Wisteria: growing in the garden, species and varieties

Table of Contents

Wisteria flower-1 Wisteria (Greek for “sweet”), or Wisteria, is a genus of tree-like climbing plants in the legume family, which grows in subtropical areas and attracts attention with its fragrant, drooping mauve inflorescences. The Wisteria flower received its Latin name, Wisteria, in honor of Caspar Wisteria, a professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. There are nine known species of the genus Wisteria, but only Chinese wisteria and Japanese wisteria, or abundant flowering wisteria, are grown as garden crops.

Wisteria: Planting and care

  • Planting: sow seeds in the ground – early spring, seedlings – in December, planting seedlings in the ground – in May.
  • Flowering: from the end of March to the end of summer.
  • Lighting: bright sun in the first half of the day, then – scattered light or penumbra.
  • Soil: nutritious, well-drained, slightly alkaline reaction.
  • Watering from spring to the end of summer: soil in the bush should be slightly moist all the time; from mid-September watering is gradually reduced.
  • Feeding: during vegetation once a week by alternate mineral and organic solutions.
  • Pruning: in summer, in order to maintain the shape of the bush.
  • Propagation: sometimes by seeds, but more often by grafts.
  • Pests: clover mites, aphids.
  • Diseases: chlorosis.
Read more about growing wisteria below

Botanical description

Wisteria is a deciduous liana with drooping branches that grows 15-18 meters tall. Its leaves are unpaired, pubescent when young, up to 30 cm long with 7 to 13 leaflets. It has fragrant purple, lilac or white flowers in stems up to 30 cm long. Wisteria blooms in spring, in late March, and may bloom throughout the summer.

Wisteria tree is very in demand in landscape design, it is grown in different forms – and as a liana, enveloping the walls of a pergola or the frame of the fence, and as a stump tree. Wisteria is also grown at home in a container way in the form of a tree, but still home wisteria is not as common as garden wisteria, so let’s talk about growing wisteria in the garden.

Growing Wisteria from seed

Growing conditions

Wisteria seeds are planted in late November or early December. Wisteria seeds are sown on the surface of a soil mixture consisting of leaf soil (four parts), sod soil and sand (one part each), top with a thin layer of sand, sprayed with water from a sprayer and, having covered the container with glass to create a greenhouse effect, put it in a dark warm (22-25ºC) place, all the time keeping the soil slightly moist. Wisteria sprouts from seeds in 3-4 weeks, and in another week and a half you can move the seedlings to the light, organizing their protection from direct sunlight.

When the seedlings form two leaves, they are pickled in separate containers along with a root ball of soil and watered with a weak solution of manganese solution.

Care of the nurslings

Nested seedlings in individual containers must be accustomed to the environment in which they will live. To do this, take them out into an unheated part of the house for a couple of hours a day or keep them under a half-open window, provided there is no draught in the room.

You can sow wisteria seeds directly into the open ground in early spring, then the seedlings grow adapted to the habitat and later enjoy their endurance.

Wisteria tree-4

Planting wisteria

When to plant

Planting Wisteria is done in spring, when the last frosts have passed. All species of garden wisteria are cold-resistant, but it is better not to expose young plants to the risk of frostbite. Before planting wisteria, it is necessary to determine in which area it will grow better – wisteria is not an annual, and if you are interested in the quality of flowering, keep in mind that it must be in the sun half the day, so the place for planting is chosen the sunniest and protected from wind gusts, the soil – nutritious, well-drained and slightly alkaline.

Wisteria blooms-5

How to plant

Wisteria seedlings are transplanted into pits of size 60x60x50 cm, having previously made mineral fertilizers in the soil on the site under the digging at the rate of 25-30 g per square meter of planting area. Be prepared for the fact that the wisteria will not show signs of life for a while – it grows a long time, and in the first years it forms only long thin shoots. In general, the beautiful flowers of wisteria grown from seed, you can see only in 4-5, and even in 10 years.

Care of wisteria in the garden

Care rules

From spring to the end of summer, wisteria requires moderate watering, so that the soil under it is always slightly moist, but in no case wet. If the spring without rain, you will have to water harder, because the buds may fall off and you will not see the flowers for which the plant was planted. From mid-September, watering is gradually reduced.

To ensure that the wisteria flowers in time and abundantly, it during the active vegetation period is fed once a week, alternating liquid mineral fertilizers (Kemira-lux, for example) with organic ones (infusion of cowpea in a ratio of 1:20). It is useful to water the wisteria once a season with chalk water (100 g of chalk per bucket of water). When the flowers begin to fade, remove the inflorescences. In addition, you will have to trim dry branches, garter and guide the shoots so that they do not fall and grow in the right direction.

Before the onset of winter you need to dip the root rosette high, remove the liana from the supports and lay it on the bedding circle, as you do with pleated roses, preparing them for winter, and then cover them with dry leaves and cover with spunbond or lutrasil. You don’t have to do all this, but if it doesn’t snow in winter, the wisteria can freeze.


When does the wisteria bloom? Chinese wisteria blooms at age three and Japanese wisteria blooms at age ten, so wisteria is a plant for those who know how to wait. Wisteria of the Chinese varieties blooms from April, with all the buds opening at the same time. Wisteria with abundant flowering blooms from May to June. Make sure there is no excess nitrogen in the soil, otherwise the wisteria will build up greenery but will not bloom.

Wisteria or wisteria tree-7


Prune wisteria to stimulate flowering and to shape the plant. To form a stumpy tree, choose one strong shoot, and remove the rest. If you grow wisteria as a whip plant, the abundantly growing side shoots should preferably be removed, so that the wisteria does not spend its forces on too sprawling greenery, and directed them to the formation of buds.

Pruning wisteria in spring consists in removing the young shoots sticking out, so that they do not hide the flower bunches from view with their foliage during flowering. In addition, the young annual side branch can only produce flowers in the current year if you shorten it to 30 cm.

Formative pruning of the plant is carried out in summer: the side shoots are cut by 20-40 cm, and at the very end of summer by another 10-20 cm. However, try not to get carried away with the process, otherwise you can deprive yourself of the pleasure of seeing the lush flowering of wisteria.

Glycinia in the garden-8

Propagation of wisteria

We have already described in this article the reproduction of wisteria by seed. It is worth adding that many of the sprouted and even grown seedlings may never give flowers – no one knows why this happens. But we have repeatedly told readers that seed propagation is unreliable and it is much better to use vegetative methods of propagation.

The easiest way to propagate wisteria is by grafts. To do this in the spring, select an annual shoot, make an oblique cut in the middle of its length, bend the shoot and put the cut on a pot with clay and sod substrate, fix the tap in this position and dig it, leaving the tip of the shoot free. Separate the rooted offshoot from the mother plant will be possible only the next spring.

Various publications write that you can propagate wisteria by cuttings or grafting on the roots, but I do not know anyone who has succeeded in this in fact, but the offshoots have taken root with me.

Pests and Diseases

Wisteria is sometimes subject to occupation by aphids or the clover mite. Aphids are eliminated with an insecticide and mites with an acaricide. If the wisteria grows in alkaline soil, it can be affected by chlorosis, which causes its leaves to turn yellow. In the fight against the disease, root feedings of wisteria with iron salts are used.

Wisteria plant-10

Species and varieties

Wisteria chinensis

A dense foliage liana that grows up to 15-20 meters tall. Its leaves are unpaired, large and pubescent at first, becoming smooth over time. Flowers in loose racemes up to 30 cm long, pale lilac. The fruit is a bean up to 15 cm long. This species has a garden form with white flowers (f. alba) and a form with terry flowers (f. plena).

Wisteria chinensis-11

Wisteria floribunda (Wisteria floribunda)

Wisteria commonly known as ‘Japanese’ because it originates from the Japanese islands, it differs from the Chinese one in being smaller (only 8-10 m long), with larger leaves up to 40 cm long and 19 leaflets, a larger number of inflorescences on the plant and up to 50 cm long. The flowers themselves are smaller than those of Wisteria chinensis, purple-blue in color, blooming gradually, starting at the base of the brush. This species is more cold hardy than Chinese wisteria. There are garden forms with white, pink, and purple terry flowers and a variegated form with mottled leaves.

Wisteria floribunda, or multi-flowered Wisteria floribunda-12

Besides these two most popular species are also known in culture Wisteria beautiful (Wisteria venusta), Wisteria bushy (Wisteria frutescens) and Wisteria macrostachys, from which the American gardeners from Minnesota bred Wisteria Blue Moon, able to winter in the garden even without shelter.


  1. Read about the subject on Wikipedia
  2. Features and other plants of the Legume family
  3. All Species List at The Plant List
  4. More information at World Flora Online