This vine is not a vine for the faint of heart. Do not plant it unless you are very fierce and ready to do battle not in the rink, but in the garden with an equally ferocious set of pruners. The pruners need to be very heavy and well made because you will use them weekly all throughout the growing season. So get ready because contrary to public opinion, kudzu is not the only vine that is eating the south. Just travel down to Florida and look at all of the beautiful flowers of wisteria twining through the trees everywhere there is a spot of dirt. Yes, it certainly is beautiful-in someone else's garden or along a roadside, but not in my garden.
My friend learned from her neighbor this particular vine was only two years old. Two years old and about 20 feet tall and maybe as wide. Obviously it liked the area it was planted in as it literally took over. The vine damaged the lovely arbor and trellis it was trained to grow upon. Boards were literally ripped off the trellis and who knows what else would have been ripped off had the vine been left to grow. But alas, its fate was sealed when my friend and her husband cut the neck of the beast AND used a chain and truck to pull the roots out, at least partially.
I agree, wisteria is stunning when it is bloom. It grows fast and quickly provides much needed shade when grown on an arbor such as in this situation, but I do not recommend planting this vine close to a house or on an arbor such as this. A better wisteria for this arbor would've been Wisteria frutescens, aka American Wisteria. This particular wisteria is native and is not as invasive as the Chinese wisteria. It will be more manageable for the homeowner. A good variety which was widely available last year, not sure about this year, is 'Amethyst Falls'.
If you simply must have a wisteria and the Chinese variety is the only one available here are some simple tips I use in my garden. Yes, I not only have a Chinese wisteria, I have TWO of them. Had I known better, I may have chosen the American variety over the Chinese variety (the only one available at the time). I say may because one of my tips helps me to control my wisteria and I am not sure American wisteria would've stood up to the tip. It probably would but we'll never know now since I have already planted the Chinese variety.
It is not a tip I would generally recommend because the old adage, "The right plant in the right place" is still the best advice you can adhere to as a gardener. But what if you are a plant collector and just have to have a wisteria-regardless of the type or consequences? Well, what I have done is plant my wisteria in a less than ideal location. My wisteria does not get full sun, thus it does not grow rampantly. This is not the right way to garden, but it is how I garden sometimes. Do not say Tina recommended buying a plant and planting it in a less than ideal situation because I will deny it forever. That is not what I am saying. But, if you must have a plant no matter what, think of innovative ways to control it and maximize its beauty and strengths in your garden. Not only are my Chinese wisteria growing in part shade, but they are growing on a very sturdy arbor away from anything the wisteria may try to climb and tear apart. And they actually haven't done much of anything so far, so how smart am I? Not very.
You see, if you really want wisteria, then pick an ideal location for it and plant it. The previous homeowners of my friend's house did not pick the right spot or the right plant for the spot even though the growing conditions were favorable. In this case they should have either:
a. planted the American variety on the their house, or
b. planted the Chinese variety far away from the house and trees, on a sturdy, sturdy arbor made from 6x6's and 2x4s, not 2x4s and 1x2s. That will never work.
I am not sure what my friend will plant to replace the wisteria, but perhaps the American variety 'Amethyst Falls' might be good? Or maybe a grape vine? One she can contol with judicial pruning. I think my pick for the arbor if I had such an arbor overhead, would be either a grape vine or a climbing rose, such as 'Zephirine Drouhin'. The Zephirine Drouhin is an extremely fragrant climbing rose which repeat blooms, and is nearly thornless. The pinkish red flowers would contrast nicely with the white of the arbor. Another excellent vine which would grow great on the arbor, is the clematis. Clematis would do well and not absolutely take over the arbor and definitely won't damage the arbor. There are many colors to choose from including: reds, purples, whites, pinks and a mixture of all of the colors.
So, the next time you want to plant a wisteria, or any vine, make sure you have the right situation for the plant and know what you are planting. There are alternatives to almost every single plant you could possibly want to grow.
in the garden....