262 Wisteria sinensisCommon Names: Chinese wisteria Family: Fabaceae (bean Family)
This twining deciduous vine is awesome in springtime as it leafs out and flowers with large, drooping racemes (grapelike clusters) of purple-blue, fragrant flowers. This tough woody vine often climbs high into tree canopy when grown in mild winter climates. It is stunning to see a wisteria draped from the limbs of a tall pine when in full bloom, a scene made more memorable by the blossoms' appealing fragrance. Leaves are compound and consist of 7 to 13 leaflets to about 3 in (7.6 cm) in length. The flowers are followed by attractive velvety pods 6 in (15.2 cm) in length. In winter, wisteria is a tangled mass of naked woody stems that may or may not be picturesque depending on culture and circumstance. Chinese wisteria is usually very long lived and trunks can become quite large and attractively gnarly with age.
Chinese or sweet wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, is native to China. It thrives so well in Florida it has earned a place on the state's invasive species list but is less aggressive in colder climates.
CultureWisteria is rampant; it can grow in full sun or heavy shade, in which case it will grow until it reaches a satisfactory level of light. It is not fussy about soil type or moisture, although its preference is a reasonably a moist, well drained, rich to average mix. Light: Sun preferred. Moisture: Average. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 9. Propagation: Cuttings, layers, grafts, seed. Easy to root by pulling the vine to the ground and placing a pile of earth over it.
Use wisteria as a container specimen, even a bonsai, to control run away growth. It is also beautiful trained over an arbor, or espaliered against a building. The white variety, alba, is especially effective when in bloom, planted next to a pond where its beauty can be doubled by reflection. With constant pruning, wisteria can be trained to a small tree or bonsai-like specimen plant.
Wisteria is noted primarily for the beauty and perfume of its showy, deliciously fragrant flowers. Its rapid rate of growth makes it a good candidate when fast coverage is desirable.
A better choice for Florida gardens is the native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) which is also beautiful and fragrant but more compact and less aggressive.
Chinese wisteria is a Category II plant on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council 2001 List of Invasive Species. This category consists of exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species. These species may become ranked Category I, if ecological damage is demonstrated. This vigorously growing vine may be troublesome in similar mild winter areas as well.
Steve Christman 5/31/97; updated 3/16/01, 3/23/02, 3/22/04, 6/24/10