The Q&A Archives: Wisteria

Question: I have a 1 year-old wisteria when it was first planted and started growing my husband started intertwining it through our cyclone fence, needless to say the major vines have grown into the fence and are getting bigger. Our neighbor hates it and is constantly whacking it. We'd have to cut it back to 2 feet and planned on building a trellis for it to grow on. I'm hoping we won't damage it by cutting it back so much. Could you please help us!!!!!!

Answer: Boy, once they get established, wisteria are definitely vigorous growers. The best way to get a handle on the growth is to train it while it's young by rubbing out buds as they form along the trunk, and selectively pruning to keep the basic structure under control. If yours is out of bounds, don't be too afraid to cut it way back.

The general rule of thumb is not to remove more than one-third of the plant material in any one year. So, if you've got a really rangy wisteria, plan to spend about three years re-training it. Right now go ahead and remove the long shoots that are threatening the fence. Identify the worst ones, follow them back to the trunk, and prune them off there. Then step back and look at what remains, and remove the next-worst offenders. In the spring when buds form for new shoots, rub them out if they are too numerous, or if they appear to want to grow in the wrong places. Patience and perseverence will pay off eventually.
Wisteria should be pruned at the end of the dormant season, prior to the onset of spring growth. Late February would be a good time for your area.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your wisteria!

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