All Things Gardening forum: Wisteria in your distress

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Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 17, 2013 5:02 PM CST
I can't find, maybe because I am new, a forum on Wisteria. I have a wisteria that is about 8 years old. It is in a 5x4x3 foot raised bed. I have been careful to not use any fertilizer that leaves a salt residue and change out the top foot of soil yearly with a good compost. Last year huge gorgeous greenery, but not many flowers. This year it was stupendous, the flowers were like a 1000 Hawaiian leis. Now the plant seems in be in great distress. All the leaves are withering and dying. I did use some Dyna Gro plant food, is it possible I mixed it to strong, or ..... I don't know. This plant is precious to me, and I sure could use some help. Thank you in advance.Thumb of 2013-05-17/Ainttakin/f8ff98
Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 17, 2013 5:17 PM CST
Sorry I meant Wisteria in Distress. See how upset I am? LOL
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
May 18, 2013 8:16 AM CST
Wish I could help out on this; I drool over wisteria.
We do have a forum for Vines and Climbers and I posted a link to this thread over there. Maybe someone over there will have some suggestions.
The thread "Can someone on this forum help out regarding Wisteria?" in Vines and Climbers forum
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Name: Betty
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daylilydreams
May 18, 2013 11:36 AM CST
Found this website that might help you out. http://www.wisteria.it/informa-e.htm
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
May 18, 2013 1:34 PM CST
I saw that same page. You'll need to scroll down nearly to the end of the page, that's where the information on pests and diseases is. Maybe red spider mites?
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
May 19, 2013 12:33 AM CST
It could be caused by several things. It might be stress if there have been up and down weather changes this year. It could also be getting too much water. Sometimes too much water will cause a fungus as well.

If the branches aren't dry and dead, then chances are it will come back; but if there is a problem with the root, then I'm not sure.

Mine are about 30 years old and I've never fed them anything nor have I treated them with anything, so I don't know how they would react to Dyna Gro. I guess I'm not much help. Sad

Zuzu has gorgeous Chinese wisteria and she lives in California. Hers grow over two old trees, so she might know more about problems with them than I do. Mine is Kentucky wisteria, aka American wisteria and you can see it here:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/Sharon/1281/In-Support-of-Vines...

There's nothing in my article that will help with your problem, though.

I love wisteria, so good luck with yours. I'm hoping it might only be stress related and will quickly recover.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
May 19, 2013 9:38 AM CST

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You wrote that it's in a raised bed. Is that a planter with a bottom and drainage or open to the ground beneath?
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
May 19, 2013 10:19 AM CST
That's a good point, Sue. If it's sitting in water, that's not a good thing and could be affecting the roots - which in turn will affect the branches and foliage.
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Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 20, 2013 12:21 AM CST
The Wisteria is in a planter, sitting on the deck. Kind of a strange condition for a Wisteria, but so far it has worked great. I have been giving it lots of water and the weather has been really weird. We have had an extremely dry Winter and Spring, but the weather has been warm to hot. I think I will give the plant a chance to dry out a bit, and see if that helps. Thank you so much for your responses. I feel so helpless when things like this happen
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
May 20, 2013 8:00 AM CST

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From another site "The root system of a massive vine wants to be equal in size to the “above ground” portion of the plant. Grown as a vine, Wisteria will outgrow a container quickly. The roots will just need more space to spread out in order to support such a large mass of leaves and flowers." They really are not suitable to a container unless grown as a bonsai where it gets regular root and stem pruning to maintain it as a small tree. If there are holes in the container, it may now have covered or plugged those holes and the water may not drain properly and it's rotting the roots.
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Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 20, 2013 8:15 PM CST
I wonder if it is possible to transplant this mature large plant? I can move it into the ground about 5 feet away from the current location. It would take an army, but I think I can find a team, if it is something that wouldn't kill it, if it isn't doomed already. If it makes it through the Summer, I could wait until the Fall.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
May 20, 2013 10:22 PM CST

Plants Admin

I found some good tips for attempting a move, I think it would be worth a shot.
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/move-10yearold-wisteria-bush-22...
http://blog.pennlive.com/gardening/2012/12/moving_a_wisteria...
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
May 20, 2013 10:55 PM CST
I went back up and looked again at what I could see of your planter and I'm pretty sure it's your problem. It might be tall enough and it might be long enough but it doesn't look to have the width nor the depth that your mature wisteria needs.

This is what I would do:

If you can dig a round hole that is at least the circumference of the long opening in your planter and as deep as your planter is - do that. If your planter is 4' long, then dig a 4 foot plus round hole that is just a little deeper than the planter. It wouldn't have to be exact but shouldn't be smaller than.
Loosen the soil in the hole and make sure it's very good, with good drainage and rich enough to feed the plant.

If you can remove the planter from around the tree so that the roots are not terribly disturbed - do that.
Then, if you can use a water hose and gently rinse the old dirt as much as you can away from those roots, do.

Then lift the entire tree including the root ball and place it in the hole then gently but firmly press the soil all around and into the crevices of the roots till it's completely and compactly planted.

If you can do that, I think the tree will be just fine with frequent watering through the summer.

I had already read that first link that Sue listed above and that sounds difficult and requires root pruning - not always a good thing with a wisteria's root ball; so what I'm saying is something a little less intensive and invasive to the roots, but it's what I've done with an up to 5 or 6 year old tree or two. Haven't lost one yet. However, what I was sure to do was not disturb the root ball. I did cut some side runners back, that won't hurt it, but I never disturbed the root ball, just washed it off, gently, not with a power washer or a hard spray.

Now if you can't remove the sides of the planter and get it out, then I'm not sure. With a mature wisteria, it's important to just loosen the soil within the root structure but disturb it as little as possible. Yanking it out would no doubt give it hysterics or something. I'm not sure how to get it out without removing the sides but you probably can figure it out.

It's a risk, but I think you will lose it anyway if it remains in that container. If you can get it out and transplant it gently, I think it will be just fine. I wish I were there to help you because I know how it is to watch a much loved plant wither away. Heart breaking!

Worth trying, I think.
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hazelnut
May 26, 2013 9:20 AM CST
Ainttakin. Wisteria is easy to propagate by layering. Bury a lateral branch with the tip above ground and the other end leave attached to the plant. You can make several this way. when the tip starts to grow detach from the original mother plant and replant the new plant where you want it. The size of the new plant will depend how big you make the layering. You can get a pretty big new plant this way.
Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 27, 2013 8:08 PM CST
I think I will try the move. I can make an area almost the same size as the planter box. It will be so much work, but is probably a good idea. The planter has large bolts so I am pretty sure it will come apart rather easily (well relatively easily). Now that the Memorial holiday is over, I am going to call my tree guy and see if I can talk him into this project. Very different than the usual remove the dead tree, he usually does. Digging the hole, I think will be up to me. I will give a progress report when I start the project. Thank you very much, the encouragement and advise is what is giving me the courage to try this.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
May 27, 2013 8:33 PM CST
Good luck with the move! It sounds like a backbreaking chore and I applaud your dedication. Hope all goes well for you. Smiling
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Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 30, 2013 10:35 PM CST
Today my friend "The Arborist" came over to give me some advise, and I was hoping for an offer to help. He did offer to help, and he has a good plan, digging the hole with the auger on the back of his Bobcat!, BUT he said I had to nurse the Wisteria through Summer. He felt the move now would put to much strain on the plant. He cut a little bit out of the dead branches and determined they were still alive. So as usual, good and bad news. I will see what I can do to keep the plant going until November. Here's hoping! A picture from this years bloom. Thumb of 2013-05-31/Ainttakin/69bc44
Name: Carol
Groveland, California (Zone 7a)
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Ainttakin
May 31, 2013 4:37 PM CST
Update: The arborist that came over yesterday was on a job today, and noticed the Wisteria in that yard was in similar distress as mine. The gardner told him the wisteria has reacted to the extreme heat of our Winter and Early Spring. We live at 3000 feet near Yosemite and are in our second year of drought. We have had almost no rain since December and the late Winter temps were in the 80's and 90's. This plant did not really get Winter, as it, I guess, requires! So I have hopes it will make it until November. It comes down to weather!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
May 31, 2013 8:01 PM CST
Oh, fingers crossed that your Wisteria makes it till you can move it! I'd be a basket case and want to DO SOMETHING right now!!!! Hilarious! But then, I have no patience. I don't know how I survive till the first seed sprouts in the spring. Rolling my eyes.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
May 31, 2013 8:43 PM CST
I think it will be fine; it might lose all the leaves and look pretty bad, but if you water it about once a week, the roots will be fine.

We had a really severe drought last summer, everything was brown and crunchy (including the wisteria) by the end of August. It rained a little in September and October and in November the wisteria was trying to bloom again. Finally when it got cold in January, the wisteria calmed down and settled in and got back on its cycle by bloom time in April. Try and keep the roots alive and chances are that's what it's trying to do anyway, losing the leaves so it can concentrate on saving its own roots. I think it will survive till November. Thumbs up
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