The Wisteria is one of the most enchanting and ornamental plants in the whole plant kingdom.
The pendulous racemes that hang from the ‘tree’ are full of amazing flowers that are scented and add an elegance to almost any location, the twisting trunk is something from a fairytale, and the strange drooping seed pods are interesting too.
Many misinterpret the Wisteria to be a tree, it actually is a vine. However, it can be easy to be confused as the Wisteria can often intertwine itself into a sort of ‘trunk’ and look like a tree.
Wisteria are actually vines that can grow up nearly anything and, perhaps even more surprisingly, are part of a wider legume family called Fabaceae making it more closely related to beans and peas than any tree.
If you aren’t already inspired to make this your next plant project, the WIsteria is extremely hardy and has become acclimated to almost all climates. You may be interested to learn that the world’s largest Wisteria is in California!
Thanks to the sunny climate and rich soils of Sierra Madre. Planted in 1894 the vine encompasses over an acre of land and could weigh nearly 250 tons.
Additionally Wisterias can grow in even the poorest soil. Only nitrogen is your enemy when trying to encourage the plant to flower, as too much fertilizer seems to halt the blooming process.
Even the in-the-know gardeners who are aware of Wisterias may not be aware of the large variation of color, scents, vines, and seeds that come with the many cultivars of the Wisteria that have their own uses and may suit your area or specific use better than simply looking for a generic Wisteria.
Wisteria Floribunda ‘Caroline’
This particular Wisteria is a deciduous climber, its tresses are around 12 inches in length and are the home to some wonderful flowers. No tonly do these flowers smell great but they also have a beautiful white to lilac color when in bloom.
When mature the flowers will bear the strange fruits of Wisteria which have little peas inside them, do not eat these as they are relative psychotoxic and cause a world of difficulties – so keep out the reach of children.
However, with a mature Wisteria ‘Caroline’ it has the potential to grow to nearly 30 ft tall and can spread really widely. If you want to control the spread and height of your Wisteria make sure to regularly prune it and guide the branches around.
Wisteria Floribunda X Sinensis ‘Burford’
Unlike the previous cultivar, this specific variety of Wisteria has won an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It does have a similar flower to the ‘Caroline’ variety that is white and purple.
However, ‘Burford’ has a much deeper purple color which makes it a little more dramatic and eye-catching.
The ‘Burford’ flower is particularly unique for the small yellow dot that often occurs on the petal, making the Wisteria look like an ornate finger painting against a blue sky – truly magical. For the best flowering results make sure your Wisteria is getting a lot of sun.
Yet, this Wisteria doesn’t have the potential to grow as high or spread as far as the ‘Caroline’ cultivar. The ‘Burford’ cultivar can spread to around 25 feet tall. Yet, this may be desirable for some gardeners who are dealing with a smaller working space.
Wisteria Brachybotrys ‘Murasaki-Kapitan’
If you would like a Wisteria with a strong scent, maybe because you are next to a farmer’s field or close to a factory, this is the WIsteria for you. The Murasaki-Kapitan has a strong and powerful floral scent that is quite sweet and heady. Many describe this cultivar as the most fragrant Wisteria you can grow.
Beyond the cultivar’s scent, this Wisteria boasts some purple and white petals that are really beautiful and have a little more contrast than the previous two cultivars. These colors contrast well with the Wisterias green colored stems and foliage.
Like the ‘Burford’ this is a little smaller and more compact than the large spreading Wisteria varieties but this is perfect for a smaller garden space. Expect a spread of around 25 feet when mature. Moreover, the petals have a soft feel which earn this variety its common ‘Silky Wisteria’.
Wisteria Brachybotrys ‘Shiro-Kapitan’
This is another Wisteria cultivar that is known for its strong scent. The long racemes, around 6 inches, sprout beautifully pure white flowers. The only tarnish to the white color is the conspicuous yellow spot that occurs on the petal which is a welcome contrast.
No wonder this plant’s name translates to ‘the White Captain’. The white petals look particularly dramatic against the bright green foliage. Again, the petals’ lovely touch earns it’s name of ‘Silky Wisteria’.
With an even smaller spread than the previous cultivar, this is perfect for a small garden which needs a natural perfume. Grow in full sun to get the best results, but this Wisteria will grow in almost any soil.
Wisteria Brachybortys ‘Showa-Beni’
This cultivar is particularly large but also smells really strongly. This Wisteria can grow up to 40 ft in spread and is particularly suited to large gardens and stately homes.
Of particular interest, this Wisteria flowers only one year after planting, but as mentioned, when mature it can grow to a particularly large spread.
Of particular interest is this cultivar’s uniquely peach colored flowers which really add a summery vibe to this twisting vine. This looks really beautiful against the white background of a building.
In its mature form the vine spreads really far and looks so beautiful as the peachy racemes droop towards the ground – it’s a serious sight to behold when grown properly.
Prune regularly to control the shape of a mature Wisteria. Promote the flowering by not using too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen heavy fertilizer.
Wisteria Floribunda ‘Alba’
This particular Wisteria variety is probably the most famed and syndicated of all Wisterias, when amyn think of the Wisteria it will be this particular variety that comes to mind.
For instance, this is a staple in Japan, clearly, but is the variety that forms the ‘Wisteria Bridge’ over the Fuji River in Kyoto, Moreover, this variety is the subject of Monet’s painting ;Wisteria’ which is an abstract painting of his own Wisteria floribunda in the gardens of his house in Giverny.
As you can guess from the varieties name ‘Alba’ the flowers of this Wisteria are a perfect white, perhaps what leads to its fame as it is totally unfettered by any contaminant colors.
When mature the racemes are beautiful milky waterfalls that will bring peace to any garden or mind. This cultivar has a little less spread than previously described cultivars, around 20-30 inches.
Wisteria Frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’
The frutescens variety of the Wisteria is the most common and endemic variety in America. So if you are an American gardener then consider this cultivar. This is less invasive than its asian counterparts, the Chinese and Japanese wisteria.
Yet suggesting this would be a small climber would be an overstatement as it can still cover your garden and spreads only a little less than other varieties. If you want to contain it a little, try growing in a large container, or simply prune it regularly to control growth.
Usually, the frutescens variety of WIsteria is unscented, this ‘Amethyst Falls’ variety is an expedition as the flowers it produces in May and June are particularly richly scented.
The racemes are particularly long, and with the perhaps most boldly purple inflorescence of all Wisteria, the flowers join together to produce an amethyst waterfall true to the cultivars name.
The Final Word
Whether you already knew about Wisteria, or you are completely familiar with this awe inspiring plant, we hope this guide has shown you the variety of Wisteria out there.
Many cultivars are good for different purposes, whether you want a strong smelling WIsteria or simply one that’s best suited for your climate, there is a cultivar out there for you.
Wisterias are a truly amazing plant, and we hope the guide has encouraged you to buy one and get planting. A Wisteria is definitely a long commitment and isn’t necessarily a plant that will bear fruit immediately.
However, growing a Wisteria is a great practice in patience and we guarantee you will be rewarded eventually. There is nothing better than pointing out a plant that you had planted years ago and has grown into a wide spreading but beautiful piece of plant architecture in your garden.
If you have bought a new house with some land, we think the Wisteria is such a great choice to plant when you move in and is something you can watch grow for years to come.
It’s the kind of plant that will outlast even you and years after you have adorned your garden with its beautiful flowers, another family will come and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If the ease of planting a Wisteria isn’t enough to convince you then hopefully it’s beauty and variety is.
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