Wisteria: The Perfect Plant For Decorating Gardens And Balconies
Wisteria is one of the most beautiful ornamental plants ever, thanks to its fragrant lilac, white or pink flowers, which develop in rich clusters and create a beautiful scenographic effect.
As wisteria is a climbing plant, its most common use is to embellish pergolas, cover columns or railings and adorn arches or gazebos. But, with the appropriate pruning, it can also be grown in the shape of a small tree, although this is slightly detrimental to the flowering.
It needs a lot of space to grow, develop and give its enchanting blooms, but it can also find accommodation in a pot on the terrace or balcony.
The wisteria is a plant native to the East and was brought to Europe by Marco Polo, who kept its seeds as a rarity. Here it found rapid development thanks to its adaptability, becoming one of the characteristic plants of the Mediterranean maquis.
The wisteria is a rustic and vigorous plant and belongs to the Wisteria genus and the Fabacee family.
It is a deciduous climber, which can reach 10-15 metres and needs to be kept under control. In fact, it has a flexible stem that climbs easily on any foothold in the vicinity and, for this reason, during growth, it needs several supports, which will outline its shape.
It blossoms in spring, but when grown in the shade, flowering will be later. It shows very delicate and very perfumed flowers, gathered in hanging clusters, in shades of purple, lilac pink or white.
It has oval and lanceolate, bronzed green leaves, and produces small fruits similar to beans.
There are 10 species and numerous varieties on the market, but the most common are:
- Wisteria Sinensis, called the common wisteria, is native to China. It has a fast growth and in a few years, it can reach even 30 meters in height. It blooms between April and May, and some specimens may show a second flowering in summer.
- Wisteria floribunda, suitable for sapling growth, is native to Japan. It reaches a maximum height of 10 meters and blooms late, between May and June, with pinkish flowers that develop in long clusters.
- The American Wisteria frutescens, on the other hand, grows less vigorous and with a more contained development. It has a light foliage covered by a fine bluish-white down, which gives it a silky appearance and blooms in summer, between June and July.
Cultivation of Wisteria
Wisteria is a relatively easy plant to grow and can be grown both in pots and in the ground.
You have to keep in mind, however, that it is a very vigorous plant, which expands a lot and has very strong roots, which can damage walls or lift floors.
Before planting it, therefore, you should evaluate the space in which you want it to grow, making sure it is spacious enough. In addition, to prevent the roots from causing damage, you can bury a plastic sheet about two meters long by 1 meter deep in the direction in which we do not want them to take root, thus forcing the roots to grow in the direction we decide.
Wisteria is a very strong plant, which adapts to any temperature and is not afraid of cold.
It grows also in the shade, but, in order to have a luxuriant flowering, it is better to choose a sunny position, where it can enjoy at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
The wisteria does not grow well in calcareous or clayey soils and prefers a rich and soft, slightly acidic and well drained soil. A mixture of garden soil and compost is ideal.
Wisteria can be planted all year round, but the best period is autumn, so that the plant has all winter to settle and start producing new roots.
- Get a good specimen from your trusted nurseryman.
- Dig a hole at least 40-50 cm wide and at least 50 cm deep.
- Place a good amount of pebbles and expanded clay on the bottom.
- Arrange the wisteria plant, making sure that the roots are well extended.
- Insert the brace that will support the plant.
- Fill with soil mixed with mature manure and slow release fertilizer.
- Irrigate abundantly.
Watering is very important during the first two years after planting, when the plant needs to be supported. It will be necessary, then, to intervene weekly with an abundant distribution of water, especially in the absence of atmospheric precipitation.
Afterwards, the wisteria is to be watered every 15-20 days, leaving the soil to dry up well every time. During the summer months, it may be necessary to intervene more often, especially if the plant is very developed.
In the first two years, it is good, during the vegetative period, to fertilize the wisteria a couple of times a year with a granular fertilizer with good percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
In the following years, an annual fertilisation can be carried out by decreasing the dose of nitrogen and using a product in which potassium is prevalent.
Pruning the wisteria plant is a fundamental and delicate operation and is carried out in summer and winter.
At the end of winter, when the wisteria has lost all its leaves, all those branches that are about one year old should be shortened, leaving 4-5 buds. Furthermore, the dry, sick or damaged branches and any suckers formed at the base must be removed.
In summer, we proceed to a light pruning, for containing purposes, in order to make the development more orderly and harmonious.
Wisteria is also in the Guinness Book of World Records.
A specimen of the Sierra Madre, in California, at the height of its flowering, has reached 1.5 million buds and has reached a weight of 250 tons, becoming one of the seven vegetable wonders of the world.