Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Wisteria is a member of
the Bean family, or Legumes, that includes ten species of woody, twining
vines and is native to much of Eastern Asia as well as Southern Canada
and the Eastern United States. However, they are now widely grown
throughout much of Europe as well where they are known by their German
Name of Glyzinien.
Of the various species, two are far more popular than the others. Those
are the Japanese Wisteria - Floribunda and Wisteria Sinensis, or the
Chinese Wisteria. These two species are thought to give the best display
of large Flowers that grow in abundance, in clusters containing many
individual flowers. Wisteria Flowers are well known for the strong
Fragrance and although we always think of them as being mauve, there is
a variety of colours available including white, lilac, purple, and pink.
Both of the popular species were introduced to the United States in the
early 1800’s by Horticulturists and due to their hardiness and rapid
growth, along with their ability to escape their immediate environment,
they are considered to be invasive species in many parts of the U.S.
They can easily over-run and choke out other native plant species.
Wisterias are true Climbers as they climb by twining their stems around
anything suitable. Interestingly, the Japanese wisteria twines clockwise
when viewed from above, while the Chinese Wisteria, twines
counter-clockwise. Due to their strong, vigorous growth and twining
ability they can climb as high as 20 m above the ground with a
horizontal spread of some 10 m. Indeed the world's largest known
Wisteria, one of the Chinese Lavender variety, that was planted in 1894
in the Sierra Madre, California, now covers more than 1 acre and is
estimated to weigh some 250 tons.
Wisteria can grow pretty much anywhere, even in poor quality soils, but
they do prefer fertile, moist, well-drained soil and they do best in
Surprisingly they can be grown as a short stemmed Tree, or at least that
can be the appearance if properly pruned and trained. To do this the
Vine needs to be given a stout support shortly after planting and the as
the plant grows it needs to be pruned and shaped heavily to make it grow
into a “Mushroom,” shape.
Wisteria flower buds develop near the base of the previous year's
growth, so the side shoots should be shortened to about a foot long in
midsummer, and cut harder back to between 4 and 8 inches in the Autumn.
The natural Climbing abilities of a Wisteria means that they are easily
grown up almost any support, but at the same time the Vines will work
their way into any nooks and crannies so can be a nuisance if trained up
a House Wall, although that is of course the traditional way to grow
them. They are deciduous and their Leaves colour up very nicely in the
Autumn turning bright yellow and shades of bronze.
As with many plants the best time to plant a Wisteria is when they are
Dormant in the Winter months and this is also the best time to root
Hardwood Cuttings, although Softwood Cuttings taken in the Summer
Months, will root as well. Propagation can be done from Seeds, but the
resulting young vines can take decades to mature and start producing
Flowers. It is because of this that most plants sold have either been
grown from rooted Cuttings taken from mature Vines, or they are Grafted
Specimens, both of which types should flower well.
Although Wisteria do provide a food source for the Larvae of some
Species of Moths, all parts of the plant contain a toxic Saponin called
“Wisterin,” that if eaten may cause dizziness, confusion, nausea,
diarrhoea and may eventually result in a total collapse.