Chinese wisteria tree in container? - Knowledgebase Question

Ridgefield Park, NJ
Question by marmax1996
May 7, 2006
After drooling over other's wisterias for years, against my better judgement (I'm afraid it won't bloom!) I finally succumbed and purchased one that has already been trained into tree form. I'd like to keep it in a large container, since I'm not sure where to plant it in the ground and also, I may be moving within a year or so. The nurseryman said I could grow it in a container but it would have to be transplanted in 5 or 10 years to an even larger container. Fine so far. He did,however,say it would be best to plant it directly into the ground. Do you know of anyone successfully growing a chinese wisteria tree in a large container? Am I asking for trouble? Do I need to keep trimming it or just let it be, since it is already a tree? It will be in full sun, zone 6 in northern NJ. Thanks so much. (PS - Monrovia plants look simply beautiful in the nurseries!!)

Answer from NGA
May 7, 2006


Whether it is in the ground or in a container you will have ongoing trimming or pruning and maintenance to do. This can help control the size and shape and enhance its blooming performance.

I am concerned about growing it in a container for several reasons. One is that this plant is an aggressive grower and the larger the top growth, the larger the root area required to sustain it. The restricted space in a container will prevent it from reaching its full potential. You may need to do regular root pruning addition to repotting and replenishing the soil mix every year or so. Regular watering and fertilization will also be needed since this is an artificial environment for the plant. You will need to water it any time the soil is not frozen. It can be difficult to keep it in good health as a container plant under home growing conditions.

Also, in a cold winter area such as yours, you will need to take special care to protect the roots during the winter. The small soil volume in a container is prone to freezing, thus exposing the roots to more cold than they would experience when planted in the ground. It is also subject to intermittent freezing and thawing when temperatures oscillate as they often do in late winter and spring. These both are very stressful on plants.

I would recommend planting it in the ground and then purchasing a new one when you move. If that is not possible, you can try to keep it as a container plant. A larger container such as a half whiskey barrel size is preferable to a one or two gallon nursery pot -- more soil volume and also better support for the stake used for training it to tree form -- and more weight to keep it from blowing over on a windy day. In winter, move it to a sheltered but cold location such as an unheated garage, or move it to a spot with good wind protection and try to insulate the rootball by heaping soil or mulch over and around the container. (Do not bury the stems.) While it is stored, keep the soil barely damp, do not let it go bone dry.

Here are some general wisteria care instructions you may find helpful. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Good luck with your plant!

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