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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. The 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. The vines may produce flowers by the second or third year after planting, but it may take longer. Vines need regular pruning(s) in order to control the 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.

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Although susceptible to a number of foliage-chewing insects and fungal diseases, none are significant. There are a number of reasons that vines may fail to flower including frost damage to flower buds in winter, too much shade, plants too young (especially seed grown ones), improper pruning or overfertilization.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Amethyst Falls'
  • 'Magnifica'
  • 'Nivea'
  • 'Swantly Purple'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#blue#wildlife plant#purple flowers#blue flowers#apvg#host plant#cpp#NC native#vine#native garden#native vine#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Amethyst Falls'
  • 'Magnifica'
  • 'Nivea'
  • 'Swantly Purple'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#blue#wildlife plant#purple flowers#blue flowers#apvg#host plant#cpp#NC native#vine#native garden#native vine#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Wisteria
    Species:
    frutescens
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Distribution:
    Virginia to Illinois south to Florida and Texas
    Wildlife Value:
    Host plant for Zarucco Duskywing and Long-Tailed Skipper butterflies. Butterflies nectar at the blooms.
    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:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    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:
    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