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Publication #FPS-613

Wisteria sinesis Chinese Wisteria1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Chinese wisteria is a shade-tolerant vine, but it blooms only when grown in the partial to full sun (Fig. 1). It prefers a deep, rich loam, but will grow in any soil. Wisteria has a fast growth rate and may be hard to transplant due to a coarse root system. Planting from containers is easy. The roots are aggressive and could disrupt a nearby garden. The violet-blue flowers, borne in showy, drooping racemes, are produced in late winter (hardiness zone 8 and 9) to early summer (hardiness zone 6). They cover the plant for several weeks each year.

Figure 1. 

Chinese wisteria


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Wisteria sinensis
Pronunciation: wiss-STEER-ree-uh sye-NEN-sis
Common name(s): Chinese wisteria
Family: Leguminosae
Plant type: vine
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 9 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: espalier; container or above-ground planter
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: depends upon supporting structure
Spread: depends upon supporting structure
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: violet-blue
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: pod or pod-like
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristic: showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; can be trained to grow with a short, single trunk
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: thick

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in full sun
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: potentially invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Pruning is needed to keep this 30-foot vine contained. The vine can be seen when it is in flower in many urban areas where it has escaped its original bounds in a nearby yard. It is probably best used for training to grow onto an arbor where flowers can droop, forming a showy, fragrant ceiling of color. It can be maintained as a shrub in a landscape with plenty of room, provided it is pruned several times during the growing season. Avoid excessive applications of nitrogen fertilizer, because that will lead to foliage growth to the detriment of flowering. No fertilizer is needed in many situations.

Cultivars include 'Alba'—white flowers; 'Jako'—white, fragrant flowers; 'Plena'—double flowers; 'Purpurea'—purplish-violet flowers.

Pests and Diseases

No problems usually limit growth of wisteria. However, black vine weevil may attack wisteria. Crown gall causes formation of galls on the main roots or stems. Remove and destroy infected plants. Leaf spots may be seen, but infected leaves can be picked off. Powdery mildew coats the leaves with a white, powdery growth.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS-613, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.