Introduced to Western gardens in 1816, this native of China is a rampant, hardy, deciduous woody vine that blooms showily in late spring with long hanging clusters of lightly fragrant pea-like flowers in lilac-purple or white, followed by hanging velvety green pods. The flowers open in unison, providing a spectacular display. The bright green pinnate leaves usually have 11 leaflets. This massive twiner can literally cover acres if allowed to romp freely. There are many cultivars, including white-flowered ‘Alba’ and the floriferous ‘Prolific.’
This wisteria, like others, grows and blooms best in full sun and well-drained soil, and sometimes takes several years to flower. Soil that is too rich in nitrogen may promote leafage at the expense of flowers. Large and vigorous, Chinese wisteria needs a sturdy structure for support and pruning to keep it in bounds. It can be trained as a small tree by staking a shoot upright, removing side shoots and restraining the top shoots by pruning for several years until the stem is self-supporting. It is listed as invasive in several areas including the eastern United States.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained, deep, moist soil.
Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 10 to 15 feet apart. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you’ve removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don’t amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.
Apply a layer of compost under the plant each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. To control growth and encourage flowering, prune wisteria after flowering in early summer by cutting side shoots that arise from main stems back to 6 inches. In fall, shorten these same laterals back to 2 to 4 buds. Remove shoots arising from the base of the plant as soon as they appear.