Wouldn’t you love to create an outdoor garden room with living walls and ceiling? You can with wisteria. Wisteria is a luxuriant vining shrub that will help you create what might be considered the epitome of “living” rooms.
Wisteria are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9 depending on the variety. There are three different species of wisteria relative to where they originated. Those native to Japan (Wisteria floribunda) are the hardiest but the least common here in the U.S. Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sineses) is more common because of its lovely flowering habit. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens and Wisteria macrostachya) does not grow as rampantly as the Asian species, making them easier to tame and train.
Wisteria’s fragrant blooms present in an array of whites, pinks, blues, and purples. The blooms droop in beautiful, heavy laden clusters. Its sturdy vines can be trained to transform into a small, languid-looking tree that adds a touch of classic beauty to the landscape. The vines can also be shaped into delightful lollipop trees. This eye candy is sure to please, especially when in full bloom. If left to vine, wisteria can drape and canopy according to your every whim.
How to Grow and Care for Wisteria
Wisteria will grow well in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. It loves the sun so much that it might not bloom without it, so make sure to plant your wisteria in a bright, sunny location. Place your wisteria plants 10 ft apart, and plan on providing an arbor or a trellis for the vines to trail on.
Wisteria plants require a lot of water, so for drought prone regions, be prepared to provide your shrub with plenty to drink. They will need an inch of water each week.
Feed the soil around your wisteria with 2 inches of compost each spring. Scratch some bone meal in with the compost. In the fall, amend some phosphate rock into the soil around your wisteria.
Wisteria are fast growing plants, but you may have to wait several years for them to bloom. In the meantime, you will want to practice up on pruning. The secret behind wisteria’s fragrant blossoms is in the pruning.
For the most blooms, cut back the shoots every two weeks during the growing season. This will help the plant focus energy on blooming rather than on foliage and trailing vines. In late winter, prune back at least half of the previous year’s growth, but leave a few buds per stem. For a more formal appearance to your wisteria, prune again in the summer after the blooming is completed.
Pests and Problems
Wisteria has a reputation for growing a bit out of hand. It grows rampantly and is known for smothering its neighbors and clogging up gutters. To really enjoy your wisteria, be sure you are able to commit to the time it will require to prune it and train it.
Also, the wisteria plant is known as a poisonous plant to humans, cats, dogs, and horses. If your children or pets are allowed to chew on the vine, the leaves, or the flowers, they will probably experience indigestion and even vomiting. The seeds pack a poisonous punch as well, so take extra precaution with this plant.
The wisteria is a strong plant, but it is susceptible to several different insect pests. If an infestation occurs, it is best to treat your wisteria with an insecticide.
Varieties to Try
When you are ready to select a variety of wisteria for your garden project, it’s advisable to check with your local extension office. A few varieties are considered invasive pests in some regions, so you want to avoid those. Your local nursery is probably savvy to which types are appropriate to sell and plant.
‘Amethyst Falls’ is also known as American Wisteria. It is smaller than its Asian cousins, and it is more manageable. It blooms in shades of purple.
‘Blue Moon’ is a hardy wisteria that is capable of blooming once during the spring and again later in summer. Double your pleasure with these silvery blue blossoms!
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