Spring Planting: Wonderful Wisteria
Classic Vines Add Fragrance, Color and Romance to Garden Designs
Every spring, I see wisteria blooming on fences and pergolas, and every spring it surprises me all over again. Its twining vines have an ancient freeform look, and those clouds of blossoms add romance to backyard hangouts. Get ready — young plants will be showing up in nurseries in March. Plant as soon as your ground can be worked to give roots time to get settled before summer. Then stand back; your wisteria will be surprising you every spring, too.
California landscape designer Karen Aitken chose Chinese Wisteria for a beautiful cascading effect over this bocce ball court in Morgan Hill. The fact that it grows like a beanstalk can be a plus when looking for quick results in a landscape, Aitken says. But be sure to plant on a separate structure away from roofs and gutters and prune it every year to keep it in bounds. Anyone who has ever had a wisteria will emphasize this point with stories of vines that have taken over lesser porches and trees.
Even without blooms, wisteria leaves soften a pergola, blurring the lines between hardscape and garden. Start from grafted plants vs. seedlings for quicker blooms. Wisteria is best suited to USDA climate zones 5-8. Train new plants by choosing one or a few stems to form a leader and clip off unwanted starts that sprout from the base.
Wisteria's fragrant blooms and twisted, woody vines are all the decoration you need for an outdoor dining room.
Amethyst Falls American Wisteria Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls' This wisteria pushes out fragrant purple blooms repeatedly through late spring and summer on stems that grow up to 10 feet long. All wisterias grow fast, but this one grows slower than Asian varieties, so it could be your pick for smaller areas. More on this variety Photo courtesy of Monrovia
A living roof creates a perfect transition from crisp lawn to lush border.
Wisteria's long life makes it look at home in a classic landscapes.
Fully leafed out in summer and bare in winter, deciduous wisteria allows in just the right light for every time of year.
A natural roof provides just enough sun, just enough shade.
Let new plants establish the basic framework you want, removing wayward streamers in summer before they get tangled up in the main body of the vine.
In Atherton, CA, wisteria fringes a backyard fort atop on old tree stump.
A wisteria vine, pergola and glow of candles warm an outdoor room.
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