Plant your wisteria driveway with these species that won’t take over

Plant your wisteria driveway with these species that won’t take over

Wisteria is absolutely stunning when in bloom, as anyone who has watched the hit Netflix show will know Bridgerton You may have noticed (it’s that gorgeous purple-flowered vine on the outside of the Bridgerton family mansion). Wisteria looks particularly at home in cottage gardens, English-style gardens or anywhere really where its curtains of purple, sweet-smelling spring flowers can hang gracefully above an arbor or other sturdy support structure.

But before you add one to your own garden, you need to know that not all wisteria plants are created equal. Some are very aggressive and can quickly take over your garden. Native wisteria species are not aggressive or large, but they are also gorgeous. Here’s how to choose the best types of wisteria for your landscape.

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Best wisteria to grow

The name to look for in plant tags is Wisteria fruit, commonly called American wisteria. This species is native to the southeastern United States, and is hardy in zones 5-9, meaning it will grow in most areas of the country. American wisteria vines can reach impressive heights of up to 30 feet. It acts as a combination of shrub and vine, its thick, woody stems growing over time and can wrap around fences and, if given a trellis, scramble up the sides of a house. (Fun fact: This vine always grows counterclockwise when wrapped around a support.) Look for the widely available cultivar, ‘Amethyst Falls,’ which produces huge clusters of flowers in May and often blooms later in the summer.

Another citizen to try is (wisteria large) Or Kentucky wisteria. It is a better choice for northern gardeners, because it is slightly hardier than American wisteria, and tolerates winters up to zone 3. It can grow up to 25 feet tall, and begins blooming in June. The ‘Blue Moon’ cultivar has fragrant, bluish-purple flower clusters that can reach a foot in length. Once this vine matures (usually after two or three years of growth), it can bloom up to three times in one season.

Besides less aggressive growth, native wisteria varieties tend to mature and flower sooner than non-native species, which can sometimes take a few years to flower after planting.

Invasive wisteria species to avoid

When you’re shopping for plants, stay away from them Wisteria sinensis And Flowering wisteria; They are native to China and Japan, respectively, and although they are beautiful, both are invasive in many areas of the United States. They can reach 10 feet in height in one year, and can quickly reach 70 feet; If you don’t want them to take over, you’ll be stuck doing a lot of pruning. When left unchecked, they can completely wrap themselves around shrubs and trees, blocking out sunlight and eventually killing them.

These long vines are also heavy, so much so that they have been known to collapse fences and trees under their weight. Once established, non-native wisteria is very difficult to get rid of due to its tough root system. It usually takes repeated herbicide treatments and constant cutting of the vines to eventually kill them, so it’s much easier to avoid them altogether if you can.

American wisteria ‘Amethyst Falls’ creates a purple cascade of flowers atop the tree.
Courtesy of Sarah White/Clemson Extension

How to grow native wisteria

Give your American wisteria a location with moist, well-drained soil and full sun (where the plant will get at least six hours of direct sunlight daily). It can need some shade, too, but if you want to see hundreds of flowers each spring, full sun is ideal.

Plant yours in spring or fall. You will need to dig a hole as deep as the root ball in its nursery container and two to three times as wide. If you’re trying to create your wisteria tunnel with multiple plants, space them at least 10 to 15 feet apart, so each plant has plenty of room to grow its roots. Once the hole is filled, water it well to help the soil settle around the plants, then add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and prevent weeds.

Wisteria plants are drought tolerant once they are established, but you may need to water them once a week if at least an inch of rain does not fall. For the best blooms, be sure to prune your plant every year in late winter. Wisteria flowering encourages new growth and pruning encourages more stems to grow on the plant. You can also prune the plant back in late summer if you are trying to maintain a certain shape or height.

The right wisteria plants can be a beautiful addition to your landscape, but the wrong ones will quickly become weeds. Pay close attention to plant signs, and look for native species. They will add gorgeous flowers to your garden without becoming a nuisance.

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