Friday, May 13, 2011


Four year old wisteria on our house. Rather raggedy Tibetan prayer flags in front.
Wisteria tunnel at Antony House, Cornwall
There’s a house just down from the Garden Museum in London’s Lambeth where in April you can smell the wisteria quite a long way before you see it. It is a vast plant, covering three stories of a 19th century house with flower. The scent is really something, especially as it is on an otherwise rather dreary road.
Flowers are produced on old wood.

We are actually rather proud of our wisteria – it is now four years old and has flowered well for the first time. Yet the plant is notorious for not flowering. What happens is that it just grows masses of stems and foliage. Think of wisteria as a temperate zone liana – an immense woody stemmed climber with more in common with tropical Tarzan vines than tame old clematis and honeysuckle. It basically wants to climb to the top of large trees, up to 25m, where it can then flower. On houses, there is rarely the space available for them to develop anything like their full size.
No not our house - worse luck, but Wisteria running up the tower of the Landesmuseum in Zürich - 20-25m high.

Pruning is normally used to restrict size of the plant, and to stimulate flowering, on younger and smaller plants than would happen in nature. You have to be ruthless – in fact I think we have taken off 90% of the plant’s growth over the years.
Restricting the growth of the plant to a framework is crucial to develop a tidy plant and flowering.
Important to cut back all fresh stems from the main stem, otherwise you'll end up with a tangled mess.
Wisteria will twist any vertical support wires around it
So, you need to have an adjustable link to the bottom of any vertical wire supports.


paperkicks said...

Beautiful plant and pictures! In Texas we keep the vines pruned to a small tree, but as you said they do not always flower. That's why I love my native Mountain Laurel. The blossoms look and smell like wisteria, but the sad thing is the blooms come on for about 2 weeks...then they're gone!

ProfessorRoush said...

Wisteria is definately a plant that "grew" on me. Not a lot of it around here and I don't know why because it is a carefree climber in Manhattan Kansas. I've got a 5 year old that has never failed to bloom. You're correct, though, about the pruning. I have it on a 8X8' pergola and it is going to topple the thing unless I get the loppers out soon.

Arina said...

Fantastic....I really love to see wisterias blooming in clusters traling in such a way that makes it look so beautiful and gorgeous. But pity me that wisteria is never found in my country due to the wheather and climate.I used to admire it by looking at magazines and internet surfing. wish I could visit your garden...

Diane at My Cottage Garden said...

Wisteria is so interesting! It's not for our zone here in my part of Canada. You have a lovely blog.

Sandra said...

My first visit to your blog and not my last! I planted a wisteria here in Central Brittany two years ago. We had some flowers the following year and this, this year it was covered in blue/mauve flowers and is growing strongly. I had never realised wisteria were perfumed, but the scent was beautiful when sitting on the terrace. Luckily the weather was good this year and with little wind the blossom lasted longer than it usually would. Sandra

Sunita Mohan said...

That is one show-stopper of a plant, Noel. Do you think it would grow in Mumbai (definitely not temperate but we do go down to 7 - 12*C for a few glorious weeks in Jan-Feb)? I'm just itching to get my hands on a couple of plants and try growing them.

bloggernefa said...

Thank you for showing how to do this. I will try and prune my wisteria like this.

Best regards