Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wisteria watch

As I mentioned a few days ago, the wisteria has suddenly budded out. Every year it takes me by surprise and this year was no exception. From bare sticks the buds just seem to appear overnight (either that or I'm just not as observant as I'd like to believe). According to my somewhat random record keeping it usually is in full bloom by the third week of March, with the blooms lasting a week or two depending on wind and rain.

Here's a few not so great shots of the buds as they look today (I'm still attempting to master the close-up setting of the camera).

Right now they look like pale, elongated raspberries. I'll post again in a few days as the buds mature.

Every year, before the wisteria starts budding out, I stand underneath it and consider some kind of pruning. I read an article in a magazine a few years ago that described a systematic approach to pruning wisteria that, it claimed, would result in a massive increase in flower production. But as I stand underneath the arbor, all I can see it a twisty, confusing mass of vines. Nothing like the illustrations in the article. I don't know where to start.

We've had the wisteria dramatically pruned once, but that was more to save our electric service than it was to do anything for the plant (the vine had reached up and twined itself around the wire bringing the electricity to the house; eventually a solid curtain of wisteria hung between the electric wire and the top of the arbor. When the wind blew, the curtain whipped back and forth, pulling the wire perilously close to breaking). We had that pruning done in March 2002, right before the wisteria would have started setting buds. I was afraid that the whole plant would die but when I mentioned that to the tree guy, he laughed. And he was right. The plant roared back, bigger than ever, although not with noticeably more flowers.

Maybe when (if??) we replace the arbor we can address the whole plant (which has trunks six inches in diameter) and bring it back under control. Or at least get the dead wood out and pull it back into some kind of boundary.


r sorrell said...

I have two wisteria. We planted both about three years ago, and neither has bloomed yet. I forget they're there.

M Sinclair Stevens (Austin) said...

My wisteria is just leafing out. I bought it from Barton Springs Nursery and it's supposed to be a native rather than a Chinese of Japanese wisteria. They labelled it Wisteria texensis which seems like a made up name. Sally Wasowski identifies Texas wisteria as Wisteria macrostachya and says unlike foreign wisteria, it flowers after the leaves come out and that it is not as aggressive.

My plant is not particularly aggressive, neither does it flower dramatically (I did buy it in flower which is important when wisteria). It is leafing out now but I don't see any flower buds. Last year it had only two. Ultimately it's been a big disappointment especially after I went to the Cotswolds last year and saw what wisteria could look like.

Susan said...

From the size of the main trunk, we believe that our wisteria has been here since sometime around when the house was built (late 1940s). I also assume that it's not a native. It's much too close to the house: without constant vigilance it reaches and grabs onto the edge of the roof and starts trying to take over the house! But it is beautiful for a few weeks every spring and, despite the arbor's decrepit state, the green shade under it in the summer is quite welcome.