Chinese wisteria is a very attractive vine that has a distinctly Asian look to it and will grace your garden with its long lavender flower spikes in the spring and will get your garden on first thing as the temperature warms up. You can let it climb up a fence, train it as a tree, or best yet, train it up an arbor or gazebo. One of our favorites for looks.
Wisteria can be trained into a stunning tree by training it up a strong pole, but I prefer to plant it out (at year 3) freestanding and train to grow “up” by selective pruning. This practice makes stronger and thicker trunks quicker than letting it get top heavy and flopping in the breeze. If wanting to vine up something, just plant out next to whatever and it will do the work. Pruning lower branches throughout the year keep things tidy.
Common name: Chinese Wisteria
Botanical name: Wisteria chinensis
Type: Deciduous woody climbing vine.
Scarification/Stratification: Rub seed edge (not connecting scar side) on medium grit sandpaper to compromise seed shell, then drop in warm tap water and let sit for 12 hours and sow warm.
Sow temp/season: Early spring if direct seeded, mid spring if scarified.
Sow depth/spacing: 1-2 inches deep and spaced at one seed per 6 inches if field raising.
Germination time: If scarified, two weeks. If direct sowing, a couple of weeks of 70+ nights.
Final spacing: It depends…
Final height/spread: Can climb an 80 foot tree or be trained as bonsai. However you train it.
pH range: 5.5-6.8
Soil type: Any well drained soil.
Root type: Lots of thick surface roots and some deep tap roots.
Nutrition Since Wisteria is a Nitrogen fixer, any low N feed is good. Compost is all that is required to keep it happy. After a few years, one can encourage flowering by blasting the plant with fish bone meal, bat guano, or any other high Phosphorous fertilizer.
Drainage: Does not like wet feet.
Water requirement: A deep watering every other week during growth once established in the ground. If held in a container, as often as needed.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Time to maturity: Will flower after it breaks its vegetative state, which can take up to 7 years depending on its treatment. Raising them in pots seems to help as well as feeding high P and K fertilizers.
Hilling: None needed, but planting out in a raised bed or hills keeps crown dry, which is helpful.
Suckering: Wisteria sends out underground runners that are laden with eyes that will send up new shoots if not cut back. Will branch like a tree if grown freestanding.
Propagation: Sow seed in minimum of 6” deep pots and quickly snip tap root which will set up plant for life in a pot. Plant up into larger pots until one reaches a 3 gallon pot at year 3. Constantly trimming roots that protrude from drainage holes will keep root system healthy and encourage flowering. One can take 7 inch hardwood cuttings in mid winter with rooting hormones and bottom heat.
Hybridization: Plant different varieties ¼ mile apart to ensure genetic purity if one intends on saving true seed. Wisteria is self fertile.