Wonderful wisteria: your questions answered

Wisteria across a pergola at National Garden Scheme garden Old Camps in Hampshire

Draped with their multitude of long racemes of white, pink, blue or mauve pea-flowers there is perhaps no more beautiful climber than wisteria. With many National Garden Scheme gardens graced with this romantic plant we wanted to find out more.

What is the origin of wisteria?
Long celebrated in Japan and China where the two best varieties originate from, they were both introduced to the UK in the early 19th Century.

Which are the best varieties for planting in the UK?
Wisteria sinensis from China is probably the most widely grown and popular. It was found in a garden in Canton and introduced to the UK in 1816. The other famous variety is wisteria floribunda from Japan, introduced in 1830. They both have long racemes of lilac mauve flowers that are beautifully fragrant, and both have varieties with white flowers.

Is there anything unusual about wisteria?
Curiously, the steams of wisteria sinensis twine anti-clockwise and the stems of wisteria floribunda twine clockwise.

Is wisteria easy to grow?
Yes. Best grown against a wall or trained onto a pergola or other supporting frame.

When’s the best time to plant it?
Late autumn or spring, but spring for pot-grown only, plant bare-root in the autumn.

What conditions suit it best?
Full sun against a wall in loamy, well-drained soil.

When does wisteria flower?
May is the traditional flowering time in the UK.

When do you prune wisteria?
Prune the long thin green shoots that appear after flowering in July / August. If more drastic control is needed prune larger branches in late winter.

How do you prune wisteria?
With secateurs for late summer control and a pruning saw for larges branches.

How long will it take to grow?
It normally flowers after 3-5 years. Once established it can grow vigorously and needs controlling.

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