Known as the beautiful, flowering, climbing vine throughout the South in the springtime, wisteria also looks spectacular as a stand alone shrub.
The "Woman's Home Companion Garden Book" (1947) says, "It grows far north of New York City, but as the weather becomes colder the growth is shorter and not so luxuriant. It is seen at its best in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, and in the southwest states." Apparently the author never drove through the South in the spring.
Wisteria is originally found in moist woodlands and stream banks in China, Korea, Japan and Central and South United States and cultivated for showy, pea-like, flowers, borne in pendent racemes in spring or summer. This display is followed by bean-like green seed pods.
The plant can be trained against a wall or, as shown here, as a stand alone shrub. It is especially popular as a covering for a pergola because of it's droopy flowers in spring and luxuriant foliage providing shade throughout the summer.
To train the vine, prune back the leading shoot to 36 inches above the ground after flowering. Tie the lateral shoots to the framework and cut back the sublaterals to two or three buds. Prune again in the winter.
To grow as a free standing shrub, prune vigorously in the first few years and provide some support.
Chinese Wisteria (W. sinensis) is perhaps the most popular species with one foot long flower heads of lilac blue - a rampant grower which can reach 50 or even 100 feet.
The Japanese Wisteria (W. floribunda) is less vigorous with flower-heads about nine inches long and stems growing to about 30 feet.
Zones 5 to 10.
Wisteria like sunny situations an humus-rich, well-drained soil. They take some time to establish (they may seem dormant for months) but become large, vigorous plants, growing quickly once established. They need strong support as vines.
Seedlings are easy to raise but may take years to flower. And, the flower may not be the same color as the original. For faster and more consistent results use cuttings. Take basal cuttings from side shoots in early to midsummer and root with bottom heat. Hardwood cuttings in winter.