Alphabetical Plant Listing

Wisteria Varieties for Small Gardens

Chinese Wisteria, Japanese Wisteria, Silky Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria floribunda, Wisteria brachybotrys


The beauty of the pendulous racemes hanging down to form a colorful curtain of scented flowers in spring and summer, the elegant foliage, the fascinating drooping seed pods, the fall colors of most varieties and the attractive gnarled trunks and twisted branches in winter, make Wisteria one of the best ornamental vines.

Wisterias are vigorous, deciduous climbers that need a large amount of growing space. However, their lacy foliage and exceptional beauty in bloom can still be enjoyed in small gardens, if they are trained as a standard, with their flowers hanging down like porcelain drop earrings. As an added bonus, your Wisteria will be easy to prune since you will not need any stepladders.

Wisterias with short flower clusters would be more suitable for this type of planting.

  • Among the Japanese Wisterias (Wisteria floribunda), you will find a pretty candidate in 'Domino'.
  • Most Silky Wisterias (Wisteria brachybotrys or Wisteria venusta) would also be adequate with their broad racemes of strongly scented, heavy-textured flowers blooming early in the season. These come in a pretty color range, from 'Shiro-kapitan’ in white, to 'Okayama’ in mauve and 'Showa-Beni’ in pink.

Training Wisterias as standards

Standard wisterias can be grown either as specimens in a border, or in a large pot.

  • Start with a young, single-stemmed plant, and insert a 4-5ft stout support (120-150 cm) about 1-3 in. away (2-7 cm) from the base of your young wisteria. This will be used to create the main stem of the ‘lollipop’
  • If planting in a pot, make sure the wisteria is planted to the same depth as it was in its pot from the nursery, spreading out the roots and loosening the root ball before planting.
  • Train the stem vertically up the support (do not wind the main stem around the support as this may result in a weakly stemmed tree).
  • Tie cloth strips every 8 in. (20 cm) around the stem and support, tight enough to provide support, but loose enough to allow the stem to expand.
  • Allow the plant to grow unchecked until it reaches the top of the support and then cut off the top of the main stem (cut just above a growth node) to encourage the formation of sideshoots.
  • Prune the sideshoots to 6-12 in. (15-30cm) the following winter and repeat this process each winter to encourage additional lateral shoots to grow and fill out the top of the tree.
  • Keep the wisteria's trunk free from side shoots below the point of branching.
  • Prune out any dead or misplaced branches in the late winter when the plant is dormant.
  • As the head develops, prune in late summer as well. Cut off the tips of the lateral branches that are not needed to extend the head, once they show six to seven leaves.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Climbers
Plant Family Wisteria
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance High
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises, Small Gardens, Wall-Side Borders, Walls and Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Compare All Wisteria Great Plant Combination Ideas with Wisteria Guides with Wisteria

zcytsag / 123RF Stock Photo

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Climbers
Plant Family Wisteria
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance High
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises, Small Gardens, Wall-Side Borders, Walls and Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Compare All Wisteria Great Plant Combination Ideas with Wisteria Guides with Wisteria

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