What Is A Wisteria Plant?
Wisteria is a part of the Fabaceae family, and they are notoriously known for their ability to climb any vertical surface. They are deciduous plants, which means that they shed their leaves/foliage annually. Their vibrant flowers are distinguished by the way they grow in large clusters (racemes), which droop down from strong, twining stems.
Wisteria flowers are often a shade of light blue/lilac, but they do also range from white flowers to rich pink as well! They are all originally native to countries in Asia – particularly Japan, Korea, and China – but they have now been hybridized and carried over to plenty of other countries, especially southern parts of the USA. Because they have adapted to so many different climates, there is now a huge variety of Wisterias.
Read on to find out more about these!
Wisteria Sinensis (Chinese Kidney Bean)
Native to: Temperate Asia/China
The Wisteria Sinensis flowers in the spring and summer. It takes between 10 and 20 years for it to reach its recorded, ultimate height of around 40 feet. The plant has beautifully fragrant, lilac flowers that droop in their racemes to an average of 30cm! It is particularly fond of soil that has alkaline conditions, such as chalk and clay soil.
Because of its mounting nature, it is able to climb to find the sun that it loves. However, it also enjoys being sheltered in hot temperatures. The easiest places for the Sinensis to grow are through large trees or against house walls, as it will be able to cling on to the grainy textures.
Blue Moon Wisteria (Wisteria Macrostachya ‘Blue Moon’)
Native to: Kentucky, USA
The Blue Moon Wisteria is well-known for its ability to survive extremely cold temperatures (up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit), making it one of the hardiest types of Wisteria plants.
While it doesn’t grow as large as other Wisteria (its average height is 25 feet), the fact that it can grow in cold temperatures means that the height isn’t actually necessary to survive. This is because other Wisteria plants use their enormous height and climbing capabilities to find the sun and heat! On average, the Blue Moon Wisteria will take three years to bloom its blue flowers.
However, once they do start blooming, they can flower up to three times in one season. This makes the Blue Moon Wisteria highly sought-after. These lovely plants are great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to gardens, which encourages diversity in the local wildlife.
Pink Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria Floribunda ‘Rosea’)
Native to: Japan
As one of the most recognizable Wisteria plants, the Pink Japanese Wisteria is an extremely strong climber. It has to be introduced to surfaces that have sturdy structures, such as house walls or pergolas, due to how heavy (and fast) these plants can grow!
They are made up of intertwining stems that support huge amounts of racemes. These clusters can grow up to 24 inches in length and are made up of pale pink and purple flowers. This Wisteria thrives in the late spring and early summer temperatures, although it is still capable of flowering in winter.
One problem that some growers may find with this particular plant is that it can be quite invasive. The speed grows at means that its root system often disrupts other plants that are nearby, and the twining stems will take over whole structures that they are growing against. The Pink Japanese Wisteria will need regular pruning to control it!
Amethyst Falls (Wisteria Frutescens)
Native to: Southeastern American States
The Amethyst Falls is a small Wisteria plant, fond of forest soils and stream banks. As with most Wisteria, it thrives in moist soils that are slightly alkaline. It is different from the other plants, however, in that it doesn’t grow extremely tall. It has shorter clusters of flowers, and can even be grown in pots!
Because it is a smaller Wisteria, it will come into bloom faster than other species, flowering within a few years. The rich, purple flowers are excellent for attracting birds and bees to gardens. This is because these flowers are heavy with nectar and pollen. As well as this, the thick racemes and foliage are a brilliant place for birds to find shelter in.
Silky Wisteria (Wisteria Brachybotrys)
Native to: Japan
Considered one of the lesser-known Wisteria plants, the Silky Wisteria made up of small racemes only grow to 4-6 inches. While it is native to Japan, many experts wouldn’t class it as Japanese Wisteria. This is because its characteristics are so different from the typical species from Japan.
For example, it is much less invasive than other Japanese Wisteria, growing to a much smaller size with fewer flowers. As well as this, the Silky Wisteria’s foliage is actually covered in silky hairs (which is where it gets its name from). The blooms are a lavender color, similar to the size of a pea flower, and they are extremely fragrant. This helps to attract a large number of birds, butterflies, and bees.
Scarlet Wisteria (Sesbania Punicea)
Native to: Northern California
The Scarlet Wisteria is an incredibly distinctive type of Wisteria plant, with its bright orange/red flowers being eye-catching from quite a distance. It can grow up to 15 feet and will spread up to 10 feet.
Unlike other Wisterias, this plant tolerates poor soils, and it can thrive in almost any temperament. It will most likely be found in bog-land and marshes, or pond and canal banks. This is useful for this Wisteria because it spreads its seeds by floating them downstream in water.
The Scarlet Wisteria is considered scarily invasive, because of how quickly it can start new colonies. In 6 years, this plant has spread over 100 linear miles in Sacramento. It does this by using its prolific seeds to find new areas along a water bank, and then it will invade the area and take over the other plants that reside there. Its dense thickets block access to water for the other plants, so they eventually die out.
As well as this, its seeds are able to grow in the shade that these thickets produce, meaning that it doesn’t need all that much sunlight to thrive. Unfortunately, this plant is poisonous to many birds, reptiles, and mammals, so it can be quite dangerous.
Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria Sinensis ‘Jako’)
Native to: China
The Chinese Wisteria ‘Jako’ is made up of small, white flowers – similar to those found on a pea flower. Its flowers always bloom at the same time, creating a stunning view in late spring/early summer. It flowers best when it is in full view of the sun, although it can still survive in cooler temperatures.
Alongside its blooms, the Chinese Wisteria ‘Jako’ releases an intense fragrance. It is often said that its sweet smell is the most pleasant out of all of the Wisteria family!
Interestingly, this plant is a winner of the ‘Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, a very prestigious award that acknowledges when a plant performs reliably in the garden. This is particularly important for a Wisteria plant, as they are known for being unruly.
Japanese Wisteria ‘Royal Purple’ (Wisteria Floribunda ‘Royal Purple’)
Native to: Japan
This Wisteria plant is made up of the deepest purple blooms from all of the Wisteria family. These racemes can reach a huge length of 20 inches, with the thick floral tresses producing a lovely scent. As with most Wisteria, the ‘Royal Purple’ Wisteria flowers in late spring/early summer.
Once they have bloomed, they change into bean-shaped pods that will remain throughout the winter, waiting to flower once again. The leaves surrounding the flower clusters are a bright green, that will turn to a golden color by the time fall comes around.
Growing to a height of 30 feet tall, this Wisteria Floribunda actually climbs surfaces by going in a clockwise direction. This is the opposite of Wisteria Sinensis plants, which grow in an anticlockwise direction.
The Wisteria Floribunda ‘Royal Purple’ isn’t as aggressive as some other plants in the family, but it will still need to be ‘trained’ when it is first planted. This means that it will need to be pruned after every bloom so that it maintains a similar size without becoming invasive.
Kentucky Wisteria (Wisteria Macrostachya)
Native to: Midwest USA, Louisiana, and Texas
The Kentuck Wisteria is perfect for those who would prefer a Wisteria plant that can be easily controlled. As it flowers later in the year, this plant actually blooms its violet flowers after the leaves have emerged. This is quite unusual for a Wisteria, and it means that the flowers are often hidden amongst the foliage.
Similar to the Blue Moon Wisteria, the Kentucky Wisteria can withstand very cold temperatures, making it one of the most durable plants out there.
However, it does still grow best when it is in full sun. It produces a very faint scent, which again makes it stand out from other Wisteria plants. It is a brilliant choice for someone who wants a beautiful plant that can climb walls, but who doesn’t want it to be too invasive with its size or smell.