Devon on September 13th, 2012

wisteriaIn the western China province of Hubei, the much-loved vine that westerners know simply by the scientific name Wisteria is called chiao teng (beautiful vine). In Japan, it’s called Fuji. By any name, this rambunctious climber with lacy green foliage is an exceptional beauty in bloom.

Dramatic clusters of flowers in blue, pink, purple, and white can dangle from 1 to 3 feet in length. You can train these twining woody vines as climbers, ground covers, or trees (tree wisterias are often sold already trained). Plants will thrive in any soil that drains well and in every climate zone in the West. Make sure, though, that you have room to grow them: Wisterias are vigorous, even rampant growers. Chinese and Japanese wisterias are the most widely sold types. Silky wisterias, also from Japan, deserve equal attention. Here are a few varieties:

cooke1) Cooke’s Special Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Cooke’s Special) Chinese variety with clusters of fragrant blue-purple flowers are 20 inches long. This variety can rebloom.

caroline2) Caroline Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisCaroline’) Japanese variety mauve flowers come out in early spring. The variety is fast growing and early flowering.

macrobotrys3) Longissima Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisMacrobotrys’) Japanese variety. Grows exceptionally long clusters (sometimes as long as 3 feet) of moderately scented violet-purple flowers.

royal4) Black Dragon Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisRoyal Purple’)┬áJapanese variety. Sweetly scented dark purple flowers emerge in midspring before leaves.

white5) Snow Showers Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisShiro Noda’) Japanese variety. Blooms in long clusters of densely packed white flowers. In Wisterias, Valder calls the late-flowering ‘Shiro Noda’ “one of the most beautiful of all,” although it has poor autumn color.

violacea6) Murasaki Kapitan Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisViolacea’)┬áSilky variety. Profuse blue-violet blooms in early spring. Twines clockwise.

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