Perhaps the grande dame of vines is wisteria (Wisteria
sp.). When trained to climb a vertical structure, its long purple-blue or white racemes create a spectacular show in mid- to late-spring. This deciduous twining vine should be planted for the long-term, and as a result, should be placed on a structure that can ultimately handle its shrubby habit and resulting weight. Train it to grow up an arbor, trellis, fence, wall or other sturdy climbing structure where it can grow overhead. Can also be trained in tree-form. When planting, it may need extra help in getting started but will take off once established. Plant in a moist, but well-drained soil in a full sun location. Grows about 25 to 35 feet. Chinese wisteria (W. sinensis
, USDA Zones 5 to 8) and Japanese wisteria (W. floribunda
, USDA Zones (4)5 to 9) are quite beautiful, fragrant species but are known to escape from its garden confines into the wild. (Always check with your local extension office or trusted nurseryman to find out which plants are invasive in your area.) Try the native species, American wisteria (W. frutescens
, USDA Zones 5 to 9), which is an equally vigorous climber and blooms later in the season than the Asian selections; notable cultivars include 'Longwood Purple' and 'Amethyst Falls'
. Learn more about wisteria