Wisteria (Japanese)

Botanical Name: Wisteria floribunda

Category: Perennial vine

Divisible: No

Common Name: Wisteria

Evergreen: No


Cutting, seed


Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

Invasive: No

Size:10-25′ tall x 24 36″ wide

Clusters of blue-violet flowers with a wonderful fragrance cascade from this deep green twining climber. Flower clusters can grow to 3 feet long and typically open first at the base and last at the tip of each cluster. Blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Wisteria is a very hardy and fast-growing vine that is woody and deciduous. Perfect for the high desert it can grow in poor-quality but well-drained soil and thrives in full sun.

Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported but does best when allowed to grow up and around a support: tree, pergola, wall or other structure. The support must be very sturdy, because mature wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems.

My Experience:

Wisteria blooms in mid spring in the high desert – for me that is early April. For a few weeks it puts on a wonderful feast for the eyes! But that is not the only reason to include a wisteria vine in your garden.

It is a notorious slow bloomer – common wisdom says it can take up to 10 years to bloom. While it did not take quite that long for mine to bloom it is worthwhile to plant just for the beauty of the vine itself. It’s dark green leaves,braided trunk and twisting tendrils add interest with color and texture. 

Apparently a lack of blooming can be caused by too much nitrogen in the soil. I do not give mine any extra fertilizer and it has thrived. The only maintenance involved with my Wisteria vine has been to trim back drooping and over zealous tendrils. It can provide shade and be trained in many different ways as it grows very quickly.

Growing Wisteria from Seed

You can collect pods from your own wisteria in the fall after the pods have dropped. Let them dry thoroughly in a warm, dry place and after the pods become brittle, twist them open to release the seeds inside – or you can just let them dry out and split open on the ground as I do. You can plant immediately or save the seeds until spring. 

According to experts there are as many methods of germinating Wisteria seeds as there are pods on the vine! Wisteria seeds can be a bit challenging to germinate as they have a tough outer coating and a long germination period – 30 to 60 days.

 While all are in agreement that seeds do not need to be cold stratified, most recommend scarification – nip the seed with a nail clipper.

 Pre- potting germination or germinating in soil are both common practices. Regardless of which you choose seeds should be soaked in water first for 24 hours.

 Temperature is quite important to germination success – keep your seeds or pots at a minimum of 65°.

 Germinating in soil: Fill a 3” pot with well-draining sterile soil. Water the soil until it drains from the bottom. Plant 1 or 2 seeds 1” deep. Keep your pot at 65° and water when top is dry. You can cover the pot with plastic to help retain moisture but remove when seedlings have sprouted.

 Germinating in paper towel: Soak the seeds overnight, place on a damp (not wet!) paper towel, set inside a plastic bag, seal and store in a warm location.   Check the seeds every week for several weeks keeping the paper towel moist. After they have sprouted plant 1” deep in sterile soil in 3” pots.

After germination

After germination give your seedlings full sun and temperatures over 55°. Plant in the garden when seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves and are about 5” tall. Harden them off then plant in well drained soil that receives at least 6 hours of daily sun.


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Practical advice from a home gardener

I am Deborah Valiquet – artist and obsessive gardener. Here you will find my advice for creating a garden oasis in the high desert. I’ll share my experiences – successes and failures over the last 10+ years. 

Even if your garden isn’t in the high desert you will find lots of valuable information here. Let’s dig in!