Creating A Wisteria Standard
Controling? An Old Favourite


I’ve always loved the look of a huge Wisteria in bloom. I have resisted planting one because I really don’t have the trellis to climb it on. Then one day, reading a British gardening magazine I saw a picture of a Wisteria grown as a standard. Now this is not something that any sane or casual gardener would ever contemplate. Therefore I have undertaken the project. Oh! A standard? It’s a plant that is usually a vine or multi stemmed shrub, pruned and prodded into growing as a free standing tree form.

Wisteria potted How To Begin! I should have started by researching which of the several species of Wisteria would grow the slowest, have the strongest, thickest trunk and flower most reliably in my part of the world. Most Wisteria often have their flower buds frozen off in my zone. I had a gift certificate at the local nursery so I went and looked at their Wisteria. The first one I looked at was within my budget. I looked through the group and chose the one with the single strongest stem. It apparently was a different species and therefore double the price. So I chose the thinner, two stemmed one that fit my budget. I now, obviously, have the perfect plant to force into a standard.

Where To Put It? I carefully figured out how big it would or could grow and then measured out spots to make sure I had enough space and it wouldn’t cast its heavy shade where I didn’t want it. I thought about that location for a week or so in order to make sure it was the best spot; not to avoid the work involved as some have suggested. Changed my mind and moved from the front yard to the back yard because it had more space and needed a more colourful feature. (It has been suggested that I invest in some nattier gardening clothes.)

Digging The Hole! Created a pole, (4" x 4" pressure treated lumber with a little platform on top to hold future spokes,) to help support the vine until it, hopefully someday, thickened enough to be almost self supporting. Dug the hole. 30 cm (12") of nice topsoil and then 8 - 10 cm of strange sandstone rock. Do I change locations or chip through it? 40 minutes later I find reasonable clay soil under the rock that will help to firmly hold up the pole.

Initial Pruning! The pole is planted and the new Wisteria is pruned. There are now only the 2 main stalks with all of the developing side branches trimmed off. As it grows next spring I will continue to remove any side branches that start to grow and secure the two main stems to the pole. They will probably wind around it and I wonder if I can wind one in each direction or is Wisteria genetically disposed to twine in one particular way? Interesting experiment.

What Have I Planted?
I have Wisteria macrostachya Aunt Dee ready to do amazing things in my back yard. My best reference book, which I should have read much earlier, lists W. macrostachya as being the latest to flower and being native to swamps from Illinois to Arkansas. I probably should have spent the extra dollars; although further research indicates that this American Wisteria is much better behaved and grows more slowly so maybe I lucked out. W. floribunda a Japanese native or W. sinensis a chinese native, both of which are more commonly grown, are listed as hardier and probably sturdier.

Should you be adventurous enough to try this technique. Follow this page to see what happens and learn from my mistakes. I do wonder at nurseries that sell plants that may not be hardy in their zone. Maybe they are testing their guarantees.

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