Wisteria Is A Cottage Garden Classic

Don't be daunted by wisteria

by Garden News |

Wisteria is one of those plants that has become part of the UK’s popular culture, a symbol of the classic country garden and which quintessentially adorns many house fronts with a frothy display of beautiful, cascading blooms in late spring. There are 10 species, but Japanese Wisteria floribunda and Chinese W. sinensis are robust examples of the most commonly available. Interestingly, they each twine up supports in different directions – Chinese wisteria anti-clockwise and Japanese clockwise.

Wisteria can seem a big commitment and daunting to grow, but to start yours off growing well, try a grafted plant grown on a strong rootstock – you can tell it’s grafted stock due to the evident bulge on the stem. Seed-raised wisteria can take longer than you want to flower, often 15 years or more.

Wisteria is most commonly grown up the front or back of a house, and a healthy one can loom at 20m (60ft) or more up a wall, but it can also be grown prettily through a tree or even as a specimen in a container.

Caring for wisteria

Ensure your wisteria is sited in full sun, though some shade is fine. Prune it well twice a year to keep it flowering. In late summer, cut back whippy new shoots to five leaves after flowering to encourage more flower buds. Then six months later, in January or February, give the same stems a tidying trim down to three buds. Site new plants in rich soil with strong supports to cling to, either horizontal wire supports or a pergola. Continually water new plants well.

To keep them happy in pots, use a loam compost such as John Innes No 3. For extra flowers, feed with a liquid tomato feed.

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