I get asked about Wisteria, a lot.
It is certainly a feature of many of our Private Clients Houses or gardens.
Either growing up the house, or featured elsewhere in the gardens. I usually see one in every larger garden, or adorning an old Manor or Hall.
So they are a topic of discussion on a regular occasion, so I thought I would jot down some of the common answers to the questions I get asked the most.
Before that, some basics first.
W. floribunda (Japanese wisteria) twines clockwise.
W. sinensis (Chinese wisteria) twines counter clockwise.
Big, beautiful, impressive and stunning scent & flowers. Wisterias. I love working on them.
Reaching up to 10 Metres in height, and spreading out to around 20 Metres when Mature. They can wrap a house in growth, flowers and fragrance. They require a fair amount of time from a Gardener a few times a year; their show or display is worth the time spent on them though. Spring and sometimes Summer flowering, from spring till Autumn they stull look lovey; in bloom or not.
They can be unruly if left to their own devices. They will find the roof, the guttering and any other cable or external fixing , also old pieces of trellis, wire or string they can, to climb for the sun and then; spread out in all the places you don’t want them doing that! Once in and underneath tiles and guttering, breaking them as the vines grow and swell, pulling out satellite cables or other electrical wires for lighting for example.
Wisteria is fast growing, it isn’t always the fastest flowering though!
Mature Wisteria flowers, immature Wisteria do not. It can take a Wisteria Seed Decades to grow and come into bloom.
Cuttings can be taken from some mature Wisteria Species, which will speed up the process, but cutting can take time, success rates for striking can vary and you still end up with a juvenile sized sapling; they take time regardless. Which is why they are prized, desired and expensive.
Wisteria don’t come cheap.
If you want their show and for it to be at it’s best; it will take time and money.
- Pruned Twice Annually.
- Training, wiring and removing unwanted vines or foliage.
- Root feeding and Foliar feeding.
- (Avoid Nitrogen, Wisteria can fix Nitrogen issues.)
- Mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen.
- Watering. (Some Drought training can help Wisteria Mature.)
SOTG’ Optimal Method.
Plant a few Nursery bought stock if you want a large spread quickly.
Space them out evenly every 10 or 15 Metres.
1 per space will suffice, though I prefer to double up and plant 1 named Cultivar and a standard Wisteria together; 10 Metres apart. A mixture and smaller trees initially give you more of a visual display and more to enjoy as they mature and grow through each other. Forming a helix of vines leading to a massed diverse canopy of foliage & then the mixed spectacular racemes and perfumes.
Tend them well. (& you will then be able to farm or harvest Cuttings, Layers & Seeds.)
5 Years will fly by and then, they will put on a show for you.
The next 10 years will be spent wrapping themselves around the house or desired location.
Then they will take your breath away.
How do we train them?
- We deploy 3 types of ladders when dealing with Wisteria.
- Including the use of a set that are over 10 Metres tall.
- Or the use of Orchard ladders, which are 5 Metres tall.
- Then a small set for the lower trunk and training.
- Secateurs, Loppers, a Chainsaw & Long reach Pruner.
Wisteria is mostly trained using a quality pair of Secateurs, the Lead Gardener uses a pair of Felco Secateurs.
We also use a combination of Loppers:
Or Long reach pruning tools from Wolf Garten; such as their Multi Change Adjustable Anvil Tree Lopper and Pruner Head & 3M Extending Pole.
Wisteria can be fiddly, so chasing through it to clean it up, prune the vines and wire the ones in that are required. Can take all day. Working at height and often in windy conditions. So it is not a task for the faint hearted.
Sometimes though, when the Wisteria has been allowed to run riot, or needs seriously taming. A small Electric Battery chainsaw will be used to fix the situation.
Or working with the long reach pole from the ground can take some effort.
It’s very strenuous work on your arms and back, also very technical; while swinging a bladed tool around near windows or other building work that could be damaged.
We have to reduce vine lengths down to stop encroachment, and also so the tree and flowers; stay in shape. Then train in new vines and secure them with wires or strings. The damage Wisteria can cause if left to run for the sun; can be costly.
Pruning the correct number of buds down to ensure new growth and flowering is the main focus though.
It is a lot of up and down work, and while having to remain highly focussed.
The results are always worth it.
They tend to be shaped to the house or space on the house they have been previously grown and trained in. Though often we are asked to increase their spread, reach and foot print. Or we tailor their training to suit our Clients requests.
To encourage solid healthy growth, we feed them when required, and also increase their foliage and growth as well as immune system, and to discourage pests; we foliar spray with natural products every few weeks while the canopy is out. Using a mix of Epsom Salts and Seaweed extract.
Feeding is done usually by a Mist Blower, which is like a Leaf Blower but has a Liquid chamber to generate a mist. We mix which ever feed we require into the liquid chamber, then start the machine up and mist right up to the full height of the Wisteria in this case.
A healthy and happy Wisteria; is one that constantly needs training & admiring!