Wonderful Wisteria!


I adore Wisteria!  This divinely fragrant climber is in its prime in May.  Wisteria brings a welcome touch of romance to the garden, complimenting both modern and historic architecture.  Whether your style is cutting edge or traditional, grand or homely, Wisteria adds another dimension of flowers, scent, and interest, to enhance your home and garden.

Rather than purchasing plants online, I’d recommend you visit a nursery or garden centre this month and choose a grafted Wisteria plant.  Occasionally, you come across a Wisteria that just isn’t inclined to flower.  Avoid this risk and buy a plant in bloom; choose a Wisteria that produces your preferred fragrance, flowers, and leaves.

Wisteria flowers are beautifully fragrant, they make an absolutely glorious feature, easily clothing a wall or covering a house. Wisteria’s reach can be curtailed by pruning at least twice a year.

Wisteria flowers and leaves

Wisterias vary.  Some Wisteria varieties hide their flowers in amongst their leaves, giving a subtle floral display.  Some people like this, while others prefer Wisterias that produce their flowers before their leaves – it’s something to consider when choosing your plant.  Some of my favourites are: Wisteria floribunda f. ‘Multijuga’, which produces one meter (3ft) long racemes of lilac and purple flowers and Wisteria sinensis f. alba ‘Jako’, with its sweetly scented, white flowers, which open before the leaves.

Wisteria flowers are very popular with honey bees.

Avoiding frost damage

Late frosts destroy Wisteria flowers.  If frost is forecast, I spray a fine mist of water over my Wisteria’s flowers, as late as possible.  For best effect, pop outside in the middle of the night and spray your plants with water, before the temperatures drop too low.  The energy that water expends in order to cool and freeze, will raise the temperatures around your flowers, giving them added protection from frost damage.  An alternative is to protect your plants using fleece or Enviromesh.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal fungi are found naturally in the soil.  These native fungi usually go unnoticed, yet they’re of great importance to plants.  You’ll find Mycorrhizal fungi in the soils all around us.  These useful fungi form beneficial partnerships – symbiotic relationships with plants.  The fungi and plant effectively join forces in a lifelong alliance.   The fungi attaches itself to the plant’s roots, creating a fast growing, extensive root system, that takes in a far greater quantity of nutrients and moisture than the plant could procure alone.  This partnership greatly benefits plants, protecting and supporting plants through times of drought or stress.

Loseley Park’s Wisteria in full flower!

Rather than hoping your plants find their own mycorrhizal fungi, buy a pack of Rootgrow and inoculate your plants, at planting time.  It’s important to treat your plants when you plant them, as you can’t do so retrospectively.  So, if you’re planting a Wisteria, remember to order some Rootgrow!

After planting, check your Wisteria regularly.  Water with a full watering can, every week or two, during dry periods, until late autumn.

Pruning Wisteria

If you want your Wisteria to flower, I cannot stress how important it is to prune your Wisteria at the right time.  Please don’t worry, pruning these plants is simple and straightforward.  Once you’ve accomplished it once, you’ll have no reservations in pruning your Wisteria in future.  Please see my monthly gardening advice (Mid January to mid February, February, and Mid July to Mid August) for clear, detailed information on how to prune your plants.

RHS Garden Wisley

In 2018, a new Wisteria Walk was planted at RHS Garden Wisley.  This series of Wisteria covered arches extends to 75 meters (246 ft) in length; it’ll be a stunning feature this season!

For gardening advice for April, please click here.

For gardening advice for May, please click here.

For information on the best places to see spectacular carpets of bluebells in the UK, please click here.

For information of wonderful gardens to visit in springtime, in Surrey, please click here.

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