Wisteria is a genus of flower plants. It is part of the Fabaceae family of plants. They call it Glycine in French, and Zi Teng in Chinese. Wisteria has a twining stem that helps it climb. Some species twine clockwise while others do it counterclockwise. Wisteria leaves are alternate and pinnate 9 to 19 leaflets. They flower in spring, but some Asian species flower in the summer. After flowering, they produce seed pods. All parts of the plant contain saponin and are poisonous.
Thomas Nutall (1786-1859), the English botanist, named the genus Wisteria after Caspar Wistar (1786-1818), an American physician.
Wisteria is a beautiful climber, a deciduous vine. It is well-known for its drooping clusters of beautiful purple, pink, or violet flowers. There is also a white flowering species. Wisteria can be trained to be a tree. They usually grow up to 16ft or 5m but some grow even taller, much much taller up to 66ft or 22m.
Did you know there is a Wisteria plant in California Sierra Madre that is known as the largest in the world it covers 1 acre!
Wisteria is native to the Eastern United States as well as Western Asia, Japan, China, and Korea. In fact. Wisteria flower is one of the flowers depicted in many Asian paintings and artwork, even embroideries, vases, and sculptures.
Selection of Wisteria species:
Wisteria species include Japanese Wisteria, Chinese Wisteria, and Silky Wisteria, which have more bluish flowers. The most popular Wisteria is a purple flowering plant that grows very tall, called Wisteria sinensis. It is hardy. It has mauve flowers. This species has fragrant flowers.
Another popular species is Wisteria floribunda. It has very long racemes. Wisteria Sinensis has two varieties one Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’ which has white flowers, and Wisteria sinensis ‘Plena’ with double mauve flowers. There are other species with white flowers such as Wisteria venusta.
Some of the species of Wisteria have popular names as well such as the Wisteria floribunda is known as Japanese Wisteria, the Wisteria frutescens is called the American Wisteria, the Wisteria macrostachya is known as Kentucky Wisteria, the Wisteria sinensis is the Chinese Wisteria and Wisteria venusta is the Silky Wisteria. Wisteria Sinensis is very hardy and fast-growing, it does not require rich soil but usually, does well in richer soil.
How to grow Wisteria:
They do best in a sunny location and fairly rich soil and they can grow to 30′ feet tall. They are fragrant and create a visual spectacle. If the soil is too alkaline then you can add iron. Pruning can help flowering.
Many times you see Wisteria growing over trees creating a beautiful display of flowers. Wisteria usually blooms in May or June. Some varieties rebloom in the summer.
You can propagate Wisterias through cuttings and seeds, but if you choose seeds it could take decades for them to grow and bloom. Some gardeners do grafts and get the Wisteria to bloom. Also be careful with fertilizers, over-fertilizing the Wisteria can also stop it from blooming. It loves phosphate and potassium but not nitrogen. Avoid nitrogen fertilizers during the growing season or in general.
Wisteria does not bloom until it reaches maturity and in some species that could be almost twenty years. Sometimes you can do root pruning expose it to drought to artificially age the plant so it starts blooming. The blossoms are usually near last year’s growth so in spring you might want to prune back some of the new growth so you can better view the blossoms when it is time. If you have a fence a pergola or any kind of structure in your garden or deck then this is a great choice.