How to Grow and Care for Wisteria

These purple-blue hued plants smell fantastic.

Close up of wisteria flowers blooming in spring
Photo: Getty / Natalia Ganelin

A high-climbing, fast-growing vine with purple and blue blooms, wisteria is a gorgeous addition to any garden. There are actually two species of the plant commonly grown in America: Wisteria floribunda or "Japanese wisteria" and Wisteria sinensis or "Chinese wisteria." Both feature twining vines, pea-like highly fragrant flowers, and are aggressive growers. But take note, both species of the plant need careful tending to. Left unchecked, vines can grow 10 feet a season—all of it foliage and none of it bloom. But don't give up if your plant takes time to flower. Most wisterias take around five to seven years until they begin to bloom, according to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).

How to Grow It

Plant wisteria in a fertile, sunny location, supplying a sturdy structure like a trellis or pergola on which the vines can climb. Be sure to place the plant somewhat away from nearby flowers as they've been known to overtake their neighbors.

We recommend applying superphosphate—to help with root growth—to the bottom of the pot. As for fertilizer, regular application is not necessary. In fact, it encourages leaf growth while discouraging flowering—which will not aid in producing the plant's signature blue-purple blooms. Take care when fertilizing grass or other plants nearby, as a nitrogen boost can knock the wisteria out of bloom.

How to Care for It

With its bold, scented flowers, wisteria is best cared for with careful pruning—a process that should be executed three times a year. Prune your wisteria after it blooms, again in late summer, and one final time in winter or early spring. Don't hesitate to prune heavily, since it is key to controlling the plant's growth. "Once the basic framework of the wisteria plant is established, the aim of pruning is to control extension growth and to encourage the production of lateral flowering spurs," writes Anita Finkle, plant information specialist at NYBG.

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