growing wisteria on pergola

marvelousmarvin(SoCal)January 22, 2006

Has anybody done this, and what's been your experience.

I know it would look awesome. But, I'm not sure how feasible it would be. Even though the pergola is attached to the house, the pergola is on brick patio. So, I would probably need to grow the wisteria in a container.

I also have several concerns:

The pergola is attached to the house. Would the wisteria damage the pergola, or the house.

And, wouldn't it exacerbate any termite problems with the wisteria growing on the pergola. We've had previous termite problems, but I would rather not increase any reinfestations.

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I have found the best way to keep the wisteria from damaging stuff is to prune it back, that way it doesn't choke whatever.... and it grows back fine each year. I don't know about termites... we don't have as bad a problem up here... and I have never seen any near the wisteria.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 11:16AM
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patrick_in_fb(Zone 9 So. Calif.)

Termites don't eat green, growing wood, so they wouldn't infect your wisteria. Also, wisteria doesn't have suckers or tendrils, so it's unlikely to bother the house. The only damage it could do to the pergola is to get so heavy it pulls the whole thing down, but pruning religiously would control this. The main problem is, wisteria is FAR too large a vine to grow successfully in in a container for very long. (Unless, of course, you're training it as a bonsai, but that's an entirely different thing.)

Something much better-behaved, like Mandevilla 'Alice du Pont', would do well in a large container (like a half whiskey barrel) - and why not take advantage of living in Southern California, and plant something that most areas of the country can only grow in a greenhouse? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 11:49AM
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jcin_los_angeles(z10, Sunset 22,)

We have a wisteria on a free standing pergola, over a brick patio. It's planted in a square hole where a few bricks were removed. After 17 years the wisteria has covered the pergola and now shades the table and chairs underneath it. When it's blooming in the spring it's heavenly.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 11:48PM
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CA Kate

We had Wisteria totally covering an arbor over our patio. We finally couldn't stand cleaning up the petal-fall for weeks and weeks when it bloomed; and then the hard shelled aphids that coated it black put us over the edge and we ripped it out a few years ago and are still getting suckers coming up in the strangest places. I agree that it would be good if you could choose some other vine.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 4:04PM
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patrick_in_fb(Zone 9 So. Calif.)

It's a messy, aggressive vine, there's no getting around it. I too am bothered by its tendency to sucker everywhere. As for the petal fall, a lot of people love the soft carpet of fallen flowers underneath; you just have to be sure to rake them up before they get too wet, or they'll glue themselves to the pavement!

All that being said, there's nothing more beautiful in the right place.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 5:06PM
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Thanks everybody.

I was thinking of using wisteria because the architectural style of the house is california mediterranean, and that seemed to be an appropriate, authentic plant to use.

I had considered growing grapes, but it seeemed too much work with the pruning and the stains of grapes falling down. Yet, it seems I would also run into the same problems with wisteria.

Next to the brick and the pergola is ground dirt where flowers and trees are growing. I guess I could grow something there, and train it to grow onto the nearest columns of the pergola.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 2:40AM
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patrick_in_fb(Zone 9 So. Calif.)

Wisteria would need every bit as much pruning as a grape, if not more. I think grape is a wonderful idea! They drop their leaves cleanly, and give beautiful fall color in addition to the decorative fruit. And if you plant a good edible variety, you'll probably pick & eat the fruit long before it has a chance to make a mess! Since you have a patch of ground near one of the pillars to plant in, you'd be fine with either one.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:06AM
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CA Kate

Have you thought about using one of the Bouganvilla that get long canes? We had two beautiful ones growing over the arbor above our patio when we lived in Thousand Oaks. They behaved themselves nicely. I have two that I grow in large planters here in Clovis and they seem to do just fine; one has been in it's pot 5 yrs. now.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:44PM
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jcin_los_angeles(z10, Sunset 22,)

My wisteria has never had aphids, it doesn't sucker beyond the original trunk, the fallen petals clean up easily, and we just love it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:30AM
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I imagine the difference in experiences with wisteria boils down to native vs. non-native species. I believe the Asian wisterias tend to take over when used in the US. If you can find our native wistera, I don't think you'll experience the kind of problems people are describing here.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:24PM
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