Support for Wisteria on very large tree trunk...suggestions?

etherealsunshine(5b)August 31, 2011

This summer, I planted two japanese wisteria on opposite sides of a very large old walnut tree trunk. The tree is about three feet in diameter and appears to have been struck by lightning before I lived on the property. The trunk has no branches except one thick (10"?) branch that reaches to the east at approximately 25 feet at the very top where the main trunk was broken off. A portion of the trunk is obviously still alive and feeding that branch and a small bunch of branches coming from the ground at the trunk's base on the north side, so it should still have a decent anchor of roots underfoot even if the west side is slowly rotting away.

The plan is for the wisteria to twine around the tree trunk, eventually reaching the top, covering the ugly bare trunk with foliage, and providing a show in the late spring. The plants were two- and three-year seedlings and have started putting out some tendrils, which I've managed to coax toward the tree trunk.

My concern is that the trunk has no branches except for the one remaining branch at the very top. I've considered mounting heavy duty bolts sticking out about 6" at intervals spiraling up the tree for the vines to grab onto, but I'm not sure if that will be adequate. Lately, I've considered screwing in heavy-duty lag bolt eye screws and setting wire around the tree, but I think it would involve a LOT of hardware to keep the wires an adequate distance from the trunk.

My fear is that if I let the wisteria grow unchecked and without support, it may grab onto the loosening bark that it will inevitably pull off, or wrap itself around the tree to a certain height and then collapse from its own weight. Should I wait for it to take off next summer and drive bolts in to support where the vines lie naturally, adding them as needed? Will the wisteria find a spot to girdle the trunk and support its own weight by itself (I'm not worried about killing the tree)?

Any ideas? I'd like to create a beautiful tangle of vines around this immense stump over the next few years...

Thanks for any advice,

Sunshine

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The plan is for the wisteria to twine around the tree trunk, eventually reaching the top... That's is generally what wisteria does in nature without any help.

...covering the ugly bare trunk with foliage This will need a little help, guiding from you to get it going around the tree slowly, in a spiral, and not straight up.

My fear is that if I let the wisteria grow unchecked and without support, it may grab onto the loosening bark that it will inevitably pull off, or wrap itself around the tree to a certain height and then collapse from its own weight.

Each year's gowth from the wisteria will turn woody, like a tree trunk, likely holding the bark in place longer than it would have stayed attached on its' own, and holding the wisteria in shape and position. My Mom and I have a little wisteria tree in her yard that holds itself up from a single trunk. It's about 5 years old and already bloomed well the past few years.

Will the wisteria find a spot to girdle the trunk and support its own weight by itself (I'm not worried about killing the tree)? The word girdle is usually referred to when a tree is fatally strangled, or an entire ring of bark is removed to cause an organic, albeit slow, death. I think you're saying you want it to spiral up this trunk a and hold itself there? If so, that should be easy if you routinely (couple times a month) guide the shoots more horizontally than they are naturally inclined to go until those parts become woody and it grows out of your reach. Also, pinching the growth tips when you are "arranging" your vine will promote more branches to grow, increasing the "volume" of foliage at the lower level. Vines tend to go up as fast as they can, then spread out as far as they can, and it's easy to end up with a "naked at the bottom" vine if no guidance is given.

Any ideas? I'd like to create a beautiful tangle of vines around this immense stump over the next few years. My idea is to use more than 1 kind of vine, if that interests you. Wisteria bloom for a few weeks, and that's it. Something to bloom later would help increase the beauty from your efforts on this spot. Next year, your wisteria should have a stiff, woody structure on which you could add one of the smaller Clematis, or some type of annual vine. As the wisteria gets bigger, the larger and/or more numerous are the vines you can grow along with it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 4:04PM
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