How to prune wisteria – and the best time to do it
Learn how to prune wisteria for a healthier plant with maximum blooms
It’s important to know how to prune wisteria to get the best out of this glorious climbing shrub. With its striking twisted vines and weeping clusters of perfumed flowers, wisteria is a romantic, whimsical plant evocative of cottage gardens.
While it makes a dramatic feature growing up the front of a house, wisteria is also one of the most delightful pergola ideas. Use it to frame a seating area, or add shade and privacy to the patio. Alternatively, consider trellis ideas for growing it against a fence or wall.
Wisteria is such a vibrant plant – I absolutely love seeing it hanging down an exterior or garden fence or over an arbour but it will need some attention
Generally wisteria is a low-maintenance plant but to keep its richness throughout the years, pruning does need to be done twice a year – in summer and winter.
How to prune wisteria in summer
Pruning wisteria in the summer will allow more light and air into the plant, encouraging the wood to ripen and fresh growth to develop. As wisteria is a vigorous climber, pruning at this time of year will also help to keep it under control.
Wisteria flowers on old wood, meaning that the flower buds that will bloom next year actually form on this year’s growth. To avoid pruning out all of next year’s flower buds, some pruning should be done in the summer, after flowering ends.
Summer pruning will also make the plant look much tidier and will focus flower bud formation near the main branches of the vine, promoting a stronger and more manageable plant structure.
You can do the first stage of your pruning right up until the end of summer, as long as the plant has finished blooming, and the cold fall weather has not yet set in.
A pair of hand pruners are essential for pruning wisteria. It’s also helpful to have a pair of loppers nearby as well as a pruning saw for older plants that have developed thick, woody branches
When pruning wisteria in the summer, focus on cutting back the long, leafy, ‘whippy’ shoots. Do a walkaround of your wisteria and find the extending growths. Count the buds up to five and then clip the remainder of the stem.
It is up to you how 'wild' or pruned you want the structure to be so don't worry about cutting too much, or not enough, but aim for an equal all-round prune
Remove any dead or diseased wood as well as any weak growth, so your wisteria will have more room to grow
Ensure major branches are not crossing over each other and remove any branches that are causing overcrowding.
Check for suckers at ground level and prune them away. Suckers look like thin branches growing out of the main trunk or limbs.
How to prune wisteria in winter
It’s important to prune wisteria for a second time in the winter. With the somewhat wild growing habit of wisteria, it’s nearly impossible to get all the necessary pruning done in the summer when the leaves are on the plant.
Winter is a great time to do another round of pruning, focusing on thinning the plant and keeping it trained to support structures. Winter pruning ensures that, come spring, your wisteria can put all its energy into producing beautiful blooms that won’t be hidden by long, leafy shoots.
You will require your hand pruners for this round of pruning, along with loppers and a saw for thicker, harder branches.
When pruning wisteria in winter, you are looking to cut back any growth from the previous summer that is too long or out of place. Prune the shoots back to two or three buds to help encourage a more dramatic display of flowering come spring.
Remove any diseased or dead wood, as well as suckers growing from the roots.
Don’t remove any large buds. ‘These buds will develop into full flowers come May.
Remove weak growth and any crossing or rubbing branches
Winter pruning is the perfect time to work on reshaping the structure of your wisteria plant as needed – this is especially true if you are growing wisteria on a trellis or pergola, If needed, add any new supports or wires.
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