The MGS Forum

Plants for mediterranean gardens => Climbers => Topic started by: anita on October 02, 2012, 01:13:12 PM

Title: Wisteria
Post by: anita on October 02, 2012, 01:13:12 PM
Hi, Spring is in full swing in Adelaide, Australia and our Wisteria floribunda is hitting its straps. It was a long weekend yesterday and I had a chance to sit on the verandah and stop and smell the wisteria (the roses are a week away from blooming). It was a feast for the senses – saturated color, amazing fragrance from the blossoms and all the sounds of the suburbs drowned out by the hum of thousands of ecstatic bees.
By the way.. we had a relatively cold winter here and have had a gentle spring which I believe contributed to good budset and slow leaf emergence. The leaves are only just coming out and it’s the third week into bloom.
Having grown both W. sinensis and W. floribunda I would strongly recommend tracking down floribunda cultivars.
Having said that I’m grieving because I bought W. floribunda Royal Purple (recommended in Peter Valder’s key work on Wisterias, as the darkest floribunda) four years ago and patiently waited for it to flower. It’s flowered (on a different side of the house) and it’s just the standard purple. I’m going to have to get the axe to it and try again. This time I’m going to pay the extra cost (quite considerable) of buying an advanced plant in bloom to ensure that it’s true to description.
I've attached a few photos - the first showing the wisteria growing along our veranda. The subsequent shots taken from the verandah looking out into our backyard. Just pretend you are sitting in a comfy cane chair and imagine the fragrance and the sound of the bees... there is something really decadent about sitting in the shade with a drink in your hand... looking out into the sunshine
Cheers Anita
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Alisdair on October 02, 2012, 01:19:59 PM
Looks lovely, Anita - and for those of us in the northern hemisphere who will shortly be on our way to (Melbourne and) Adelaide for the MGS annual meeting, what a tempting foretaste!
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Umbrian on October 03, 2012, 06:37:02 AM
Lovely post Anita, I often think we gardeners spend so much time working in our gardens that sometimes we are in danger of not appreciating them.  :)
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: MikeHardman on October 06, 2012, 02:43:59 PM
Lovely, Anita. I know it has been said three times now, but it's just the right word. Well done and well described.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Joanna Savage on September 24, 2014, 09:24:02 AM
Back to Wisteria, after a two year break. I have a three year old white flowered (probably, plant naming in Italy is unreliable) Wisteria which has at last covered its pergola and provides much needed summer shade on the stone terrace  on which pancakes could be cooked in summer. Looking at local examples and at Anita's magnificent specimen, it begins to look as though I should winter prune back to a single stem across the pergola for best flowering. But then I would lose a couple of months of shade. How do others prune their wisterias?.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Umbrian on September 25, 2014, 06:26:58 AM
I have always understood that Wisteria should be pruned back to 3 buds from the outset to encourage flowering - just to let it grow, which it will do quite happily, often results in no flowers. I do mine at least twice a year but this year it has been more a monthly if not fortnightly job as the white one I have near to the house has grown rampantly with all the rain we have had. Of course this means it takes longer to cover an area like yours where you want shade but once you have obtained a framework it will do the job and hopefully provide flowers too. My white one I bought in flower to be certain - as you say plant labelling in Italy leaves a lot to be desired, :)
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Trevor Australis on September 25, 2014, 09:13:43 AM
I prune my 5 Wisterias rather harshly, usually back to 3-4 buds. I have to do it up to 4 times during the growing season BUT they do all flower. HON BENI - fabulous pink, long chain white - SHIRO KAPITAN, plain ordinary purple, double purple - BLACK DRAGON??? and short chain creamy white. After a few years hard pruning the side spurs with flower buds get established, tho' the vigorous long growths still need hard cutting. I am also very hard on basal shoots/ suckers. I pull them out with a sharp, hard tug away from the point of attachment. If necessary I excavate to remove them right from the main trunk. Altho' hard work it is worth it. O/wise the darn things grow like heck and threaten to swallow everything in rampant growth.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Fermi on September 25, 2014, 01:58:10 PM
We're about to plant some wisteria vines at the foot of a new deck with a pergola over it. They will have to climb almost 2 storeys to provide shade during the summer.
How long do you think it would take them to achieve that?
I think the W.floribunda types would be best but should we get a different one for each post or stick to the one variety?
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Trevor Australis on September 25, 2014, 11:02:48 PM
Fermi, if I may pontificate in the absence of Peter Valder from these pages - NEVER let wisteria vines twine around any post, rail, gutter or anything else. They get very heavy with age and can actually tear constructions apart. How far apart are the posts you intend to plant? I'd recommend TRAINING the vines from the beginning - straight up to the height you want, no side branches until the get up there, then allow sideways growth and prune accordingly. This sounds like hard work - IT IS. But the end results are manageable, under control and safe for your house. There is no doubt wisterias can reach two stories high. If you want to make shade against walls train the horizontal growths along chains or strong wires - again don't let the vines twist around these supports as in the end they will wrench them from the supporting structures.

If it was my choice I'd favour limiting the colour groupings to one or two colours only: for instance two different whites, or a solid pink and one of the several paler pink-on-white types, or one of the purples (double or single) and one of the lavender-on-white kinds. Valder's book has excellent colour photo's to guide your choices. I guess YAMINA or CLOUD HILL are your local suppliers?
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Caroline on September 26, 2014, 12:55:13 AM
Just rushed out to check my two-year old wisteria! Phew, I trained it straight up the support as Trevor indicates, with no twining or side branches. Will hope to get it going sideways over the pergola this year     (Fermi, in its first year it didn't do much, but last year what I envisage as the main trunk shot up to about 3.5 metres, which is the height of my pergola).  It's about to flower (on a small spur at the bottom) and if I remember correctly it's Black Dragon.  It needs to hurry up, though, as the Banksia Lutea on the next pillar is already well out.  Ah well, maybe no harmony of pale yellow and deep purple this year. C'est la vie
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Fermi on September 26, 2014, 09:07:36 AM
Thanks, Trevor and Caroline,
I'll get some wire for training the wisterias up to the pergola - I've seen wrought iron twisted by wisteria so I wasn't going to let the vines twine around the posts! I'm going to have to get a taller ladder if I'm to keep them from branching before reaching the top ;D
Yes, I've already spoken to Don Teese at Yamina about getting some from him.
I think planting 2 of 2 types might be the best (despite wanting them all!!!)  ;D
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Jill S on September 27, 2014, 12:42:24 PM
If you want lots and lots of them - how about growing some as free-standing trees? they're beautiful grown this way, and give pleanty of practise with the secatures (if you're anything like me you can spend many happy hours snipping away)
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Trevor Australis on September 27, 2014, 11:46:35 PM
Yes, why not a standard Wisteria? I grow the plain purple 'common' kind that way. It is trained on a single steel star-dropper - 3 winged fence post, 3m long with one metre driven into the ground, even so the Wisteria has pushed the post over at an angle after 35 yrs. Every now and then the top growth gets top heavy and threatens to break off at some point in the umbrella of crown growth so I saw off a few of the bigger branches thus reducing the weight and the risk. This also rejuvenates the plant. It sprouts new growth EVERYWHERE, so I have to go back to rigorous removals and considered pruning. It's not that hard and much better than the huge out of control birds-nests one sees on many a shopping centre veranda, and on many a home pergola. I once advised in a garden planted in the 1870's - a white Wisteria planted at the time on a strong jarrah (hard-wood) pergola walk; the thing had possibly never been pruned. In that time it had climbed into nearby gum trees and a row of poplars for more than 200 ft,  smothered numerous camellias, rhodo's and Japanese maples, and lifted the whole pergola clear out of the ground to the point that during a severe gale the whole mess - Wisteria, trees, shrubs and pergola came crashing down. I love my Wisterias, about to flower now, but they do need appropriate care even if you do have a 100 hectare garden!
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Joanna Savage on September 28, 2014, 07:44:20 AM
Thanks to all for this advice about growing Wisteria. With regard to my pergola, it seems as though I'll have to decide on a priority of flowers vs. shade. For flowers it would mean retraining and losing a couple of years growth. The aim would be five or six ribs of main stem along the length of the pergola with the secondary growth cut back  to three buds each year. But would there be full shade cover by end of  June? As it is now, the  shade is  so inviting and pleasant from mid June to mid October. So if shade is the priority it would mean constant and quite heavy pruning depending on how the plant decides to grow. One side of the pergola is high above the ground and exposed to wind coming up the valley, so, at least, the lush growth tends to the easily get-at-able side.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Fermi on September 28, 2014, 04:16:27 PM
If you want lots and lots of them - how about growing some as free-standing trees? they're beautiful grown this way, and give pleanty of practise with the secatures (if you're anything like me you can spend many happy hours snipping away)
Yes, why not a standard Wisteria? I grow the plain purple 'common' kind that way.
Jill,
I want lots because I'm greedy, ;D but they have to serve the purpose of shading a pergola, so no standardizing. We do have a W. sinensis on the other side of the house, planted by the previous owner (we bought the place in 2000) which is only now starting to flower well - despite virtual neglect!
While "window shopping" at a "local" (Kyneton, 25 km away) nursery today we found the white W. floribunda 'Shiro-Noda' so we bought 2 and will get the double purple from Don Teese at Yamina. But should we plant them alternating colours or 2 together or two in the middle and one on either side....? ??? Decisions, decisions!
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Fermi on October 12, 2020, 11:52:49 AM
6 years on one of the wisteria vines is flowering well. the second was  set back a bit by standing too close to someone with a strimmer ::)
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Caroline on October 12, 2020, 10:48:31 PM
Beautiful! Mine, which is also trained over a pergola, is almost over.  Going back through my photos, I see that it was about two weeks earlier than usual.  Global warming? Or the result of severe drought stress? The Banksia rose which it is supposed to combine with (see my earlier post) definitely suffered from lack of water - which meant it was later flowering than usual.  The banksia and the wisteria did not coincide - yet again.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Fermi on October 13, 2020, 10:52:04 AM
Hi  Caroline,
plants aren't always cooperative with our design plans! :o
We followed Trevor's advice and trained the vines up wires to reach the top of the pergola and then along separate wires to cover the cross beams.
Here are a couple of pics from below to show that it  did climb from the ground up the equivalent of two storeys
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: Charithea on October 13, 2020, 12:29:20 PM
Wow!, Spetacular!! We have a pale blue one but it has never reached this splender.
Title: Re: Wisteria
Post by: David Dickinson on October 13, 2020, 01:01:57 PM
Sorry to hear that your plans didn't come to fruition this year Caroline. Sounds like a beautiful combination of colours- Fingers crossed for next year.

I only really started "gardening" in a mediterranean climate 5 years ago when I moved into my present accommodation. I use inverted commas because most of my planting is in tubs with 2-3 plants in each tub. This year, having seen how things have, or have not, grown over the years it is time for a massive rethink. Before, when I had only a balcony, colour combinations could be created and recreated almost daily as everything was in individual pots.

Wish me luck. I am going to start the task over the coming weekend.