Wisteria Advice

MadSweatz

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Hey guys, I have a few wisteria and Im not really sure what to do with them. The main one is Kentucky Wisteria that Ive had for five years. It has slowly thickened up and is very healthy but has never bloomed. I placed it in a very large pot and only lightly trimmed the runners back last fall. I tried to keep a few branches to give it a generic chance at a shape.

So, my questions is I believe this wisteria is about ready for solid first wiring now that it has a few years and growth. I would like to know opinions on wiring and styling that would be appropriate for this wisteria. I will add a bunch of pictures this afternoon. I will also put measurements in so the scaling makes sense. Thanks for looking guys, any and all opinions are welcome.
 

MadSweatz

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MadSweatz

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It is 4ft tall from the top of the soil to the tallest branch, and 4ft wide from the widest point of the branches.
 

Shibui

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First up, flowering. Wisteria are notorious for having a very long juvenile phase before flowering. From seed arpund 7 years appears to be the minimum to flowering but conditions and care may make the juvenile phase much longer. One of my seedling floribundas flowered for the first time at 21 years.

Shaping: Your plant appears to have a very long, thin trunk. If you are happy with that you can style as is but I think a thicker trunk looks better so I'd be spending more time growing to get a thicker trunk before styling. One good aspect of wisteria is that it will shoot easily when chopped back hard so I would not be looking at the current trunk and branches but allow growth then chop and regrow the whole tree.

If you're happy with a relatively thin trunk you can go ahead and wire or prune to shape the existing branching. Wisteria seem to look far better when shaped to show off the long, hanging flowers so branches a bit higher and spreading like yours are appropriate.
Wisteria need regular hard pruning to maintain a compact structure.
 

MadSweatz

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Thanks for the response!!
What do you recommend to get the trunk to thicken? I was thinking the trunk right now is thin enough to bend still. So I don’t really know if it’s better to cut it all the way back to the main trunk somewhere, or try to bend it and let it thicken slowly?
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Shibui

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What do you recommend to get the trunk to thicken? I was thinking the trunk right now is thin enough to bend still. So I don’t really know if it’s better to cut it all the way back to the main trunk somewhere, or try to bend it and let it thicken slowly?
If you do plan to bend the trunk then definitely do so before it gets too thick. Bends can actually reduce the effective height so sometimes bending can be useful. Pretty sure you will need some fairly thick wire to put reasonable bends in the trunk.
The real problem is that no amount of bending will change the taper of the trunk. Only lots of time or trunk chops and some more time will do that.

Most beginners are reluctant to chop trees back hard and I understand that which is why I offered both options. Both will give different outcomes but both are OK. Its your tree so only you can make the final decision.
 

MadSweatz

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Trimmed it down on the runners and wired it. Any advice on how to adjust the branches would greatly be appreciated. This is my first attempt at this.
 

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MadSweatz

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These are a different branch placement.

It is now 2ft tall by 2’4” wide.
 

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Deep Sea Diver

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Welcome Aboard!

If it was me I’d grow it out for a couple 3-4 years cutting back hard. I’ve a couple wisteria, one blue one white and they grow like weeds.

As is, I’d prune off the lower branch on the inside of the curve. Then wire the branch above it up to become your apex..then. twist the lower trunk down more and maybe back on itself.

Finally cut back each branch and apex by at least 1/3. Plant the cuttings in the pot as these rot easily.

Then take care of it for a year (remember these guys are water hogs!) and see what you want to do from there.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

MadSweatz

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Welcome Aboard!

If it was me I’d grow it out for a couple 3-4 years cutting back hard. I’ve a couple wisteria, one blue one white and they grow like weeds.

As is, I’d prune off the lower branch on the inside of the curve. Then wire the branch above it up to become your apex..then. twist the lower trunk down more and maybe back on itself.

Finally cut back each branch and apex by at least 1/3. Plant the cuttings in the pot as these rot easily.

Then take care of it for a year (remember these guys are water hogs!) and see what you want to do from there.

Cheers
DSD sends
Thank you very much for this input. I kind of feel like I’m wondering around blindly with it. I have been growing it for five years and I believe it was at least two years old when I got it. I will take your advice and attempt to apply it. When you say “twist the lower trunk back on it self” what exactly do you mean?
 

Shibui

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2nd and last pic appear very similar and look better than others from an aesthetic point of view. Branches also seem well placed to imagine long flower racemes hanging down.

BTW Try to work out where you want branches and move them only to that placement. Every bend does some damage. Bending branches back and forth may cause enough damage to kill a branch.

I would still shorten most of the branches significantly. They will only ever grow longer so initial pruning needs to be shorter than desired profile to allow for future growth.
 

MadSweatz

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Welcome Aboard!

If it was me I’d grow it out for a couple 3-4 years cutting back hard. I’ve a couple wisteria, one blue one white and they grow like weeds.

As is, I’d prune off the lower branch on the inside of the curve. Then wire the branch above it up to become your apex..then. twist the lower trunk down more and maybe back on itself.

Finally cut back each branch and apex by at least 1/3. Plant the cuttings in the pot as these rot easily.

Then take care of it for a year (remember these guys are water hogs!) and see what you want to do from there.

Cheers
DSD sends
Looking at the cuts you recommend, I definitely see where you’re coming from with that advice. I’m not exactly sure how to make the next branch the apex though. Also, do you have any thoughts on what might be strong enough to bend the trunk. So far the three wires have bent it into the curl shape but they aren’t strong enough to really bend against the strength of the trunk.
 

MadSweatz

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2nd and last pic appear very similar and look better than others from an aesthetic point of view. Branches also seem well placed to imagine long flower racemes hanging down.

BTW Try to work out where you want branches and move them only to that placement. Every bend does some damage. Bending branches back and forth may cause enough damage to kill a branch.

I would still shorten most of the branches significantly. They will only ever grow longer so initial pruning needs to be shorter than desired profile to allow for future growth.
I will leave them about where they are in these last two pictures. I will take the advice of shortening them all more. Do you also recommend removing the branch on the inside of the curve?
 

19Mateo83

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You will be amazed how thick a wisteria vine can get with time. I’ve been trying to kill one growing through me fence line for years. It was planted about 20 years ago and the trunk is about as thick as your thigh. It has overgrown trees and even caused a leaning one to uproot and fall. Once you find the basic shape you want Trim back the new shoots hard every couple of years and give the roots room to stretch out a bit and yours will turn into a beast before you know it.
 

Shibui

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Do you also recommend removing the branch on the inside of the curve?
Given your tree has so few branches and is still real skinny I think you can get away with leaving that extra branch for a year or 2.
Branches growing close together on the trunk can make the trunk bulge where they join so you will need to monitor and chop as soon as you notice any extra local thickening there. Bar branches are also not really good design because they interfere with visual flow through the trunk.
Until either of those things appear that extra branch will contribute to trunk thickening below that point so I think you should be able to keep it for a couple of years.
 

MadSweatz

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Given your tree has so few branches and is still real skinny I think you can get away with leaving that extra branch for a year or 2.
Branches growing close together on the trunk can make the trunk bulge where they join so you will need to monitor and chop as soon as you notice any extra local thickening there. Bar branches are also not really good design because they interfere with visual flow through the trunk.
Until either of those things appear that extra branch will contribute to trunk thickening below that point so I think you should be able to keep it for a couple of years.
Thank you very much. You’re really helping me understand the why with this post. I will leave it for now but I will mark it to remember to remove it later. I have never seen jin on a wisteria before. Is that something I should do with it when I do remove it? Or just remove it entirely?
 

Shibui

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Wisteria wood is very soft and rots really quick. A jin, especially as thin as this probably won't last a year. My larger wisteria has hollow parts of the trunk now after some die back killed a few sections after really hard pruning. There seemed to be nothing I could do to stop the wood rotting away.
I would NOT plan for dead wood on wisteria.
 

rockm

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Kentucky wisteria (wisteria macrostachya) is NOT the typical wisteria (wisteria floribunda, or Chinese-or Japanese--wisteria) most people think of. It is a North American native species.

Kentucky wisteria isn't as fast growing, nor as aggressive as the Asian species. It doesn't thicken up as fast,nor bloom as profusely. It is also more winter hardy than those species.

If this were mine, I'd skip trying to design it, wire it, or make it a bonsai for the moment or plan on blooms at this point...Wisteria is good as bonsai for its gnarled, veined trunks that can support its big flower racemes Spindly trunks like this one can't physically do that and look weird with huge flowers anyway. The plant you have now won't achieve a decent trunk in that container--ever...It should be planted outside in a location where it can grab a surface to grow over--ideally a pergola or similar. Allow it to grow with no intervention for five years. Keep it watered and the trunk shaded, but with the top growth exposed to a lot of sun.

Left alone, wisteria can develop immense, picturesque trunks that can be the spectacular foundation for a bonsai.Doesn't happen fast. It will happen more slowly with this species.

Also, FWIW, Do not encourage deadwood on ANY wisteria. It will happen on its own, unfortunately. Wisteria wood, since it develops quickly and is meant mostly to be a water hose (wisteria LOVE water) that serves the topfoliage, rots VERY quickly. It's wood isn't meant to support the plant, as in the wild,it grow up OTHER plant that support it structurally. Get enough deadwood on a wisteria bonsai and it will collapse from physical weight.

Also, FYI, This is what's possible to find growing wild in my area. It's Chinese wisteria and invasive. Collecting them isn't all that hard. Keeping wisteria bonsai, however, is a pain in the ass. They only look good for a couple of months in the spring, after that they're wild animals that grab everything within ten feet and grow....
 

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MadSweatz

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Kentucky wisteria (wisteria macrostachya) is NOT the typical wisteria (wisteria floribunda, or Chinese-or Japanese--wisteria) most people think of. It is a North American native species.

Kentucky wisteria isn't as fast growing, nor as aggressive as the Asian species. It doesn't thicken up as fast,nor bloom as profusely. It is also more winter hardy than those species.

If this were mine, I'd skip trying to design it, wire it, or make it a bonsai for the moment or plan on blooms at this point...Wisteria is good as bonsai for its gnarled, veined trunks that can support its big flower racemes Spindly trunks like this one can't physically do that and look weird with huge flowers anyway. The plant you have now won't achieve a decent trunk in that container--ever...It should be planted outside in a location where it can grab a surface to grow over--ideally a pergola or similar. Allow it to grow with no intervention for five years. Keep it watered and the trunk shaded, but with the top growth exposed to a lot of sun.

Left alone, wisteria can develop immense, picturesque trunks that can be the spectacular foundation for a bonsai.Doesn't happen fast. It will happen more slowly with this species.

Also, FWIW, Do not encourage deadwood on ANY wisteria. It will happen on its own, unfortunately. Wisteria wood, since it develops quickly and is meant mostly to be a water hose (wisteria LOVE water) that serves the topfoliage, rots VERY quickly. Get enough of it and your bonsai will collapse from physical weight.

Also, FYI, This is what's possible to find growing wild in my area. It's Chinese wisteria and invasive. Collecting them isn't all that hard. Keeping wisteria bonsai, however, is a pain in the ass. They only look good for a couple of months in the spring, after that they're wild animals that grab everything within ten feet and grow....
I appreciate your taking time to comment. I value your opinion here. This was meant to be a abuse taking plant that I wouldn't have to care much about while I learned some of the basics. If branches die off or if I want to practice getting the courage to make big cuts and learn wiring, it isn't a great loss with this plant. Not necessarily a long term goal of something amazing. I have a few Japanese wisteria that I haven't touched yet. When it comes to my actual worthy bonsai material I am much more hesitant and nervous.
 

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