The Q&A Archives: Wisteria pruning

Question: I have a very large trellis that I would like to have covered very thickly by wisteria. I think old wisteria I've seen on similar structures have multiple trunks that have been twisted or braided together. My wisteria is young and has 3 long shoots that haven't grown long enough to reach the top of the trellis. Should I trim off 2 shoots that developed during the summer, or allow them to also grow up the posts to the top to form the mass I eventually hope to have across the top of the structure? (I have read conflicting articles about their pruning.) What should I do for this ? Once the shoot(s) reach the top, how should I prune to get the length as well as the width of growth that I need for coverage? Thank you very much for helping me.

Answer: Considerable confusion exists about pruning wisteria. The two species most commonly grown are Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria) and Wisteria sinensis (Chinese
wisteria), both of which bloom before or with the unfolding of the leaves.

Pruning wisteria extensively during the dormant season may encourage rampant vegetative growth the next spring. Instead, in July prune out the long, straggly growth except those branches needed for climbing. This is more likely than anything else to induce flowering. Shoots should be cut back one-third to one-half their length. This will induce them to produce the short spurs that will bear next season's flower clusters.

Wisterias are normally vines, but pruning can make them take shrubby and/or weeping forms. Heading back young shoots holds the height at a definite point and after
several years, the plant produces a trunk-like stem. Then leaders can be allowed to droop towards the ground.

Wisteria will bloom abundantly if planted in good garden loam with full sun, watered well the first growing season and pruned in the summer.

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