Planting Chinese Wisteria

The Right Place
Chinese wisterias can be grown as far north as the Ohio River Valley, into southeastern Pennsylvania, and along the Atlantic coast into Massachusetts (zone 5). Although they are occasionally nipped by late frost in these areas, they can handle winter temperatures as low as -5° F. This kind of wisteria is not quite as hardy as the Japanese variety, and some northern gardeners go to the trouble of laying the vines on the ground during the fall and covering them with soil to protect flower buds from winter kill.

Do not plant this vine on the north side of a building or where a tree will shade it. Do not plant it under the eaves or overhangs of porches or roofs, which may block it from rainfall.

Wisteria is not fussy about soil as long it is slightly acidic (pH 6.5) and drains well. Drainage is very important. Chinese wisteria does poorly in wet, clayey soils. There is some controversy over whether certain kinds of soil promote flowering. Plants growing in light, sandy soils may bloom sooner, at the expense of leaf growth. Richer soils tend to encourage heavy foliage and discourage flowering.

Planting Nursery Stock
Wisterias may be planted in either the spring or fall (fall is best), in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sun daily. Purchase bare-rooted, grafted stock from a dependable nursery for best results. Such matured vines will bloom sooner than young seedlings. Keep the roots moist until planting time. Loosen the soil at least 1 foot deep when preparing the bed for planting. Dig a hole 8 to 12 inches out from the structure that will support the vine. Make it deep enough to accommodate the root system so that the graft union, the swollen place on the stem where the wisteria plant was joined to its rootstock, is below the surface of the soil. Fill in the hole and water generously until it begins climbing.

Pruned and trained to a single stem, wisteria vines can be turned into weeping trees. These make elegant, showy specimens in large lawns. Unsupported, wisteria can be used as ground cover. It is useful to obscure unattractive areas of the property or cover hillsides to difficult to plant.

Amendments In Planting or Transplanting
There are a number of products at the garden center that will help your newly planted or transplanted plants deal better with the stress inherent in the planting process. All healthy plants have beneficial fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, living on their roots. You can buy these valuable additions to your plant’s ecosystem. See the file describing Using Micorrhizae When Planting.

In addition, there are a number of products such as seaweed, compost tea, and beneficial soil microbes that when added to the planting process will help your newly established plants get going faster. See the file New Technology In Plant Growth Activators

For more information see the file on Planting Shrubs. For planting tools see Hand Tools For Digging and Planting in Yardener’s Tool Shed.

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