Wisteria flower buds question

khabbab(10b)January 17, 2013


This vine is 5 years old and in ground. I have mild winters of around 3C these days and spring is approaching in few weeks. My other gardening fellows nearby get their wisteria flowering in February-April. Mine is going dormant now, leaves are all yellow. My questions are as follows:

1- Are flower buds formed or yet to be formed?
2- The buds in pictures are flowers buds or growth buds?
3- Regarding pruning, you can see this vine growth is mostly vertical and not much side shoots. It blooms on old wood i have read. Is it necessary to prune it now?
4- I have GA-3(gibberellic acid) and i read that it can promote flowering. So can i try GA-3 on it to trigger flowering? i use foliar spray of GA-3 but the foliage is almost dying now.

you can see the trunk and stems are thick and old

Thanks in advance.
Muhammad Khabbab
Lahore, Pakistan

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Nice photos, Muhammad! I look forward to learning from others regarding your question because unfortunately I don't have an answer for you. Does Wisteria respond to phosphorus fertilizer to make flowers?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:34AM
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Never tried but i hope it does. I do have a 5:15:45 NPK water soluble fertilizer but not sure if foliar spray would work directly on stems(as leaves are all gone now).

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:38AM
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I think it would be good to use the fertilizer when the plant resumes active growth. Does the wisteria normally have a dormant period in your garden?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:45AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

We're in totally different zones so I'm not sure how much difference that would make in how a wisteria would perform. It looks like yours is a Japanese wisteria (it's twining clockwise; Chinese wisteria twines anti-clockwise) My young Japanese wisteria bloomed for the first time in 2012 at 5 years old. I keep my wisterias well pruned - pruning seems to be the key to getting them to bloom as young as possible. I found the Japanese one kept fooling me by producing relatively fat buds that on my Chinese one would be flowerbuds but turned out to be just foliage buds. When the Japanese one developed flowerbuds last spring, there was no mistaking them because they were huge! But I need to check more often this spring to catch the distinction between them and leaf buds at the very earliest growth stage. Looking at the first picture in particular I can see that yours is near to flowering age because of the short spur with a lot of buds. Once the plant develops those, it's getting near to blooming age - although it may still take a year or two to actually produce its first flowers.

I prune a bit differently than what is usually recommended. I prune all whippy new growths back into the framework I want to develop and only allow long growth if I want to extend the size either vertically or horizontally. That makes for very dense growth and promotes lots of flowering spur development. It seems to work for both the Chinese and Japanese one. I grow both mine as 'trees' to make controlling them easier. A long-arm pruner is a very handy tool to do the pruning.

I never fertilize. Wisterias are legumes and fix their own nitrogen. I think pruning is more important to flower development than fertilizing. BTW the stems on yours are not 'thick and old' - that's still a young plant. The stem will become more tree-trunk-like as they age and if you keep them pruned well.

If I were you, I'd only neaten it up a bit at this point, trying to preserve any stems with those stubby growths. Then see what it does (i.e. do any flower buds appear?) when growth resumes. Then be diligent about pruning/training new growth to shape it as you want.

Japanese wisteria flowerbuds May 2012:

In bloom - 5 year-old plant:

At 3 years old (small 'tree' on right side of bed) with 10 year-old Chinese wisteria 'tree' in flower in the background on the left).

Enjoy your wisteria but you MUST prune it to control it (and get the best flower performormance or it will be a monster! Pruning is a weekly - sometime daily - chore when the vine is young and in the season of maximum growth.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 12:24PM
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@gerris2, yes it is dormant now and will come back in spring.

@woodyoak, thanks for your response. Yes these are not flower buds and it seems mine will not flower for at least an year or two. So the main objective of pruning should be to contain the plant as much as possible from spreading so that the existing stems get thicker and thicker instead of plant energy going into new shoots and when they get thick enough then they will produce flower buds, right?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 4:23AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Yes, at this point concentrate on making the plant have a nice shape, controlled to where you want it the flower display. Japanese wisteria have relatively long flower racemes so look best when the flowers dangle down unrestricted. The individual florets open in succession from base to tip so the foliage is fully developed while the flowers are still opening. Notice that my young Japanese wisteria is being kept with bare stems at the base and all the leafy growth - and the flowers - at the top, while the Chinese wisteria - which has relatively short flower racemes and the individual florets open almost all at once before the leaves unfurl completely - has branches down low because there is less worry about obstructing the flowers when they dangle.

So, think about where you want the wisteria to grow and train some of the new whippy growth to cover that territory. Cut back any other new growth to keep it within the desired shape. The vine will constantly put out new growth, so pruning it is an on-going thing, but pruning it makes it nice and bushy/dense and promotes developing those spur growths that signal maturity and readiness to flower.

I would tidy up what you have now by shortening some of those thin stems that are dangling down above that low window. That would help a lot to make it look neater and more controlled.

You might get lucky and get some flowers this year - I don't know what affect your warmer climate would have on how fast the vine would mature. The Japanese wisterias seem to bloom a bit later than the Chinese ones, so if your neighbours have Chinese ones, yours might not bloom until after theirs are in bloom.

I've attached a link to the pruner I use - they are invaluable for easy snipping off of new growths so you don't need to be constantly dragging out a step-ladder to climb up to prune!

One other point - I can't see clearly what support it is climbing on... The vine will get very heavy and can pull down the supporting structure. Both of our wisterias needed additional supports at the 5-year point! They now both have painted angle-iron supports. Consider whether you need to add additional sturdy iron supports for the vine.

Here is a link that might be useful: long-arm pruners

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:47AM
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woodyoak, i cannot thank you enough. Will try upon your advise. Lets hope i make it right.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 6:48AM
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I'm hoping I didnt ruin my wisteria growth, I cut off the main trunk on top, 2 years ago, after doing this I found that was wrong.
Hoping now the main trunk will pick up from the last bud, hopefully.
what your seeing here is one plant with about 3-4 trunks coming out. This past week I trimmed branches and left 1 on about ever 15 inches, left about a foot of growth on that branch, hopefully it will recover, I read you cant kill a wisteria, I sure you can, but I dont want to even try.
My son built a huge pergola, got 5 plants from a local Lowe's store, they were older plants in a pot.
Bloomed the first year, 2nd year so many flowers we just couldnt count them all...4th year he did not want them any more and cut them down...what a shame...

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 11:04PM
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