The Q&A Archives: Wilting Scarlet Wisterias

Question: I have 2 trees I was told were "scarlet wisteria". They were grown from seed outdoors, and are about 4' tall and in pots. I've just put them in bigger pots but they are wilting and looking sad. How do I care for a "scarlet wisteria" in this state to keep it from dying? I thought pots were a good choice because every year I've left the trees outside in the ground they've died presumably from the cold weather. A few new trees spring up each year in a spot where a mature scarlet wisteria tree once grew and dropped seed pods - I want to succesfully care for these new trees before I run out of chances!

Answer: It sounds like your plants are reacting to being transplanted and I suspect their pouting is just temporary. If a mature Scarlet Wisteria once grew on site, then the little seedlings should be hardy enough to winter over outdoors without problem. If they're dying over the winter months, it could be that they're in soil that remains too wet for their liking.

Sesbania tripetii, the Scarlet Wisteria Tree, is native to Argentina. It is neither a wisteria nor a tree, and the flower color is more burnt orange than scarlet, so I wonder where it got its common name! These are not long-lived plants but they are quite adapted to growing in containers.

Give your transplanted seedlings a chance to recover over the next few weeks. If they don't make it, carefully dig up new little seedlings as they appear in your garden and transplant them into pots of commercial potting soil. Make sure the pots have good drainage and place the plants in a warm and sunny spot in the garden. Eventually you'll find the right combination of soil and drainage to make them thrive.

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