How is your garden looking as we head towards spring? I’ve still got plenty to do in mine, general clearing and there’s still well-rotted manure to spread over the soil, before everything starts growing. Pruning wisteria is one of those jobs that needs doing in February, and because it’s good to have a decent explanation, I thought I’d give it a post all of its’ own.
First of all it’s a big plant, it can reach up to 10m/30ft, but don’t be put off, if you have good, well-drained soil, enough space on a sunny wall, or a sturdy pergola, then give it a go because it is such a beautiful plant.
It’s beauty does demand some attention in return, especially for the first three years of it’s life when it’s developing and the stems need tying in. This is really worth doing, because it sets up the shape for the rest of its’ long life. After that it needs pruning twice a year to form a structure of main stem and side-shoots, left to it’s own devices it’lll end up in a tangle and head-off into the gutters.
How to prune wisteria:
Cut those long whippy shoots that wave around just above a leaf, shortening the stem so that only six/seven buds are left, in June or July.
This lets light in and reduces the growth, letting the plant put its’ energy into making flowers for next year, rather than producing lots of leaves.
Leave some of the long stems on a new plant and tie them in to form branches.
This is done in January or February, it’s dormant and leafless so it’s easy to see exactly what you’re doing. Cut back the side-shoots leaving two/three buds, any shoots at the base of the plant can also be cut right back to give a clear main stem.
Grafted plants are more likely to flower than ones grown from seed, you’ll see a bulge at the base where a plant has been grafted onto a root-stock.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommend the following types of wisteria:
Wisteria floribunda/ Japanese wisteria, flowers at the same time as the leaves:
- Wisteria floribunda Alba, 60cm/2ft long flower clusters (racemes)
- Wisteria floribunda Kuchi benii, purple tipped mauve-pink flowers, 35cm/14in long racemes
Wisteria sinensis/ Chinese wisteria, the flowers appear before the leaves, good for pergolas where they can hang down.
- Wisteria sinensis Amethyst, violet-blue flowers, 30cm/12in long.
- Wisteria sinensis Prolific. lilac-blue flowers, often flowers from an early age.
- Wisteria brachybotris Showa-beni, pink flowers
- Wisteria Burford, lilac, blue/purple flowers, 90cm long.
I’m thinking about growing a wisteria on a post, I haven’t got space for a conventional one. Apparently it’s easy, though it takes three or four years.
You start with a plant that has a single stem and wind it round a post as it grows, all the side-shoots are removed, and the top growth is pruned in the usual way, nice isn’t it?
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.