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Mistreat Your Wisteria for Better Blooms

20160114A.jpgYour wisteria (Wisteria sp.) isn’t blooming? Or at least not as heavily as you would like? Here are some solutions:

First, be patient: most will only begin to bloom with any real abundance in their seventh or eighth year. Also, you have to plant them in full sun and, in colder climates, in a spot protected from the wind. But above all, you have to mistreat and neglect them. Give them truly crumby soil: mineral-poor, stony or sandy. Avoid fertilizing, especially with nitrogen-rich fertilizers (the first number on any fertilizer package should be close to 0), because nitrogen stimulates the growth of stems and leaves at the expense of flowers!

If in spite of all your negligence, your wisteria has not bloomed after 10 years, it’s time to be even more sadistic. With a very sharp shovel, cut all around the plant in the spring, about 18 inches (45 cm) from the stem, thus severing many of its roots. Such an apparent massacre often has the effect of stimulating a massive bloom… but only the following year!

Once a wisteria does get going, its flowering is usually pretty faithful. But considerable patience is required!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Mistreat Your Wisteria for Better Blooms

  1. Well, 2016 my wisteria is going to the “root barber”!
    Love you posts! Great info! Thanks!

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