Wisteria Adds Drama to an Arbor or Trellis

Author: Meera, March 9, 2013

I love the look of an arbor or trellis that makes a classical architectural statement in the garden. My husband Carlos has built a few of these. Most recently, he created a lovely trellis to support a decades-old wisteria that a neighbor had been growing in her garden.


Wisteria is a deciduous vine, meaning it loses its leaves in the winter and goes dormant. These vines are long lived, can be quite thick in diameter, and have lovely bracts of flowers in the spring, even before they sprout leaves.


It’s best to purchase wisteria that has already been grafted onto root stock or that has been grown from a cutting. These vines aren’t particular about soil, but they do need plenty of water and good drainage.


The other requirements are pruning and training. Wisteria can grow as much as 20 to 30 feet during the first year. I had a plant in San Jose that climbed a trellis and spilled over onto the roof in its very first year in that location.


I like tying the vines and the streamers to support them. Wisterias can be trained as shrubs (albeit large ones) or even as small trees. If planted on a bank or berm, they can spread quickly to vigorously cover the area.


I grew Wisteria floribunda in my San Jose garden, but here I’ve chosen Wisteria senesis (Chinese Wisteria) for the Henny Penny Farmette patio arbor (that we have yet to install). Chinese Wisteria blooms all at once in a beautiful violet-blue color before it leafs out in April-May. The blooms, which are more spectacular than the Japanese wisteria, are only marginally fragrant.


There is another variety of wisteria–Wisteria venustra–known as silky wisteria. The flowers are very large, long-stalked, and white. The plant blooms in short, heavy clusters that open all at once. Leaves break open in April. Another cultivar–Wisteria violacea has purple-blue flowers that are quite fragrant.


If you already have an amazing trellis or arbor, why not plant a wisteria next to it to add drama to your garden? It’s a vine sure to please year after year with ever-more spectacular blooms.





Tags: , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply