A popular, woody climbing vine, Wisteria produces long racemas of colourful, fragrant flowers, similar to that of Laburnum. Wisteria, also known as wistaria or wysteria is native to eastern U.S, China, Korea and Japan. Wisteria has been bred in Japan and China for over 2000 years and was first introduced to the U.S in the 1830s. An easy way to distinguish between Chinese and Japanese Wisteria is by the direction of their twining vines. Chinese Wisteria, Wisteria sinsensis, twines clockwise whereas Japanese Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda, twines counter clockwise.
There is some controversy surrounding the origin of the name. Botanist Thomas Nuttall states he named it after Dr C Wistar and that the difference in spelling is due to euphony (sound pleasantness). However, other sources state it is named after Nuttall’s friend C.J Wister.
Wisteria plants can grow as tall as 20m and require strong support from either a tree, pergola or wall. The largest wisteria vine is in California and measure 1 acre in size and weighs 250 tonnes!
The largest Wisteria in the U.K can be found in Wickham Place Farm in Essex. Trained along a wall it stretches for over 75 metres! One of the oldest wisterias in the U.K is situated in Wrest Park, Bedfordshire and is thought to be approximately 150 years old.
The Kawachia Fuji Gardens, just outside of Tokyo, boasts over 150 wisteria plants with a wisteria tunnel showcasing a variety of these flowering climbers trained over a long, snaking archway. The Fuji Matsuri Wisteria festival is held here every April.
Wisteria are easy to grow and tolerant of poor soils although they do prefer a moist, well-drained site. As long as they’re in full sun they will thrive. Wisteria has nitrogen fixing properties and should not be treated with nitrogen based fertilisers. Instead, use a phosphate or potassium based fertiliser.
Ornamental Trees offer a gorgeous range of climbing wisteria plants, ranging from white, soft pink, lilac to deep purple. Prefer a yellow flowering climber instead? See our choice of Laburnum or Golden Chain trees.
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