Creating a Landscape Design with Wisteria

Wisteria is such a stunning display of pendulous flowers and foliage that it makes a perfect choice for landscape design. But the decision to incorporate wisteria into the landscape is not without special considerations. Wisteria is, after all, a very hardy and invasive vine.

Think Vertical

Many home gardeners consider only the horizontal – length and width – when creating a landscape design. Wisteria provides an excellent opportunity for a stunning vertical statement. This vigorous climbing vine can reach heights of 25 feet. Adding 1 or 2 wisteria vines in the garden will add dramatic visual impact.

Where to Situate Wisteria Vines

Since wisteria is a prolific grower whose creeping vines grow thicker and woodier each year, give them a prime spot in the garden that receives full sun at least 6 hours a day. To encourage vertical growth and twining around or up a sturdy support, examine the landscape to see which area suits it best. Here are some suggestions:

  • Brick or block wall
  • Fence planting
  • Arbor
  • Trellis
  • Pergola
  • Freestanding tree-form

Design Looks

Two of the most popular wisteria varieties grown in the U.S. are the W. sinensis or Chinese wisteria and the W. floribunda or Japanese wisteria. Both are spectacular blooming deciduous perennial vines that can create a dramatic garden design.

  • Chinese wisteria provides the perfect focal point for an English cottage garden. Although this type of garden may seem haphazard and whimsical, it is anything but that. The structure varies according to selection of plants by height and width, as well as the element of trellises, pergolas or arbors – perfect for the wisteria. Choose 3 to 4 main elements, with wisteria as one of them, and balance with other perennials of opposing color.
  • Create privacy with wisteria vines planted along a fence and block unsightly views on the other side.
  • Soften hard elements or unsightly features such as a block or brick wall, the edge of a long concrete driveway, or hardscape around a swimming pool.
  • Try the slope effect – gradually slanting garden plants from highest, such as wisteria, to the smallest, such as ground cover and low-growing annuals and perennials.
  • Balance the home garden with 1 or 2 tall focal points. Again, wisteria makes an excellent choice.

Integrate Wisteria Support into Overall Garden Design

Remember that wisteria vines grow enthusiastically and can easily overgrow less-than adequate supports. Consider using supports that can not only withstand the weight of the ever-thickening woody vine, but also add visual appeal to the garden.

Do not plant wisterias next to the house, however, as this vigorous vine will quickly grow into eaves, through window cracks, and up the sides of the walls. Wisteria can even crack foundations or cause decks to collapse.

Also, while some gardeners grow wisteria trained against a tree, the vine can actually strangle the supporting tree as it twists and climbs the trunk. In addition, all the upward growth has to be supported by a thick tangle of roots in the ground. This will also choke the life out of the tree.

Intricately designed wrought iron trellises and very sturdy arbors and pergolas add style and grace to the garden design, as well as a support for the wisteria.