A high-climbing vine, wisteria blooms vigorously in spring with large, drooping clusters of lilac or bluish-purple flowers. Here’s how to plant, grow, and care for wisteria in your garden!
Wisteria is a long-lived vining plant with cascades of blue to purple flowers that look spectacular hanging from a pergola or archway in spring and early summer. However, this vine is a fast and aggressive grower—often reaching 30+ feet long—and is known to grow quite heavy. Wisteria vines will work their way into any crook or cranny they can reach, so it’s advised to not plant them too near to your home.
Wisteria flowers are beautifully fragrant, providing a feast for the senses. After flowering, a brown, bean-like pod stays on the plant until winter. Blooms only appear on new growth.
Note: Plant wisteria with caution! All parts of the wisteria plant contain substances called lectin and wisterin, which are toxic to pets, livestock, and humans. These toxins can cause anything from nausea and diarrhea to death if consumed in large amounts.
IS WISTERIA AN INVASIVE PLANT?
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) are not native to North America and are considered invasive species in some states. The native wisteria species, American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) and Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya), are great alternatives to the Asian species, so if you’re planning on adding a new wisteria to your garden, we suggest that you go with one of the North American species.
WHERE TO PLANT WISTERIA
- Plant in full sun. Though wisteria will grow in partial shade, it probably won’t flower. Sunlight is essential.
- Plant wisteria in fertile, moist, but well-draining soil.
- If your soil is in poor condition, add compost; otherwise, wisteria will grow in most soils.
- Choose a site away from other plants, as wisteria grows quickly and can easily overtake its neighbors.
- Wisteria is also known for growing onto (and into) nearby structures, such as houses, garages, sheds, and so on. We strongly recommend not planting wisteria too close to your home!
- Wisteria vines require a very sturdy structure to climb on, such as a metal or wooden trellis or pergola. Mature plants have been known to get so heavy that they break their supports, so plan with care and build your structure with hefty materials.