Growing Wisteria in Zone 4

Karen JurgensenAugust 19, 2005

Does anyone have any experience growing wisteria in zone 4? I'd love to grow some wisteria into a standard in my front yard, which is nice and sunny... I've been researching, and it seems like japanese wisteria may be marginally hardy in my area. I know this is a more invasive vine than the American wisteria, but I don't think that variety would make it in our cold winters. I'm hoping if I can protect the vine somehow- (wrapping it or mulching?) I can get it to overwinter successfully.

Does anyone have any advice or tips?

Templeflower :)

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Karen Jurgensen

hi all,

After a much research, I came across a Wisteria Macrostaycha (sp?) variety called 'Blue Moon' which has been bred to withstand cold winters to -40. Has anyone had any experience with this variety?

Also- if I want to develop the vine into a standard form, what sort of support(s) do I need to buy/build?

All help is apprecitaed!

Templeflower :)

1 Like    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 11:02AM
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Where did you find the cold-hardy wisteria for sale at? I would like to try my hand at it also. Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 4:07AM
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Karen Jurgensen

One source was a small locally owned MN nursery called "Rice Creek Gardens" Thy'll be shipping the wisteria again in the spring I think. They're at

You can also try doing an internet search for Kentucky Wisteria or Wisteria macrostachya! Looks like the specific Blue Moon variety is the one bred for cold regions, the rest of the varieties I've seen are all zone 5 max.

Perks the interest of us northern gardeners, doesn't it! I can't wait to try it out!

Tenmpleflower :)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 2:42PM
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Mcfrank(5 MT)

Hi from Montana, where I'm in borderline zone 5, but its Montana, where our winter temps can fluctuate 50-60 degrees in a 24 hour period. I planted Rice Creek's "Blue Moon" 3 or 4 years ago, and with only one bloom its first year, the vine itself is doing quite well. What I received in the mail was a very tiny little plant that put on about 10 ft of growth the first summer. I have been pruning it agressively every spring to encourage blooming, but nothing yet. If you can swing the high price, I'd encourage you to try it; I'm not giving up yet that it will bloom in my lifetime!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 12:11AM
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I've grown Blue Moon wisteria for 7 years. It is trained to a standard around a tall, sturdy copper pipe. It bloomed its second year with a few trusses. Since then, it has been covered with flowers in early summer and has sporadic rebloom off and on throughout the rest of the season.

It is in a very exposed area and gets no winter protection. Except for rare tip die back, it has suffered no damage.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 11:57PM
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Karen Jurgensen

Kate- How is your standard setup? How tall are the pipe(s), and how did you connect them? Are they in a "T" arrangement, or something a little different? I was thinking of using PVC- do you think this would be sturdy enough?

Templeflower :)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 12:12PM
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    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 10:09AM
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Besides "Blue Moon", you may try "Lawrence". It has a very delicate leaves. Try "Greer Gardens" for this variety.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 11:07AM
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sandaidh(western NY)

I just saw this thread. I'm also in zone 4. I brought two young wisteria vines (in pots) with me when I moved here from the north SF Bay area of CA five winters ago. One is still in its pot, the other is planted in my front yard. When I checked with the local nurseries here, the best we could come up with is "iffy" on the wisteria surviving the winters. They're actually both doing fine. So far.

The potted one comes inside as soon as it goes dormant, and spends the winter in my enclosed, but unheated, front porch. I give it 'some' water about once a month, depending on how cold it is and how damp the soil is. In the spring, when the weather warms up, it goes back outside on my patio, which has a roof, but is otherwise open.

The one planted in the yard, I will admit, gives me a strong case of "nerves" every spring, waiting for it something. It's always the last plant to show any movement in the buds. The first couple years it was very hesitant and the growth wasn't as luxious as I know it can be. This past summer though, it took off like crazy, sending out new growth every which way. For the first time since planting, I actually had to prune a little. I'm wanting this to grow the same way you mention, as a standard.

Winter protection, when it was small enough, was provided by removing the bottom from a cheap plastic garbage can, putting that over the vine, and then filling it with cedar mulch. The second year, the top was higher than the upside down garbage can, so I put a five gallon bucket, upside down, over the top. There was no mulch inside the bucket. I did have some top burnback from the winter temps (which can get -30° here), but the rest of the vine was fine. Last winter, and now, the vine has gotten too tall for the garbage can method, so I went to Home Depot and got a couple 4 ft high, 12 inch diameter, Quick Tubes. These are very heavy cardboard tubes used for pouring concrete pillars. I covered the bottom of one tube, inside and out, with plastic to keep it from getting wet. Then I "bundled up" the branches of the vine to keep them from breaking, and slid the tube over the vine, filling it completely with cedar mulch. Because it tends to be top-heavy, the tube has to be staked so it won't fall over. Then I covered the top with plastic (garbage bag) and duct-taped everything down. Worked last winter, and I expect it'll work again this winter, especially as mild as it's been.

The only other problem I've encountered is that the Japanese beetles LOVE to munch on it. I put a trap out each year, and employ the "two-block" method - smash the beetles between two blocks of wood. Doesn't seem to harm the wisteria at all. This summer, I'm hoping to get some Milky Spore and spread it around the yard to combat the beetle problem.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 9:20PM
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I've been most impressed with "Blue Moon". This is the third year since I purchased two plants from a mail order company and even though they are still quite young, there has been no die back from -23 F. temperatures this winter and they both have loads of flower buds all the way from the ground on up to the top of a trellis bench. I'm excited to see it bloom for the first time. I'll take pictures and put them on a later post.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 3:57PM
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I bought an aunt dee wisteria atleast 7 years ago. We first had it along the back of the house(north facing) supported by a fence panel and some wrought iron trellis. 2years ago we wanted a patio there; so my husband painstakingly dug 6 ft plus roots up and transplanted it to the fence on the eastside. We are using chicken wire and a trellis for a freeform wonderer. We were shocked the first year it bloomed and has gotten larger and continues to bloom. As far as winter care we cover the roots with leaves and mulch but not much more. In its new spot it does get some protection from the winter winds. Id do it again.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:08PM
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