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Climbers Wisteria

wist90Wisteria is a woody climbing vine of the pea family, remarkable for its fragrant blue-violet, purple, pink or white (but not yellow) blossoms in long, drooping racemes, 10 to 80 cm long, similar to those of the Laburnum. Flowering is in May and June, just before, or as, the leaves open. The vine climbs by twining its stems round any available support, be it a wall, fence, tree or side of the house. Oriental Wisteria (Sinensis) can climb as high as 20 m (over 65 ft) and spread 10 m (30ft) wide. Once established wisterias are extraordinarily long-lived – some famous ones are over 140 years old – their woody stems growing fat, gnarled and twisting. They can take up to five years to flower from planting, but many customers happily report that theirs have flowered in the second year. Plant in either full sun or partial shade, in well drained, fertile soil, with adequate room for the roots to develop. Wisteria needs regular pruning to keep it under control and improve flowering. Prune twice a year – cut back the whippy green shoots of the current year’s growth to five or six leaves after flowering in July or August, then cut back the same growths to two or three buds in January or February (when the plant is dormant and leafless) The first cut controls the size of the wisteria, encouraging it to form flower buds rather than leaves, and incidentally prevents it getting into guttering and windows. The second cut tidies it up before the growing season. See a more detailed How to prune Wisteria guide here Wisteria is also native to America, and there are some compact varieties with an eventual height of 5m, and spread of 3m, although with regular pruning they can be kept at half the size and still give masses of flowers. They are suited for the UK garden, small enough to live in a large container and, unlike most varieties, will flower after the first year.