The Q&A Archives: caring for a wisteria

Question: I have heard many comments about wisteria care, whether to trim or to cut back. Please tell me what is the best way to cut and fertilize my wisteria.

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.

You can feed your wisteria in the spring, just as new growth begins. Use a general purpose garden fertilizer such as a time-release 10-10-10 and apply according to label directions.

Best wishes with your wisteria!

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