots to 5-6 buds of the main branch. Remove any unwanted growth at the base of the plant.
  2. In mid-winter - January to February, cut back these same shoots to 2-3 buds from the main stem. These are the shoots that will flower in the coming year. You can easily distinguish the flowering stems from the foliage stems in late winter - the flowering stems are plump and blunt and the foliage stems are pointed and narrow.

If you would like more help on this subjest, an excellent source of information on pruning and training all types of plants is the book RHS - Pruning and Training (includes how to prune your wisteria) , which has clear diagrams to show you exactly what to do.

Some people say that 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'. Where pruning and training are concerned, this is not the case. With just a little advice and reassurance, the mysteries of this gardening know-how can be dispelled. Your confidence will grow and your plants will flourish - or should that be the other way around!!

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