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American Wisteria Wisteria frutescens

Phonetic Spelling
wis-TEER-ee-ah froo-TESS-enz
Description

Wisteria frutescens, commonly called American wisteria, is a counterclockwise twining deciduous woody vine that grows to 40’ or more. It is native primarily to moist thickets, swampy woods, pond peripheries and stream borders from Virginia to Illinois south to Florida and Texas. Fragrant, pea-like, lilac-purple flowers in drooping racemes to 6” long bloom in April-May after the leaves emerge but before they fully develop. Limited additional summer bloom may occur. Flowers give way to narrow, flattened, smooth seed pods (to 5” long) which ripen in summer. Pods typically split open in fall. Compound, odd-pinnate leaves (each leaf typically with 9-15 lance-shaped leaflets) are deep green. American wisteria is not as aggressive a spreader as Wisteria sinensis(Chinese wisteria). Both Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) and Wisteria sinensis(Chinese wisteria) twine in a counterclockwise direction but Wisteria floribunda(Japanese wisteria) twines clockwise.

It is best grown in slightly acidic, humusy, moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Full sun is needed for best flowering. Although vines may produce flowers by the second or third year after planting, first flowering may take longer. Vines need regular pruning(s) in order to control size and shape of the plant and to encourage flowering. Consult a pruning guide for specifics on the initial training of vines and the types of pruning that can or should be done for these plants. An application of fertilizer in early spring can also help stimulate flowering. Choose growing sites wisely because plants dislike being transplanted.

Regions:  Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Wildlife Value:   This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Zarucco Duskywing and long-tailed skipper butterflies.  Butterflies nectar at its blooms.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Although susceptible to a number of foliage-chewing insects and fungal diseases, none are significant. Failure of vines to produce flowers may be attributable to a number of causes including death of flower buds in winter, too much shade, plants too young (especially seed grown ones), improper pruning or overfertilization.

Cultivars:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Amethyst Falls'
  • 'Magnifica'
  • 'Nivea'
  • 'Swantly Purple'
Tags:
#native#purple#fragrant#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#blue#purple flowers#blue flowers#apvg#host plant#cpp#vine
Cultivars:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Amethyst Falls'
  • 'Magnifica'
  • 'Nivea'
  • 'Swantly Purple'
Tags:
#native#purple#fragrant#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#blue#purple flowers#blue flowers#apvg#host plant#cpp#vine
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Wisteria
    Species:
    frutescens
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Distribution:
    Virginia to Illinois south to Florida and Texas
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Vine
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Narrow, flattened, smooth seed pods (to 5” long) which ripen in summer. Pods typically split open in fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant, pea-like, lilac-purple or blue flowers in drooping racemes to 6” long bloom in April-May after the leaves emerge but before they fully develop. Limited additional summer bloom may occur. Flowers can also be white, or have a dark burgundy, or even have hints of yellow or green.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Compound, odd-pinnate leaves (each leaf typically with 9-15 lance-shaped leaflets) are deep green.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer