For years we have admired wisteria vining on the stone walls of New England and trained on arbors in North Carolina. A special memory is sitting under Edith’s vining canopy of wisteria’s fragrant purple flowers in Providence, Rhode Island while sipping fresh lemonade. She was a former landscape client whose garden was over fifty years old.
Growing wisteria in western Pennsylvania is just as easy. Our experience involves two vines in two-gallon pots that patiently waited two years to grow on an honorable structure.
This vigorous vining plant will quickly choke out living trees and crush a weakly made arbor. We recommend a strong cedar, locust, Eastern Hemlock or metal pipe frame to permit the vines to crawl.
Getting wisteria to bloom can be a challenge. Start with a sunny location with lots of damp sandy soil. Soil too rich will provide foliage but no flowers. Pruning the vines heavily and root pruning (cutting the roots with a sharp spade each winter) will encourage blooming. If this doesn’t produce flowers try giving the plant a good beating. All your gardening frustrations can be bestowed on the wisteria with a wiffle ball bat.
The hypothesis is that the plant is “shocked” into thinking it is going to die from the abuse, so it then flowers to produce seed to keep its legacy alive. Rusty has used this method successfully with fruit trees and flowering shrubs.
The sweet grape-smelling wisteria blossoms are worth the extra care, but don’t fall asleep under them for too long. You may wake up engulfed in revengeful vines.