The Wisteria tree is well-recognized for the clusters or groups of fragrant purple flowers it tends to bloom every spring. A lot of gardeners are also fond of these unique perennial vines.
Note, though, that this Chinese wisteria tree is a vigorous grower. Left uncontrolled, the growing process may get out of hand. Let’s get to know more about this famous plant and how you can carefully restrain it, tame its aggressive and vigorous growth, and cultivate it through this article.
In This Article
Quick Facts About the Wisteria Tree
Type of plant:
Vine, tree, shrub
Full sun and partial shade
Mature width and height:
8 to 10 feet (width) and 6 to 30 feet (height)
4 to 9 outdoors
Moderate to rapid
Soil type and pH:
Any type; slightly acidic to neutral pH level
Color of flower:
Purple, white, blue
Wisteria Description and a Couple of Physical Features
Wisteria refers to a vining plant with a long lifespan that you can also cultivate into a tree form. It is characterized by its cascade of purple and blue flowers that look stunning especially when they hang from an archway or pergola during the early summer and spring. The blooms or flower could also be white and pink.
It is an aggressive and fast-growing plant, especially if it is in tree form. It can even reach up to 30 feet long and has a heavy weight. You can expect its vines to work their way to all the crooks and crannies, which is why planting and growing it close to your house is not advisable.
As for the Wisteria flowers, you can easily recognize them for being beautifully fragrant. This means that these plants are capable of feeding all your senses. After producing flowers, there is a bean-like and brown pod that will remain on it until the winter season comes.
Expect the blooms to come out only on new growth. To make it easier for you to distinguish the wisteria in tree form from the other plants, here are its common physical features:
The trees wisteria holds clusters of nicely scented and colorful flowers that cascade from the vines. Those flowers are among the most recognizable features of this plant. It has an impressive display of flowers that you can expect to transform into a garden landscape.
It can shower such a landscape with nice colors, including purple, mauve, lilac, white, and pink. Keep in mind, though, that it may take several years for the tree wisteria that you have just planted to burst into bright colors.
You need to establish them in the ground first – after which, they will profusely bloom annually with dangling racemes in the shade of pink, white, and purple. Encourage such blooms annually by making sure that the plant receives 6-hour sunlight every day. Pruning two times annually also helps when it comes to encouraging blooming.
In terms of color, the one that is strongly connected to the flowers that the wisteria blooms is purple. Note, though, that Chinese, American, and Japanese wisterias come with cultivars that hold various pastel hues. Considering that, note that the most common colors you can see in the flowers are lilac, pink, white, and purple-blue.
The tree wisteria also consists of compound leaves that have small, smooth, and glossy green leaflets that are around one to three inches long and a max of an inch wide. Each stem may also have around seven to nineteen leaflets.
One fact about these vining plants that you should be aware of is that they are also deciduous, meaning they tend to drop leaves during the fall season. In most cases, the color of its foliage during this season is bright yellow and bronze with a bit of yellow tint.
Seeds and Fruit
It is highly likely for the flowers of mature plants to have bean-like pods in green to brown containing seeds. The wisteria will also extend from four to six inches long. Expect the mature plants to ripen once the autumn comes, too.
Wisteria Tree Versus Wisteria Vines
In general, the trees wisteria is one species of vining and woody plants that you can prune and train with the goal of growing and forming them into a tree. This means that it is initially a vine. You can just cultivate it so it will turn into a tree, which is a great idea if you want to bask in its great display of colors.
If growing this vining plant into a tree is your goal, then the best thing that you can do is to provide strong support for the primary stem. It is also crucial to prune the side shoots regularly so you can establish an overhanging canopy.
As a tree, the wisteria will turn out to be a small, beautiful, and blooming variety, provided you train it appropriately. It will come with cascading flowers and drooping branches. You can easily grow your wisteria into a tree in USDA zones 4 to 9.
You may also grow small variations in containers. That way, you can enjoy the fragrant lavender or purple flowers as those will form part of your garden collection. The good thing about putting the wisterias in a container is that it can help manage the growing size of the mature plants.
You can also form the wisteria vining plants into bonsai trees, the eye-catching smaller versions of the bigger wisteria tree. You just have to trim the bonsai properly so it can produce small and dangling conical groups of flowers in purple shades.
Types of the Wisteria Vines
When comparing different types of wisterias, your ultimate choice will most likely boil down to aesthetics and availability. In the US, the most popular species that you can grow in your garden are the Japanese wisteria and Chinese wisteria.
Gardeners favor the two because both have showy bloom clusters, powerful fragrances, and various cultivar and color options. Here are the other details of the two types together with the other variations and species of the Wisteria vines.
Also called Wisteria floribunda, this type is capable of growing extensive flower clusters or conical racemes that reach around 2 to 3 ft. long. Their colors vary – among which are deep purple, white, lavender, and blue.
As a deciduous vine, the Japanese wisteria can fill your garden with nice scents. It can also add several pastel colors to your garden. It is also possible for this plant to grow at around 10 to 30 feet while thriving well when cultivated in moderately moist soil and under the full sun.
It can also survive better when grown in USDA zones 4 to 9. Wisteria floribunda in tree form also has green leaves with some hints of the color red. This can turn into brilliant yellow come the fall season.
Moreover, Wisteria floribunda has racemes in various colors, like purple, red-violet, rose-pink, and white blooms. There are even showy versions that display double flowers boasting intense yet pleasant fragrances.
You can also easily identify the silvery-gray vines of this wisteria floribunda because apart from being gnarled, they also turn clockwise. This makes it unique from the Chinese wisteria.
The Chinese wisteria tree is also famous for its other name, Wisteria Sinensis. As its name suggests, this vigorous and strong climbing perennial originated from China. The plant is characterized by its heavily scented and colorful blooms that come out during the summer and spring.
It produces cascading groups of flowers in bluish-purple, pink, white, and violet shades. Expect them to start blooming during the early spring and appear before the foliage. You will also notice the flowers growing up to a length of twelve inches, almost hiding the silver-gray stems of the plant upon full bloom.
As for its foliage, you will notice that it looks like copper or bronze leaflets that turn green once the summer comes. Each leaf is oval-shaped and elongated that can grow around 7 to 13 leaflets.
It can grow perfectly well when exposed to the full sun with a length ranging from 10 to 25 feet. It will also be growing well in moderately fertile soil that has medium moisture. It is hardy enough, so expect it to be drought-tolerant, too.
Also called Wisteria frutescens, this species, which is native to the US, can be expected to thrive really well in several places that are not part of California. These include the Southeastern areas from Texas to Florida.
One can describe the American wisteria as a vigorous and slender climber capable of winding counterclockwise while producing aromatic and large racemes of eye-catching white or purple blooms. It has hanging conical clusters capable of achieving growth of a max of 6-inch long. It tends to bloom from April to May once the foliage emerges.
The American Wisteria can survive well in 5 to 9 USDA zones. It is drought-tolerant and has tall and climbing stems that can grow as high as 15 to 40 feet whether you expose it to partial shade or full sun. However, note that this plant will only produce the most impressive blooms if you are constantly growing it in moist soil and full sunlight.
Compared to the Japanese and Chinese wisterias, the American variation is not as aggressive. It is just as beautiful as the mentioned species but it still grows at a slower pace, preventing it from overtaking your garden.
You can also immediately tell that you have the native American wisteria because of its distinguishable pods that are smooth and bean-like. As for the Japanese and Chinese wisteria, such pods are either velvety or fuzzy.
The Perfect Time to Plant the Wisteria
The perfect time for planting the Wisteria tree is during the early spring or fall. It is the specific time when this plant becomes dormant, causing it to suffer minimal stress when you replant it. You will also have an easier time caring for wisteria in a container if you plant it on the ground then transfer it during dormancy.
Where Should You Plant Wisteria?
The perfect place where you can plant the Wisteria is one that exposes it to the full sun while being in a West-facing or South-facing wall. This specific spot can help the flowers come out regularly.
Pick a spot that has fertile and moist soil, too. It also needs to be well-drained while having added compost. Also, note that once the wisteria plant is already established, it will become a perennial vining variety guaranteed to be drought-tolerant.
Also, note that this vining plant is sturdy and robust, making it capable of growing for several years. It makes it necessary for you to pick a spot where it will have strong support for its huge vines and colorful flowers.
Planting the wisteria plant in a container is also possible. Note, though, that potted wisteria will most likely have a restricted size due to its container. That said, it would be best to enjoy the plant’s colorful clusters of dangling flowers in a garden, even if it is just small and compact.
How to Plant and Care for the Wisteria?
Planting the wisteria tree typically involves digging a hole with a similar depth to its root ball. The hole also has to be two times the root ball’s diameter. Put the plant there, making sure that you set it straight.
After that, start backfilling the hole. Water it every several inches to avoid the formation of air pockets. After completely filling the hole, pat the soil down lightly.
When you dig a hole and add the plants into it, ensure that there is enough space in between each one. There should be a minimum of ten to fifteen feet of space apart together with the support system since it has vines that may quickly overpower each other.
Also, note that the care and maintenance of the wisteria plants require focus on the following areas:
Just like what was indicated earlier, the wisteria, whether in vine or tree form, can flourish if you expose it to full sunlight. Giving it a minimum of six hours of sunlight daily will surely help it produce more beautiful blooms.
In terms of water, these vines require only a moderate amount. The water should just be enough to build and establish a strong and sturdy root system. It is capable of tolerating drought for a short period so a moderate amount of water is enough.
Overwatering is also bad for its growth. An excessive amount of water, especially if it comes with the application of fertilizer rich in nitrogen, may only stop the flowers from blossoming. The reason is that this may cause the plant to develop a higher amount of foliage.
The presence of excessive amounts of nutrients may cause the soil to become basic or acidic. The result would be serious issues with the plant, like chlorosis, especially if you cultivate it in alkaline soil.
The wisteria vines and trees favor loamy soil with just the right amount of nutrition. You also have to remember that this vining plant grows more healthily when cultivated in porous soils. It should be porous enough that it can retain sufficient moisture while still having excellent draining capabilities.
What is great about the wisteria is that there is a guarantee that it is indeed aggressive and known for being fast-growing. With that, you no longer have to fertilize it regularly. Even with that fact, it is still crucial to check the nutrition content of the soil just to be one hundred percent sure.
When it comes to the application of fertilizer, you should remember that those high in nitrogen may lead to the better growth of foliage but it can stop the plant from flowering. If you want your wisteria to produce more flowers, then it helps to use fertilizers rich in phosphorus, instead.
Wisteria vine propagation using seeds is not highly advisable since it often takes up to fifteen years for this plant species to bloom. If you need to propagate, then you may want to do so through grafting or by planting cuttings.
You may want to add root hormones as such can support the quicker development of roots during propagation. Avoid underwatering the plant as it may only cause the root system to become shallow. Give a sufficient amount of water during propagation to help the plant in creating a well-established root system.
Another crucial part of wisteria tree maintenance is pruning. This involves the prompt removal of branches that tend to grow low. Do the removal from the tree’s base as a means of stimulating the primary stem to grow.
While the wisteria tree is growing, take out lower shoots so you can retain its tree form. This means that every new growth that may occur should be on top.
It is also crucial to prune the topmost part of the tree regularly. That way, you can prevent the whole plant from becoming too heavy or taking over your entire garden. The best time to prune would be during the early spring.
Wisteria Blooming Tips
When it comes to growing the wisteria, patience is actually the key. The reason is that it may take a long time, years even, for this plant to mature and turn into an established tree that can start to produce nice flowers.
Some gardeners even feel frustrated upon noticing that their wisteria did not bloom even when the first season after they planted it has passed. While you may have to wait a bit for young plants to produce flower, note that lack of flowers may also be caused by other factors – among which are the following:
Flower bud injury due to extreme exposure to frost
Applying excessive amounts of fertilizer
If you think that your wisteria does not produce flowers because of other factors, then you can encourage an abundance of flowers and blooms through these additional tips:
Do not buy a wisteria cultivated and grown from seeds
Note that plants that grow from seeds will most likely stay in the juvenile stage for a long time. If possible, buy propagated or grafted wisteria from cuttings. It should also come from a trusted bloomer.
Choose to grow Kentucky or American Wisteria
This is a great tip if your goal is to make the flower buds less prone to getting frost damage. The reason is that these species can be expected to develop buds based on the growth of the present season.
Avoid fertilizing or overwatering already established vines
The reason is that you also have to make the wisteria tree go through even slight stress so it can force the process of developing flower buds. Applying fertilizers rich in nitrogen or overwatering the vines may only cause the production of leaves to become excessive. This may compromise the plant’s flowering capabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where do wisteria trees grow best?
You can expect your wisteria tree to grow at its best if you pick a location for it that is not close to other plants. The reason is that it is fast-growing, which may cause it to overtake its neighboring plants easily.
Wisteria tree also tends to grow well into and onto nearby structures, like sheds, garages, and houses, among others. Avoid planting it very close to your house, though.
As for its vines, keep in mind that they need a highly durable structure where they can climb. This makes it necessary to have a wooden or metal trellis or pergola when growing the wisteria vines.
What is the difference between a wisteria vine and a wisteria in tree form?
Wisteria is actually a woody vining plant species that you can train and prune so it can grow into a tree. This means that this plant species is categorized as a vine first. You can then cultivate and grow it into a wisteria tree so you can show off the amazing display of colors from its cascading racemes without requiring the support of a huge vine.
If you plan to grow your Wisteria into a tree, then ensure that there is adequate support for the main stem. Prune the side shoots regularly, too, as doing so can help in creating an overhanging canopy.
Are Wisteria trees easy to grow?
Yes, growing Wisteria trees is easy as they can quickly adapt to various types of soil. They can also tolerate a lot of things, like drought and deer, and resist some diseases. You just have to constantly monitor the rapid and vigorous growth of the wisteria tree.
Is Wisteria poisonous to touch?
Yes, the wisteria tree is poisonous/toxic, though this is only mild. It is particularly toxic to dogs and cats. Each part of the Wisteria, especially the seed, is toxic, so you have to be extra careful when handling it.
The accidental ingestion of some of the tree’s seeds may cause vomiting, mild abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Growing and cultivating a wisteria tree is definitely a great decision especially if you love to witness the stunning beauty of this plant species. It is an incredible choice as it provides a beautiful display of flowers with a distinguishable fragrance without taking over your whole garden.