Wisteria Vine – If You Dare

Wisteria vine is like a wild animal – kept under control it is a beast to be marveled at, but allowed to run free and it will threaten the peace & order that your garden once had.

My intention is not to scare you, but warn you that if you’re considering using Wisteria vine be prepared to spend time & energy keeping this plant in check with routine pruning.

The pictures below are of a Wisteria vine that has been growing on the spindles of a deck for 15 years. You might be admiring the way the stem of the vine has wound its way around the spindles to display a beautiful coexistence between nature and man-made structure.

But look closely at the first picture and you’ll see the outstretched branches of new growth just looking for something to grab onto. What makes this so scary is that this new growth is only 10-14 days old.

The second picture shows what the Wisteria looked like after a good “selective pruning.” Can you imagine what this vine would do if left unpruned for a month or two? How about a whole season?…Aaaahhhhh!

Pruning Wisteria

I find I have to prune Wisteria vine a few times during the summer to keep it in check – at least in the applications that I use the vine. Perhaps if you had it in a more open situation where it could “ramble” more, you might prune it less often.

Also, winter is a great opportunity to do more structural pruning. Wisteria vine has a tendency to get very dense with side-shoots, especially if you’re pruning it regularly during the summer.

In winter, with the leaves off, you can really see the general framework of the vine. Take this opportunity to prune out the excess side-shoots and just keep the basic framework. Believe me, Wisteria vine will come back “gang-busters” in the spring, and you’ll probably wish you had cut it back even more.

For contractors: This is a plant you’re going to have to keep after. Take advantage of this winter pruning time (when you’re not busy) and take the time to prune them all really well. You’ll be glad you did and your customer will really appreciate the professionalism.


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