How to Grow and Care for Your Wisteria Vine

How to Grow and Care for Your Wisteria Vine
Wisteria is one of the most beautiful climbing vine plants, with a growth span that can reach up to thirty feet high and be trained to grow up the side of a house provided there is a tree near the house to support the vines. The woody plant was named after Daniel Wister, an eighteenth century Quaker, who first noticed this vine that has either purple, white, or pink hanging bunches of flowers while on a voyage aboard the "Empress of China" bound for Asia.(1) Also known as Chinese wisteria, this bush is easy to grow from a young bush but requires special attention with regards to pruning in order to prevent overgrowth.

After you purchase a young wisteria vine, consider where in your yard you want to plant it. Ideally, the vine should be planted near a tree with a strong trunk and lower branches. Many people aim for having the wisteria vine twine around a considerably thick lower branch so the bunches of flowers can hang freely. Wisteria can also be trained to grow on the roof of a covered porch. Having the wisteria vine planted near your garden by the house will add a beautiful accent, creating an outdoor room like feel with a ceiling of wisteria flowers above your head. Make sure the area the wisteria will be planted in has at least six hours of full sunlight. Once you have your spot marked out, prepare the ground for planting the vine. Keep in mind that once the wisteria vine is planted, it is best left there during its lifetime duration for it may not take in another spot if it is uprooted and transplanted elsewhere in your yard.(2)

Using a yardstick or workman's tape measure, mark out a circle that is two to three feet in diameter where the wisteria is to be planted . Using a shovel, turn over the soil inside of the circle, making sure you can reach down at least 18" deep. The wisteria vine roots require soil that is well drained and allows circulation for the tree to take root well. Mix in peat moss or compost. The compost can be homemade from old leaves, grass clippings, used coffee grains, and eggshells. The compost will help the water drain when you go to water your vine each week. If you purchased the wisteria vine with its roots wrapped up in a ball, set the rooted ball in the ground, remove the string or rope used to tie the roots with, and cover loosely with the soil. Pack the soil firmly at the top. The wisteria vine will grow up a tree trunk by twisting on its own and make its way along the first branches.(3)

Once your planted wisteria starts to grow, the fun part is watching how it extends along the tree's branches. The vine grows a maximum length of ten feet per year so it is a good idea to keep an eye on its growth, helping to adjust the vine by gently untwisting it then hooking it against another branch if you want it to grow a certain way. The vines will continue to grow, so pruning the wisteria is necessary. The best time of the year to prune wisteria is during the fall season. Using a pair of garden clippers, trim back any parts of the vine that look heavy in certain areas. The parts that are trimmed will flower profusely the following spring season.(4)

Wisteria is vulnerable to the black vine weevil, which can be easily controlled through the use of a pesticide. Look for signs of crown gall, leaf spots, and powdery mildew on the leaves of the wisteria. These diseases can inhibit a healthy growth of the vine and spring blossoms. Any plant disease killer can be purchased through your local nursery to prevent leaf spots and mildew. For the crown gall, however, the common cure is to cut away the diseased growth with a sharp knife such as a jackknife. The bacteria that causes crown gall remains in the soil and will infect any kind of vine or tree planted in that spot. Crown gall looks like a nubbly yellowish growth on the main vine. Once the crown gall is cut away from the vine, apply a layer of tree surgeons paint to heal the wound.(5)

Water your wisteria plant once a week. This vine tolerated dry conditions when circumstances arise. Butterflies will be attracted by the flowers on the vine so if you like ornamental bushes and vines in your butterfly garden, wisteria is a perfect addition. The only precaution that should be taken with wisteria is that its seeds, and the vine and flowers, are toxic so avoid ingesting any part of the vine.
There is a nice article in wikipedia covering general information about wisteria Vine