Controlling Wisteria - Any Ideas?

ButterflyWrangler(TN)August 12, 2004

I'm moving two large wisteria plants. They sent runners all over the place. I'm wondering if I really want these. Is there some way to control them so I am not battling it all the time? I want to build an arbor for the vines to grow on. Can I plant them in 5 gallon buckets and sink them in the ground? Will this control some of the invasiveness? I think I really want to continue to grow wisteria, but I don't have enough space for it to go everywhere. Help please!

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you could grow the native american one, wisteria frutescens 'amethyst falls'. it is not as showy as the asian counterparts but it also is not as aggressive.
the flower panicles are smaller and less fragrant.
i found it at a local nursery in my area.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 4:53PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

In your neck of the woods, you could also grow the southeastern native, Wisteria macrostachys, known variously as Kentucky wisteria and Mississippi wisteria. In my limited experience with these two, W. frutescens seems to less aggressive but I'm not sure how far north it grows. W. macrostachys will be cold hardy in Tennessee.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 6:54PM
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The USDA only recognizes one native species of Wisteria, frutescens and it is native in most of the eastern US and Canada. Locally, some sources still recognize macrostachys as a seperate species or variety and may be labeled as such.
I can sympathize wih anyone trying to control or eradicate the Chinese species. A neighbor planted one on a fence adjacent to me and let it get out of control. They only became concerned when it began destoying their chain-link fence. I have been dealing with the results for 15 years or more. When I think it's eradicated, it pops up somewhere else.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 1:04AM
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Since you already have the vines, and you have seen what they can do, about all you have left is putting them in a pot. My guess is that you will continue to have sprouts from any root left in the old spot. You can treat those with any systemic weed killer like Weed-B-Gon. Eventually you will kill all of the remaining root.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 7:18AM
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Did you mean runners that come up from the root, or runners that are the vine itself? Runners from the vine are going to have to be kept trimmed to keep it in control. If you trim in the early spring, you will lose flowers, but you can certainly cut it back afterwards.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 7:26AM
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WannaBGardener(8b & 4a)

After years of trying to kill the %$#$@ thing off, we gave up, and made it into a small tree. Prune it each spring after it blooms, and keep chopping off any new runners that extend beyond the shape of the tree. By doing this way we have the beautiful spring flowers, and can easily keep the wisteria under control. Its in the side yard, so just mowing the lawn keeps any new shoots from growing. Works for us.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 8:08AM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Thank you, Georgiarose for the correction. I thought my new Amethyst Falls wisteria had very small flower spikes compared to my memories of W. macrostachya but I guess it is just a young plant. I have been spraying new root shoots of a Chinese wisteria that I cut down for two years with Round-up. It is weakening but looks like it could still come back quickly if I gave it a chance.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 4:39PM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

I too have a love-hate relationsip with the vine,,,some of the trunks in my yard must be over 2 feet around and the gnarled limbs are beautiful all year...and breathtaking when in bloom, but I need to keep after the ground runners as well as the seedlings. It is a constant chore, but I couldn't kill it if I wanted to, which I don't. At my last house I had it on an arbor and it was quite managable...just a snip on the long runners. I'm thinking of adding some Japaenese types to the yard. Maybe I'm nuts?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 12:44AM
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Sophie Wheeler

There is a wisteria locally that covers a 50' sycamore tree and has almost completely choked it out. I know of another that covers a whole city block. It can send shoots under siding and pry it off of your house. It can pull down even sturdy arbor and pergolas made with steel. That is what wisteria can do if left unpruned. And, to control it, you'll need to prune 4-6 times a year. Sinking a 5 gallon bucket into the ground won't work either. Either eradicate it now while you have the chance, grow a less invasive but still labor intensive naitive, or plan on monthly hacking sessions with your secateurs.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 10:36AM
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Ok, you all have convinced me that growing wisteria is too much work for me. I just don't think I'll have the time or energy to continuously care for it. So it's outta here.

Thanks for all your information and experiences.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 8:45AM
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josephine_sc(7/8 Clemson, SC)

Plant it in a goat pasture

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 8:21PM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

Roundup herbicide

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 4:24PM
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GTaylorNC(Z7b NC)

5 gallon bucket 1/2 full of roundup. Pull as much of the vine into the bucket as you can. Hopefully the vine will drink up the roundup and pull it down to the roots and kill it.

I love the smell of wisteria, but it is on the same list as Kudzu and Mimosa for me. I hate foreign invasive stuff.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2004 at 9:52PM
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BarbC(8 coastal SC)

Right, HollySprings and GTaylor... it is a noxious WEED. It will destroy structures and KILL large trees. It will never go away, nor can it ever be entirely controlled. It can pop up new sprouts (from roots) 50 ft or more from where the original plant is.

I have a friend who had one his late wife planted before she died, and he hates it but won't get rid of it because it was hers... it has literally come up BENEATH his house and damaged the floors. Is it worth it?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 6:29AM
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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

Dig it up, burn it, poison it, whatever it takes. But most importantly, NEVER let its beautiful velvety seed pods mature and pop.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2004 at 12:53PM
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I have a wisteria that I had been trying to get to bloom for 16 years. I planted it on a fence post and it grew, and grew but never flowered. So, I bought another one. It didn't bloom either. After two more years I built an arbor and moved both of them over to the arbor. I cut it back last summer to keep it from growing into the porcelain berry vine on the other side. This spring I had the most beautiful blooms and was so happy.

My question is, Should I cut off all the seed pods? WestEnder, you said never let the seed pods pop. I guess that's how it really get out of control. The are really big now, some 8 inches long or longer. I don't want to have little plants coming up everywhere.

I think part of my "salvation" if you want to call it that is that I have it planted in my driveway in gravel. I decided to turn that part of my driveway by the side of my house where we used to park cars into the entrance into my garden and we've been planting there for several years now. I have camelias and hostas as well as azaleas and of course the wisteria, all planted in what used to be driveway.

At any rate I'm glad you mentioned the seed pods because I've not really known what to do with them. They look kind of nice hanging down right now but I'd better go cut them off I guess.



    Bookmark   October 1, 2004 at 8:50PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

We once bought a home with a huge old Wisteria on an arbor over the patio outside the kitchen. The first winter we were there I heard something hit the kitchen window one night. All of sudden it sounded like someone was tossing pebbles at the window. When we turned on the lights and looked outside there were large seeds that looked like beans everywhere. The open pods were still hanging from the vine. They can really shoot those seeds a good distance. We had to trim that vine all the time but each time I did, it bloomed profusly again. I found I could keep it flowering most of the summer by snipping at it on a regular basis - and every seed pod we found was removed.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2004 at 8:37AM
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I planted a wisteria against our chain link fence hoping it to drape and cover the ugly fence. After reading the above, I feel as though I have now made a mistake. I planted it last spring; no flowers and only moderate growth through the year.
This year we had beautiful flowers in spite of a late freeze that ruined all of my tulips. The plant is really taking off and I keep tying it to try to train it along the fence.
I noticed that we had about twenty seed pods and was wondering what I should do. (Thanks to your above info, they were trimmed off today - most were 6"-8" long.)
Now I get the feeling that I have some type of invasion of the body snatchers plant now growing in my backyard. Or at the very least - Audrey 2 (Little shop).
If I keep an eye on it and monitor the growth, shouldn't it be ok?
Just a novice to it all and needing some reassurance.

This is the exact forum I have been wanting to find and appreciate all the info that each has contributed.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 6:27PM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

Pulling off the seed pods will help to keep it in control, BUT the main plant will be a vigorous grower and it has been known to cripple and bend chain link fences. Just drive around during bloom time when you can really spot it easily and you can see it taking over huge areas (at least here in NC). Unless you have the native kind (frutens) rather than the chinensis or japonica I would personally be rather wary of planting or keeping it. -Ais.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:49AM
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Linda_in_Duluth(7 Atlanta)

Oh, oh... I've planted one by my chain link fence! I gather that it would be wise to pull out the runners twining in the fence, and maybe just attach on one side. What should I do to train it as a tree? I've seen them like that, and they are beautiful. What's the secret to trimming it? No seed pods, as it's a new plant and no blooms this year....

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 8:32PM
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Let me warn you it will make cattle very ill and can kill them if they get some of the seed me, I know.
I tried for many years to have wisteria, now I so wish that I had just made a trip to South Carolina to see it. Mine is everywhere..have tried Roundup, vinegar..cutting, you name it. It is a pest, a beautiful pest, but it is absolutely out of control. It tends to harbor snakes and other things that I just do not want around. As soon as frost comes, I am going to cut it down with a chain saw and then pour a container of Roundup or anything else you all can suggest on the roots.
Any other thoughts on getting rid of it?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 11:38AM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

Round up is most effective in the fall when the plant is trying to store nutrients for the following year, as the sap is moving in a downward motion to the roots.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 8:46AM
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You are right, Dieter2NC, I get so sick when I think of that mess I have allowed to take over, I get looney!
I have also found and have killed lots of vines by catching them when they are just really young, by clipping and pouring vinegar on them. This has worked with me with wild blackberry vines. I had an infestation with them from using a topsoil that came from a "patch" of them, I am sure.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:02PM
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sinner_gurl(LA z9& HUMID!)

My grandmother planted hers in a concrete type pot about the size of a 5 gal container in the ground. It proved to keep the underground runners to a minimum and has tons of gorgeous blooms since being 'potbound'. I have heard of other people doing this as well. I plan to dig up mine and plant it this way to encourage more blooms. It grows like crazy but no blooms. There is one down the street that has grown up at least 40 feet into the top of the oak tree. It is absoutely breathtaking when in bloom.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 1:23PM
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I have a wisteria that looks like a large bush about 9 feet tall. I think it has been pruned to this shape as the trunk is about 6" in diameter at the base and it has lots of branches. We want to relocate it in our yard. How should we do this?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 10:59AM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Diesel fuel and a match - but I think it will still come back anyway.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 5:45PM
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Is wisteria poisonous to horses? Can it be controlled if it is grown on one of those new vinyl three rail pasture fences with no trees within 40 feet of the fence?

I've noticed a little bit of wisteria growing in the woods a few hundred yards from my property. And I doubt there was ever a home near the site.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 2:39AM
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A: Had all kinds of wisteria on farm, first two years roundup, fuel oil and matches did not get it. Third year, brush be gone killed all of it including some I had never touched before. Put it on leaves in early summer when height growing is maximum. Weed and brush killers work on theory of growing it to death.

B. Have moved to town and planted a wisteria along my 8-foot wooden fence, which looked quite barren. One foot from top of fence I ran a cloths line wire 30 feet in each direction of the tree (vine, whatever you want to call it), and another wire 2 foot below the top wire. Stabilized the wires with ten-inch shelf braces. Must trim the root system about every two weeks. Trim the rest of it monthly. Been eight years now, full sixty foot of fence is covered, blooms two, three times a year, I guess when it feels like it. Fence is holding up fine, but amazing thing to me is the base of the vine isnÂt much over an inch one half in diameter. Thanks for the seed warnings havenÂt paid any attention to it, suppose because I keep the yard mowed.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 1:00PM
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Here's an article from Southern Living on it(I'm quoted - and had calls from friends around the country, as a result. Guess that was my 15 minutes of fame.).

vct, Chinese wisteria will scoff at, and demolish your flimsy little vinyl three-rail fence.
My dad fought the wisteria my grandmother had planted for years - I've seen trunks as big around as my thigh that he sawed through and poisoned in his attempt to rein it in.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wisteria - Beauty or Beast

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 12:14PM
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That will never happen lucky, all you have to do is know how to use a trimmer.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 5:55PM
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The concrete planter is a great idea and I will use that since DH won't be persuaded to not plant it on an arbor behind our house.
A mature wisteria can weigh 1000 pounds, not match for a chain link fence. Bye Bye fence.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 2:46PM
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To Kill It (which you SHOULD DO if it is not well-contained):

Cut main trunks and all shoots arising elsewhere, and immediately daub them with a killer containing 2-4-D- Amine (this is not a brand name; check label for this ingredient).

That is the only thing that will kill it. You may have to repeat this, if you are dealing with a real invasion involving seperate plants.

They are beautiful and fragrant in spring, but MUST be contained. The standard/tree form, in a strong container, is the best bet.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 7:22PM
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gardnpondr(Zone 8)

I agree with Holly Springs on this one!!! I think that stuff could grow through concrete! Don't think the bucket idea will work because sooner or later the trunk WILL fill up that bucket and burst it like a water balloon.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 1:54AM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

Hot Gardener,

If you use your method, how long do you have to wait to plant in the area after using this product?


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:45AM
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True story...cross my heart. My grandmother had an old wisteria that she had kept trained up as a tree. It was beautiful!! As she aged, she didn't keep after it as she once had. It sent out a shoot that managed to reach the space to the house....about ten feet. It then managed to wiggle it's way around the window screen and into the living room. Then it headed for the floor lamp and start twinning around it. By now, I was curious to see where it would go. It went over the top of the lamp shade and was waving about one foot in the air. I have no idea what would have happened as my grandmother finally felt like trimming it. ZAP!!

It was amazing!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:36PM
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We have rampant wisteria popping out of the ground along an old fenceline (the fence is long gone), and I can't seem to locate an original plant that it's all coming from. It never blooms, it's hideous. Here's what works for me. 1)Get a bunch of little plastic vials with rubbery stopper tops - they usually have a slit or hole in the top - from your local florist. They're not expensive. 2)Cut the wisteria to within a foot of the ground, or if you have green shoots coming off woody stems, strip the leaves and use the green shoot-stems. 3)Fill each vial with weed killer (I used Roundup with prevention) and insert the cut end or exposed green shoots into the stopper top so that the ends are immersed in the poison. 4)Leave for a few weeks and the poison should be sucked down into the woody stem and into the roots, or at least a portion of them. If the stem is too stiff, bend it over a bit and masking tape the vial to the lower part of the stem so that its right-side up. I don't like using poison in the yard, but sfter 7 summmers of battle with this hideous eyesore, this is the only thing that has worked for me. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 10:06AM
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I had never thought of using those florist tubes before. That's a good idea.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 4:01PM
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This is great info, everyone. I absolutely MUST try the wisteria for its fragrance and blooms. However, I now know what I'm going to do.. based on this forum.

It won't go in ground...
It won't be allowed to seed....
It won't be attached to or near any structures except its own...
It won't be permanent.

I'll cut the roots down regularly even in the pots. (I love to trim and such.)

I can always make a new start and kill the original ..

The previous owner 3 planted English Ivy aside this little cottage. The bases were 1 foot wide. Stripped the siding off the house when we tried to pull it off. Still fighting sprouts up to 1/4 mile away. I must admit... it was very handsome on a "vanity" yellow cottage with green trim matching the ivy. She even decorated the interior of the cottage in lock-step right down to tea cups and saucers with hand-painted English ivy. Matching wall-paper... blek!

HOLY COW ... English Ivy should be BANNED.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 5:23AM
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For anyone reading this forum - PLEASE do not plant Asian Wisteria under ANY circumstances! Not in a planter, not if you intend to 'keep it under control', not in a city, never and nowhere!
If you put in in a planter, the seeds will pop up everywhere (including neighbor's yards!).
If you plan on 'controlling' it, what happens when you a) move, b) die, or c) go on a vacation...ever? It only takes one season (or less) for Wisteria to become a terrible, uncontrollable, destructive nuisance.
Even in an artificial ecosystem like a city, Wisteria seeds can be carried by animals, wind, and water to natural locations and wreak havoc.
There are SOOOO many alternatives to Asian Wisteria! The stuff should just be outlawed.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:19PM
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