Garden Gem: Our Native Wisteria is a Better Garden Choice

Many people have a love-hate relationship with Chinese Wisteria. The beautiful and fragrant blooms herald the beginning of spring, but it is a tenacious spreader devouring large sections of woodlands. Some people train wisteria as a self-standing tree. This requires continuous pruning and staking, but many find the effort worth the investment. Another simple solution is to plant our native species, Wisteria frutescens.

American Wisteria is a much better behaved vine. Slower growing and later blooming than its Asian relative, it avoids frost damage in late freezes. Native plants are so much better suited to the vagaries of our southern climate. Surviving heat and drought, this climber is a superb choice for arbors, fences, and pergolas. The flower clusters are smaller and more rounded, but still very attractive. The variety most commonly seen in local nurseries is a form called ‘Amethyst Falls.’ Flowers occur in May and the vine prefers sun to part sun.  Reaching 15-20 feet, the growth rate is fast and it is perfectly fine to prune in winter to maintain size. If you have a strong structure that needs an easy to grow flowering vine, American Wisteria is hard to beat.


Hayes Jackson