wisteria uproot/transplant in ma now (winter)

Loen210February 5, 2013

WISTERIA uproot/transplant in MA now (winter)

Hello All,
After a long search all over the net, I found this forum to seem the most helpful and friendly.

I am in need of help with thoughts, recommendations, tips, and basically if this is realistic...

I am in a small suburb of Boston, MA. I have a dear, beloved friend of mine who recently passed away, and sadly, his home in Newton will be demolished, including his tall patio that has very thick vine (looks like brown thick tree branches) climbing all around the top and sides.

I am not a gardener but would LOVE to preserve and save these by having at least some transplanted to my home (about 15 minute drive from his place in Newton). But it is winter now, and within the next month, the house will be handed over.

The wisteria is now more than 30 years old since he planted them, so the roots are likely spread and thick. I heard that I can simply clip off pieces and have them grow from scratch, which is possible, but I long to preserve more of his beloved plant.

1) Is this possible, also since it is late winter right now.
2) Does anybody know who I would need to hire (affordable hopefully!), recommendations (and would it be landscaper or gardener). Any in this area??
3) Would it be safe to replant it as it is winter, or should the vines somehow be kept indoors until the spring?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have attached a picture of part of his patio, though 11 years ago, so even stronger now.

Many Thanks

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It's a heartbreaker to see such a magnificent plant be taken out. I have no experience growing Wisteria, so I can't be of help. Have you tried calling the Horticulture Specialist at your state's land grant university for advice? Typically these specialists are in the Cooperative Extension Service Department in the College of Agriculture. They may match you up with a Master Gardener for help.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:03PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I have no idea if you could transplant at this time of year. A wisteria the size of the one in the picture is likely to have a very widespread root system which is likely to be difficult to dig up, to move, and to replant. I think I'd be inclined to try to root cuttings. I do know that it's relatively easy to 'force' bloom on cuttings taken around now - a neighbour across the street always takes any of our prunings in early March, puts them in water in her unheated sunroom, and gets nice flowers from them. I suspect with the help of the proper rooting hormone powder, you could root cuttings pretty easily - keep them cool I think rather than at indoor temperatures. It looks like you could get lots of cuttings and there'd be a good chance that at least some would root. You could try different approaches re temperature to keep them at. That would probably be better than risking it all on trying to transplant the whole thing.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Dear Gerri,
Apologies for the late response; I thought I was on the setting to receive emails when somebody posted, and thought that nobody had replied. Thank you very much for writing.

I had not known or thought about "Horticulture Specialist at state land grant university" but should look into that. I was hoping to go this weekend, but just found out that it's going to be a big snowstorm starting tomorrow!

I asked a number of friends, and was just given the name of a pro gardener in my area, so I left a message on her machine today.

Thanks! :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:24PM
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Dear Woody,
Thanks so much for posting. If you read my last entry, you'll see why I had not seen your response until just now. Apologies.

There's supposed to be a big snowstorm starting tomorrow (Friday) here in Boston, which squashes my plans of going over to hopefully get started or at least take more pics so I can show.

Though I did not plan on posting up any person pics showing my face to the public (?), I will try to later that show more shots that can give more of an idea.

I am going to reread your posting again, as it sounds very promising. I hadn't known about "root cuttings" instead of uprooting (which would be touch) or clipping or grafting (which I will have to find out how to do though those were back up actions.

When I finish work, I will try to look up about wisteria and root cutting, that doesn't take up as drastic shoveling in the winter!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:30PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

By 'root cuttings' I just mean take cuttings from the ends of flowering stems and root them in soil by using rooting hormone on the cut end of the stem. You would need the rooting hormone for hardwood cuttings (available in most good garden centers) and this is the appropriate time to take hardwood cuttings - i.e. when the vine is dormant.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:32PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Further thoughts.... Do you know what kind of wisteria it is? I'm guessing Japanese wisteria based on the extent of leaf development at the same time as the flowers; the green - as opposed to bronzy - new leaves; and the flower racemes where it looks like the florets at the tips are not fully open. But, since I can't see the stems to see if it is twining clockwise, I can't tell for sure. The reason I'm asking is that the spurs indicating mature stems ready to flower look somewhat different on the Japanese wisteria vs. the Chinese wisteria. If you're going to take cuttings, it'd be best to take them from stems that are giving visible indication that they are mature enough to flower (either have already flowered or will be ready soon...) Look for stems that have spur growths that look like the ones here:

The stem in that picture is probably too thick to easily root - you'd want to take the cutting nearer the end of the stem.

If you are still thinking of digging the plant(s) up and moving them roots and all, I think you probably wouldn't have to try to get a huge amount of the root system. They're pretty tough hard-to-kill plants so I'd think that if you got mature - but not too old and thick - stems with, say, 5-6' of root attached they would probably survive, although perhaps take a few years to recover from the shock. I'd still be inclined to try to root some stems to to give you a back-up option if the rooted sections didn't survive.

You said you are not a gardener... I hope you realize that wisteria are VERY vigorous plants that are beautiful if well controlled by are monsters if not kept under control. I would never grow them on a pergola like your late friend did - that would involve way too much climbing on ladders to prune the vines! I grow mine as 'trees' in an area where they are accessible on all sides and where they can't grab onto anything to climb on other than the provided support poles (which must be very sturdy (angle-iron works well for a tree form....) And then prune! prune! prune! Pruning can be an almost daily task when they are in their most vigorous growth period! Get a long-arm pruner tool to make pruning easy - and never let the tree get out of reach of the pruner or you'll be spending a lot of time on a ladder!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Dear Woody,
Wow, I so appreciate your very thoughtful and useful feedback. Thank you! I do not know what kind of wisteria they are, but here are 2 close ups on the thick vine part and where they go into the earth (doesn't look like tree trunk, but may be).

I had planned to go this afternoon and take more pics, check out, but as I said, I hadn't been expecting this massive snowstorm, so I was stuck in the house. I hope these pictures post up.

(I also haven't gotten email messages when you replied; not sure why not, since I am signed up.)

I am very thankful to "meet" people like you on the garden forum. Know you are helping! And I will try to keep you up to date on how plans are going. :)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:28PM
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Here is the other (I see we can not post more than 1 pic per posting).

This is a picture of the thick vines growing up the patio poles, which lead to the ceiling of the patio.

Since these are thick (arm width even some places), could these be cut? Or not, because they don't have buds on them until you go up much higher?

Thanks so much, and I have also been waiting for a call back hopefully from a pro gardener I left a message with last week.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:33PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

The e-mail notification thing has never worked! I don't even bother clicking on that box any more!

That is a Japanese wisteria - it is twining clockwise. Can you see that the woody stems rise from lower right to upper left? Chinese wisteria and the native American wisteria twine from lower left to upper right - counter-clockwise. So, you should be able to see the stubby growths that look like the ones I posted earlier. Look for them on the stems at the top where the flowers were and take cuttings from the ends of those stems. Flowers will happen along the stems (but not on those thick stems at the base) as well as on the stubby growth, but the presence of the stubby growths is an indication of a flowering stem. You can see the flowerbuds on both the shorter stubby bit and the longer stem on mine last spring here:

It looks like digging up those thick old stems would be a major job! If you want to try it, I'd first make sure you've taken and tried to root some cuttings, and then cut those big woody bits down to 3' or so and then try to get whatever you can out of the ground - if the place is being demolished, I'd probably try to get one of the contractors to do it with a Bobcat or backhoe! It does not look like a job for someone with a shovel!!

To post multiple pictures in one thread, you need to have them on a photo-hosting site and then copy the appropriate code for the picture into the post here.

I love our wisterias so am always happy to talk about wisterias :-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Again, you are wonderful with your thorough responses. (I just read this one). I went over this past weekend to the house, but the backyard was much too snowy (and it was snowing and blustering again that Sunday).

I so wish that you lived nearby so that I could hire you to help out cutting or such! I would hire you in a blink!

Thanks for the info about the thicker vine part that I should not "clip" or saw off, since it does not have any buds.Was hoping to take those, since they look so strong and like main part of wisteria.

I sent an email to the Massachusetts horticulture masters: UMASS, so hopefully they will respond with some close by referrals. It is getting too close, just 2 weeks until I can not go to/on the property anymore.

Will keep you updated. Thank you, my garden friend!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:22PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

:-) re hiring etc.....

But I am not expressing myself well re instructions.... To clarify - taking cuttings from the thinner branches will have the most chance of success for rooting. If you want to try to take some of the big stems/trunks, the main limitation is the physical difficulty in digging them out. They are also likely well wrapped around the trellis posts and it most likely would not be possible to disentangle them from the post. Hence the suggestion to get the demolition guys to take them out with a backhoe - after cutting them down to 3 feet or so - and that would mean cutting the trellis support posts down too! If everything is being demolished, it's best to let the experts do all that and then try to salvage anything you can - take the cuttings before the demolition so you have some insurance that you might be able to salvage some of it via the rooting of the cuttings. The thick trunks would not produce flower at the base part - but if enough of the roots survive to keep the trunk alive, it will sprout new growth that will - in a year or two with pruning - produce flowers on the new stems. A friend dug out a large wisteria when putting in a pool. The vine got dumped in a back corner, as they assumed the rough removal would have killed it.... It's tough indeed to kill a wisteria! It is now as big and vigorous as ever - but growing where they don't want it to! So, if you can get someone to do the heavy work to get some of the old stuff out safely, it doesn't hurt to make the attempt - but you'd need the help of the heavy equipment I think!

Have you ever seen pictures from the Kawachi Fuji garden in Japan? I'd love to visit there during wisteria bloom season! Note in the pictures in the Google image search in the link below how all the big old limbs need supplemental support to hold them up. Old wisterias can get very woody limbs but the limbs remain flexible and need support - very sturdy support! Don't understimate the support you will need for the vine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kawachi Fuji garden

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

This is all very encouraging! Our new home had a discarded, but not quite dead potted wisteria lying on it's side, and I took cuttings, and noted the green as I cut.

I stuck them in a cup of water, refreshed it now and then, and although we did repot and water the big vine, the cuttings are all showing white root initials, and in a couple weeks, there will be roots!

I look forward to having these beautiful vines in my garden, but I'll keep them contained in large pots. Probably due to the vine paranoia I have from ripping out hundreds of feet of unwanted overgrown co-mingled, intertwangled vines!

Thanks for that link!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:50AM
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