Plant Feature Friday: Wisteria

Wisteria (also spelled “Wysteria”) is a perennial flowering vine that is often used to cover patio trellises and adorn facades. This might be plant for you if you are a long-term homeowner with a large, simple exterior wall or a large sturdy patio trellis. Read on to learn more!


In the above image, you can see the premature flower before it expands and opens into a beautiful cascading flower cluster. Some varieties are known to be invasive, so please be aware of this before planting one on your property.

Scientific name: varies, Genus: wisteria

Appearance: Woody vine with alternating foliage and grape-like flower clusters. Flowers can be pink, blue, and/or whitish. 

Height & Purpose: Can grow to 20 feet or more depending on the variety – and often used for exterior facades and patio shading.

Planting: Do not plant near protruding building structures (i.e. gutters, downspouts, light fixtures, and other similar structures) nor within the reach of trees or shrubs. Leave A LOT of space for it to grow – it can grow several feet in a year and should have a very sturdy structure to grow onto.

Plant during the spring or fall in a full sun to light shade location. Dig a wide hole for the root ball and plant in soil that has been amended with some compost. Plant in the early morning or late evening and water to settle the soil around the roots (watering early or late in the day will help avoid sun-induced damage). It is a good idea to add a ring of compost and mulch around the base of the plant in the spring to retain moisture. However, do not pile mulch up against the trunks of woody vines, shrubs, and trees, because this can result in roots growing tightly around the trunks and a strangled plant. Wisteria can be pruned after flowering is over to maintain a manageable size.

Habits: Vigorous perennial vine that can grow quickly and live a long time. If allowed to live for many years, it will grow to have heavy, thick trunks and stems. Due to how the vine twines around objects and its weight, it can damage what it grows on.

Key points: A fragrant, blooming vine that can fill a large vacant exterior wall or can be used to offer living shade over an outdoor space. Requires a very sturdy structure to grow on. May require extensive annual pruning depending on space provided and growth rate. Deer resistant. May be invasive and most are poisonous.

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