Converting old wisteria vine to 'tree' form, help!

sheloolieJune 15, 2009

Hoping someone can help me....I have two wisterias, a white and a purple Chinese. Both are about 15 years old. They have been rampant, the white one covering a patio arbor that's 20 by 30 feet, attached to the house. During a wildfire last month in our area, on the advice of the fire department my husband cut both vines back right to the trunks. They had earlier told us the vines and wooden arbor attached to the house were a fire hazard (we live in a high-fire area) and now we have removed the arbor and decided not to let the plants grow as vines. It was quite a tough decision for me as they give the most beautiful and prolific bloom show every spring.

So now I have these two potential wisteria "trees". Each one has 4-5 main "trunk" uprights, the thickest about 8 inches in diameter, thinnest about 2 inches. Both plants are cut off at about 7 feet in height now, and there are a few thick side branches going outwards near the tops of each. Both are beginning to send out new shoots, the purple one prolifically all up and down the trunk (showing flower buds, too), the white one less growth but some, from top to bottom.

I started pulling off the new growth on the lower five feet of the purple one today and then wondered if it woud be possible to leave it as a sort of column, with shoots growing out over the whole surface? I've never seen that done but this purple flowering specimen always gets blossom on relatively short shoots all the way to the ground, so it seems it could work. I would love to hear if that sounds crazy to someone more expert!

The white one I will try to train into a cascading sort of tree form, like a fountain. It's only about four feet from the house, so I'll have to keep it tight. Should I try to eliminate a couple of the "trunk" stems, do you think? I have never heard of anyone trying to convert a vining wisteria to a more compact form, especially after it has reached maturity. But the things are so healthy and vigorous I am hoping they will thrive even if not allowed to do what they do best--grow like crazy!

The March 30, 08 post by ladybug2u2 was very helpful in describing how to train a young vine into a tree form, but I would love further input if anyone has any brainstorms.

Thanks very much.

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