Purple Hanging Flowers: Wisteria Information and Care Guide

Wisteria vines make show-stopping purple flowers. How do you properly take care of it?

Despite its problematic reputation, many gardeners admire the show-stopping wisteria vine in spring, when it is overflowing with clusters of fragrant blossoms. Unfortunately, this fast-growing perennial can rapidly become unmanageable without proper maintenance.

Today, we will learn all about wisteria’s uses and care requirements, so you can decide if it is a good choice for your garden.

General Information

Wisteria is a robust, cold-hardy climbing/twining vine with large flower panicles that emerge in spring and can last throughout summer. It is recognized for its purple flowers, but can also come in white, pink, and blue. Flower clusters can reach lengths anywhere from 6 inches to 60 feet.

Asian wisterias can be aggressive growers that can be a challenge to tame. However, American varieties are easier to hold in check. No matter the origin of the wisteria, all varieties need regular pruning and training to stay healthy. But the work is well worth it.

Usually, wisterias grow into the shape of a tree. But the vines can also be used to cover an arbor or pergola, though they need support from wires, trellises, and other garden structures. With additional work, they can be trained and restricted so that they work as an accent plant in a border or container. 

A wisteria vine covering a house window

Care and Maintenance


Wisteria is best planted between October and April. They can be planted in containers at any time of year, but they are easiest to care for in the fall and winter. They should be cultivated in fertile, well-drained soil.

Wisterias bloom best in full sun, so choose a south- or west-facing wall or pergola for them to climb. Although they will grow in partial shade, they will not flower as well.


Like most perennials, wisterias require watering until they are well established. After the plants have matured, only water them when they are dry. 

Inserting your index finger into a few inches of soil is one way to test for moisture. To avoid disease, distribute water directly to the soil and avoid getting it onto the vine. If grown in pots and baskets, wisterias will need to get watered more frequently.

fully blooming blue english wisteria


Wisteria has a terrible reputation for being difficult to prune. However, this is not true. Get into the habit of pruning your wisteria twice a year. You are then likely to get rewarded with an excellent flower display.

If you intend your wisteria to cover a wall or garden structure, allow the young plant to grow unpruned until it completely covers the structure. Then start trimming on a regular basis to stimulate blooming. 

Summer pruning controls the long branches that are heading out, encouraging them to produce flowering spikes instead. To clean the plant before spring, cut the branches down into two to three buds, approximately 4 inches long each.


Seed-raised wisteria can take up to 20 years to bloom. In professional nurseries, wisteria is normally propagated through grafting, but for the home gardener, layering is the simplest and most dependable approach to increase stock.

After a long summer, established wisteria will produce hanging, bean-like seedpods. However, plants grown from these seeds are often of poor quality.

a mature wisteria vine fully covering a tree with its flowers

Landscape Uses

Wisteria is a prominent plant in green architecture because it can hide an unsightly area. It can drape magnificent flower curtains over the yard and provide wind and sun protection.

It is used in the landscape as a vine or tree, but as I have already pointed out, it can be cultivated in pots. Its charm stems from the fact that it has a remarkable ornamental value while taking up very little space.

The vines climb walls and wrap around pillars to provide a lovely frame for a house. They also look wonderful when trained to loop in and out of the planks of a split-rail fence. Allowing it to drape over a longer pergola creates the illusion of being a tunnel.

When grown over an arbor, it makes a beautiful entranceway to a yard or garden, providing passers-by with a glimpse of the beauty that awaits them. 

beautiful bench overhead vine decorations

Companion Plant

Clematis, a blooming vine that thrives in similar conditions as wisteria, can be cultivated on the same trellis. Both can reach for light through the same arch. A pink-flowered clematis looks great with a deep blue- or purple-flowered wisteria.

While the clematis may fill in any gaps on a wisteria plant, make sure it does not get crowded out. Keep in mind that, even when intertwined, each climbing plant has its own maintenance requirements.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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