Wisteria tree vs. Wisteria vine

dionysus.godJanuary 18, 2007

What exactly is the difference between wisteria vine and the wisteria tree(other than prices)? We're planning on getting one and I would prefer to go with the cheaper option if it will work.

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Mike Larkin

I don' think there is any difference other than the fact that one was trained (prunned) to stand upright. My guess is that the tree form would almost always be more expensive. I guess it really depends on how you want to use it in the landscape. If you want a tree form for the middle of your yard - I would obviously buy the tree form over the vine. If you want just a vine to climb up a trellis - then buy the vine.

My suggestion is to try to purchase a plant that is blooming in the nursery, and let price be a secondary factor!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 3:27PM
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AND--if you buy the 'tree' form, you'll have to prune it diligently in order to KEEP it as a 'tree'---that's just 'not natural' for wisteria.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 11:23PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yes, training a wisteria to a STANDARD or TREE-FORM style is not for the faint of heart. You can't be afraid of pruning! It will take some research to understand the methods and determination to maintain the form for ever.

If you do some googling using 'wisteria standard' or wisteria tree form' as key words, you'll likely come up with lots of good web sites.

As far as I'm concerned, it would be a totally worthwhile endeavor! I've seen some beauties trained that way.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 3:47PM
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Can anyone suggest a hardy variety, as a climber over a pergola and wires [we face in a south east direction] The area we're looking to cover is about 20 metres ! therefore is it better to have a few rather than jus the one ?
The variety has to be drought tolerate and grow in sandy and alkaline soils.

Thanks from a cool and breezy Spanish morning


    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 2:33AM
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try wisteria sienesis. it's hardy, it grows fast an it's beautiful. if you put one on each side, it'll grow evenly.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 10:21AM
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Does anyone know whether it is possible to grow a wisteria vine from something other than a seed? I am kind of seeking instant gratification... Is this possible or should I try something else for now? I'd like something kind of viney that could hang over a balcony. Any suggestions?


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 3:32PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

If you're willing to wait 20-21 years to see flowers if at all then seed is the way to go!
You can root a piece by layering from a plant that is already blooming, only way I've tried is to take a length of vine, bend it to the ground, bury part of it and place a heavy rock over the buried part, wait a year and it may root.
Otherwise best bet, buy one at a nursery already in flower! May not be cheap but you'll see flowers again!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 8:02AM
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Hello Anne with the Wisteria's question . As being a tree-nursery-man for all my life, I can tell you, that most of those blooming varieties of Wisteria are grafted on to seedlings. You can find them in many different colors. With long and small panicles. But the best var. are mostly left-winding! Of course, grafted plants are more expensive than seedlings, but you will have much more pleasure to see them flowering. Best wishes from Ziggy22

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 1:22PM
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you could try a cutting. that would be a good choice.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 11:45AM
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Just go out in the woods and dig some up that are already braided and thick. I hacked 5 off at chest height and dug up about 3 feet of the main vine with very little roots attached. Placed them in shallow holes, staked and watered. The stuff is a weed and will grow from almost nothing. I now have 5 beautiful wisteria trees. Word of caution: do not place them within about 15 feet of anything they can climb and be ready to prune about every 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 12:16PM
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I'm glad I found this thread. I was wondering the same thing. I bought the root but haven't planted it yet. I was going to plant it in yard foe the tree kind because they are beautiful BUT I don't think I can keep up with pruning every two weeks so I will plant it next to a big tree and just let it do it's thing. :) I think wisteria is beautiful no matter where it's located. I had a white one (why it was white I don't know) that I grew on a trellis before at another house and I constantly had to prune it so I dug it up and put it by a tree.
That one didn't want to bloom(when I first had it on trellis) but someone told me to prune the roots and that worked like magic. Just stab the ground around the bottom with a shovel.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 2:04AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Here in zone 7, I have a co-worker whose wisteria is nothing but work! Runners all over the yard and more plants sprouting from seed. The vines run about 30 ft (!) up into tall pine trees and the wisteria "trunk" is about 8 inches across! Watch out where you plant it! I would think it would be less invasive in colder areas. (I looked it up and both the chinese and the japanese varieties are listed as invasive here in NC). I want one but I have to find one that I'm sure I will be able to control first. Brandy

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 7:13PM
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I am also in coastal NC. :) The tree I will let the wisteria grow up is out of the way so hopefully it won't ever be a problem. I have heard that eventually wisteria will kill the tree it is on but I have seen trees that have had the stuff on it a long long time and they are still alive.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 11:41PM
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I have an 80 foot long vine growing up and across my 3rd story deck. The deck needs replacing and the Wisteria cannot be supported while the deck is replaced underneath it. It has a 6 inch diameter at the base and a 5 inch diameter 40 feet from the base where it takes a 90 degree turn upwards to climb the 25 feet to the railing of the deck. There it branches in two directions along the railing for another 15 to 20 feet.

Is there enough flexibility in the lower part of the vine to where I can lay the whole thing on the ground without breaking it?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 11:26AM
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I planted seed from some wisteria growing in the woods near my home, and trained/pruned the vine into a 'tree form' The vine bloomed between it's 6th and 7th year of growth. During the time I was waiting for it to bloom, I was busy each year training it into the tree form. Growing and maintaining a wisteria vine or tree form is not for the faint of heart. If you are a person who is not willing to put the time in to physically check on the plant about once a month to pinch back growth then it's not the plant for you. The plant is easily maintained when new growth can be easily pinched or snipped. But if you haven't checked it often, then you're going to find large branches and runners that need the loppers to bring it under control.
Wisteria can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, layering and root grafting. The premise is that root grafting tends to reduce suckering at the base of the vine. I am growing wild seeds now to harvest the roots to graft some of my American species onto it. If more info is needed, just Google "root grafting" There is lots of info out there about it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 11:38PM
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If there is no chance that you can ever keep up the consistent pruning and cutting back of new shoots, something which I do once ever 2-4 weeks during the growing season, then, you should not be growing a wisteria (except for the native northa american species). It will not do the wisteria any justice, as the flower production is poor on a poorly maintained specimen, and you will eventually end up with a monster on your hand.

Trainig a wisteria into a standard is not as difficult as it sounds. The most important requirment is a strong, long lasting support. I know that some people recommend twing several canes together, but the ones that I have trained in this manner invariably collapses it's trunk when the top incrases in size. To get a jump start on the process (it takes at least 4-5 years of training to get a good specimen), you can air layer a larger stem to start off with. A one inch cane air layered will make a good standard withing 3 -4 years.

One of our standard trained wisteria:

The same wisteria in bloom:

It does not have to be a perfectly symmetrical shape - this "bonsai" style works well too:

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 7:13PM
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I was told to always buy a wisteria that has blooms on it ... from seed & also from some plants there are some that NEVER bloom! I was told to not fertilize or 'baby' the wisteria & try chopping around the base a ways out to stress it to try to get it to bloom.Don't give up though for a few years before digging it out! Fortunately, I have a 50 yr. old tree wisteria (I pruned it that way) & a vine over a porch & both bloom beautifully each spring (in bloom now) if we don't get a late frost. I prune the heck out of each in summer after the first bloom is over. They bloom some off & on all summer too.

I wonder what the difference is between the Japanese & the Chinese varieties as to color, fragrance,hardiness, etc.?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 3:35PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

I thought I would resurrect this thread so everyone can enjoy the stunning pics that Cactus Joe posted.
I did finally buy an American wisteria this yr. And it doesn't smell very good, unfortunately. It is still a beautiful vine, though. Brandy

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 6:35AM
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I have a wisteria tree unknown to me until just recently. I prune mine constantly because it blocks the view pulling out of my driveway. So I think that is why mine blooms from the end of spring straight through the fall.

I didn't realize this was a "vine" I always thought it was a tree with vine like leaves that poked out. I am going to have to re examine it more closely now.

One thing I do know is that it is absolutly breathtaking when all bloomed out!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:13AM
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crueltyfre(Tampa 9a heat 10 sunset 26)

I see this is an old discussion but... there is a difference between tree and vine. I have both and they are not at all similar in growth habit. The vine is just that, a vine that has grown up a pine tree and out into every limb, probably 100' by now. The tree, of the same age, has never gotten over 6' tall. It has a clear trunk and limbs. The limbs send out pieces that look like vines but do not act like vines. It gets pruned maybe once a year. The vine has never bloomed while the tree blooms every year. Pictures of my tree one at the link below, info on the tree form here.


Here is a link that might be useful: My garden and some trades here

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:32AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I know this is an old thread (but with a recent post) so I'll just ask here and hope someone 'might' know.

there is a difference between tree and vine. I have both and they are not at all similar in growth habit.
Crueltyfire, or anyone, do you know the name of the cultivar that is sold as a tree wisteria.

But the best var. are mostly left-winding!
I have read before about some winding to the left and some to the right. Might anyone know which cultivars might be the left winding ones? My next question is then going to be, How does one tell which one is left and which is right? I have one going around a power pole and it goes in one direction from the back of the pole, and in the opposite direction from the front of the pole.



    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 10:33PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Sue, Wisteria is a woody vine. A wisteria 'tree' is simply wisteria trained to a standard, or tree-like form. With a great deal of patience and attention, any of the wisteria could potentially be trained to a standard, personally I think it's a whole lot of trouble for the effect. I bought mine already started - just keeping it up was as much as I wanted to deal with. Breathtaking for a few short weeks, then losing its charm the rest of the year :)
Japanese (W. floribunda) twines clockwise (from right to left) and the Chinese (W. sinensis) vines twist from the left (anticlockwise)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:27PM
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I just bought a wisteria tree from a local nursery.
It is chinese wisteria grafted onto a tree.
They don't get real big, 4-6 foot tall after many years, and the wisteria grafted on top of the standard tree trunk is pretty tame, doesn't require alot of pruning.
I bought it because it smells so good. (and it is beautiful)
you would have to check out nurseries for this type of wisteria tree.
It's sooo beautiful and smells so good, I definately think it is worth having.
By the way, it's still blooming after 2 weeks.
Google wisteria tree online.
Check them out.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 10:08PM
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Gypsy_NC(Zone 7b)

Cactus Joe - do you mind sharing info on exactly how you trained your wisteria "bonsai"?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 9:38AM
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ginnypenny(East TXZ8)

Ok, so I understand that the chinese wisteria is the most fragrant? Right?

How do you keep the runner roots in check? I REALLY want a tree version at the farm, but am petrified of getting it all over every where. If I plant it in the bottom half of a plastic 55 gallon barrel, with drainage holes in the bottom, will this keep it in check?

I had a vine at a house we bought, and the ground runners were MUCH more trouble than the vines in the trees.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 1:21AM
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There is no difference. The tree form is obtained by several years of diligent pruning. My best suggestion is to build a small pergola. A small wisteria(6ft high) can fill a small pergola in a matter of a few years or so.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 4:35PM
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I know this thread is quite old....but I am wondering what type of growth rate I could expect if I tried Wisteria this year? I have a treeline alongside my yard, where my son's large playhouse is also. I thought it would be neat/fun to grow something beautiful like this, that might vine over the playhouse and in the trees?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:32PM
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wisteria is very aggressive. however if you do not get one that was grafted then it will likely not flower for several years. expect several feet of growth in a year, not sure of specific measurements. I hope this helps some

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:48PM
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I'd love to be able to grow a wisteria along my patio trellis but need to know if it's possible for them to grow in a large pot? If it's possible which type would work best and could I get it already flowering? I don't want to have to wait to long for it to start climbing. Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:54PM
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My understanding is that it can be grown from a large pot, but we're talking A VERY LARGE POT. I think I've read that people have grown wisteria using a large wooden barrels as a pot. To me this sounds like a great idea as you can better control the root growth and readily move it and or get rid of it if you decide that it's not working out.

There is an "American" strain of wisteria (frutescens) and a "Kentucky" strain of wisteria (macrostachya). I believe the Kentucky strain is an off-shoot of the American strain. I have read that the Kentucky strains tend to have more fragrance then the American however reports are conflicting. I have an American (Amethyst Falls) and a Kentucky (Blue Moon; which I just received). Both bloom in late May/June. Hopefully I will be able to report back and let everyone know which non-Asian strain has the more pleasant fragrance.

I'd also recommend using the American versions for pot growth as they don't grow as quickly and bloom faster once transplanted. A good Kentucky Wisteria like Aunt Dee or Blue Moon would probably be your best bet.

The cons with American/Kentucky is that the blooms are not as large or as fragrant (some say certain American/Kentucky strains smell like "cat pee") so make sure you can smell the blooms before purchase if that's a big deal to you. But they the American strain is more cold hardy, blooms faster following transplant, will re-bloom if pruned correctly and are far easier to manage due to their reduced growth rate.

Whichever you decide, make sure you purchase your wisteria from a local nursery so you can see if it is already blooming. If not blooming it may take forever and/or may never bloom. Therefore NOW is the time to look for one since they are in bloom and/or budding to go into bloom.


This post was edited by smithmal on Mon, May 6, 13 at 16:47

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Why wont my wisteria flower?planted over ten years ago ,lots of lovely healthy foliage but no blooms.:(

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Wisteria grown from seed can take as long as 20-25 years before it flowers. That's why most wisteria plants found in nurseries are grafted onto mature rootstock.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 3:13PM
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blakrab Centex(8a)

N00b question: Is this Wisteria, or something else?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Yes. That is wisteria. It's beautiful!
Does it have a pleasant smell?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 7:52PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

I'm glad this thread has been revived; I'll have to read all of it when I have time. I'm just getting into wisteria and this will help...bart

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 5:15AM
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Is the above posted wisteria pic by blakrab, is that pink wisteria? I have never seen that color wisteria. I have seen lot of purple shades and white one If it's pink then it looks amazing and I do want to know how the flower smells?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 7:13AM
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That looks like "Pink Ice" Wisteria which is a Wisteria floribunda variety. Floribunda wisteria are Japanese wisteria which are incredibly beautiful, incredibly fragrant and INCREDIBLY INVASIVE.

You would not want to plant this near your home, a tree or near a septic system/well. Your support must be incredibly strong as wisteria vines can become "Jurassic" over time.

I'd love to have a Floribunda vine, but the risks/maintenance involved in dealing with the vine make it a deal breaker for me.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wisteria

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:16AM
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I've had a Wisteria tree for almost 10 years now. Just dug up a wild vine and trimmed every now and then. I have to actually trim it about 3, maybe 4 times during growing season. No biggie. Snip a few tops and where it sprouts along the ground. Beautiful blooms every year. Planted another closer out front today. I'll never let it grow so high I can't reach it from the ground.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:31PM
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How do you control wisteria? The vine was already planted when we bought the house in 1979. The lot next door is vacant and the vine has sent underground runners everywhere. I am constantly cutting runners, pulling them out of my trees, tripping over them and digging them up. Most of the trees in the lot next door are dead. It looks like a jungle of wisteria vines. They are climbing telephone poles and running through the wires overhead.The vines reach 4-6 inches (or more) in diameter requiring a saw to cut through. I seem to be fighting a losing battle just to keep my property clear and my trees from being overrun and choked. This thing is like the Kudzu in the South, overtaking everything. I would appreciate any suggestions.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:56PM
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I live here in the south, too. Don't seem to have a problem like you are having, though. All those vines must have been growing a long, long time. Maybe you could cut the main source and apply some of the stuff they use on tree stumps, to kill them. Here we are overrun with the Chinese Privet. If I had to choose which to fight, believe I'd rather fight the wisteria roots than the Privet. It takes over like it's grass. If we didn't mow, it would be a jungle out here. I mean like a sea of it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:19AM
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