Planting wisteria: when, where & how


With a passion for growing installed at an early age, I have always been happiest outdoors in nature. After training as a professional gardener and horticultural therapist, I currently run horticultural therapy and community kitchen gardens in the UK, helping others access the many physical and mental health benefits of growing vegetables, fruit and plants.

Favourite fruit: apples and pears
Favourite vegetable: asparagus

Wisterias are pollinator-friendly plants that are loved for their long racemes of flowers in early summer. Read on to discover all there is to know about planting wisteria in your garden.

Close-up of purple wisteria flowers
When in bloom, the long pendant flowers of wisteria can be enchanting [Photo: nnattalli/]

Although often found in historic gardens or parks, you can also grow Wisteria at home. Read on to find out how to plant and care for wisteria so that your garden is adorned with magnificent blooms by summer.

When to plant wisteria

The best time to plant a wisteria is during the colder months from autumn to early spring. That said, you can plant a potted wisteria at any time of year, as long as the ground is not frozen or completely dry. You can also buy wisteria as bare-root plants, which are offered for sale from November until March and need to be planted as soon as they are purchased.

Young flowers of purple wisteria
Wisteria flower best when grown in full sun [Photo Wut_Moppie/]

How to plant wisteria

The best place to plant wisteria is in a south or west-facing location where it will receive as much sun as possible. Although wisteria will also grow in light shade, they produce the best blooms in full sun. Whilst they can tolerate most soils, the best soil for wisterias is deep, fertile, and well-draining. Enrich poor soils by working in some well-rotted manure or compost prior to planting. Our Plantura Organic Flower Compost is ideal as it contains essential minerals and nutrients to support the wisteria’s growth and, being peat-free, is environmentally friendly.

Wisterias are vigorous climbers but are not self-clinging, so a wisteria support like a pergola or training wires is required. Due to their impressive size when mature, wisterias are generally grown as solitary trees as one wisteria tends to be enough to cover a wall or pergola. However, for long wisteria tunnels, you may need to plant a wisteria every 2 to 3m to cover the structure and ensure a good flowering display.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Planting a wisteria:

  • Plant between October and March when the ground is not frozen
  • Water thoroughly before planting so that the soil is moist
  • Dig a hole at least 30cm away from the wisteria support that is twice as wide and at least as deep as the root ball
  • Wearing gloves, place the plant at the same depth it was previously planted and backfill with a mix of soil and compost
  • Gently firm to remove any air pockets and water well

When grown from seed, a wisteria can take over a decade to flower for the first time. However, you can buy certain wisteria varieties as grafted plants. Even though these are usually more expensive, they can flower in as few as 5 to 7 years.

Wisteria trained along brick house
Being vigorous climbers, wisteria require training wire or supports to grow along [Photo Clive117/]

How to grow wisteria from seed

Although patience is required, you can grow wisteria from seed. Note that the new plants may not be genetically identical to the parent plant. To grow wisteria from seed:

  • Prefill a small pot with a low-nutrient compost ready for sowing, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost which encourages germination and root growth
  • Sow the wisteria seeds individually at a depth of 1 – 2cm
  • Water and cover with a clear lid or place in a propagator
  • Keep the soil moist and at a temperature of around 18 – 21 °C
  • Check for germination and remove the lid or propagator cover after 4 – 8 weeks
  • Grow on undercover and repot once the roots have filled the pot, but before it becomes root-bound
  • Once two sets of leaves are visible, gradually harden off and plant out once all risk of frost has passed
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Wisteria in pots

Although generally grown directly in the ground, there are certain wisteria varieties suitable for growing in a large container. However, due to their hungry nature and deep root systems, a minimum wisteria pot size of 50 x 50cm is advisable. When growing a wisteria in a pot, make sure there is adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging from becoming an issue. To help with this, you can also create a drainage layer of gravel at the base of the pot before half-filling with a loam-based compost mix that is suitable for mature plants or shrubs. Lower the plant so that it will be planted at the same level it was previously planted at and backfill with compost, firming in as you go. Water well after planting and regularly from then on to ensure that the soil does not completely dry out.

Wisteria growing in large pot
Less vigorous wisteria varieties are suitable for growing in a large container [Photo Sally B/]

Wisteria care

Along with the right location, wisterias require a certain amount of ongoing care to keep them to size and encourage their yearly blooms. Wisteria can put on a considerable amount of growth each season and soon take over if not pruned regularly. It is best to prune wisteria twice a year in late winter and mid-summer.


Once established, you will generally only need to water wisteria during dry periods. However, after planting and for the first summer at least, keep the soil moist (but not waterlogged) by watering every 2 to 3 days if there is no rainfall. Due to the limited soil, wisterias in containers require more frequent watering. Generally, if the top few centimetres of soil are dry, you can water slowly but thoroughly until water begins to leach out from the bottom of the pot.

Pruning a wisteria with secateurs
Pruning wisteria is key to controlling their growth and encouraging them to bloom [Photo: shocky/]


Feeding wisteria will encourage more blooms and support the vigorous leafy growth. For those grown directly in the soil, you can apply a balanced fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone meal in spring. Those in poor or very free-draining soils can be fed a high-potassium fertiliser to help promote flower formation. Our Plantura Tomato Food is a granular fertiliser that is ideal for this purpose. It is rich in potassium and will help feed the plant for up to 3 months.

Tomato Food, 1.5kg
Tomato Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for tomatoes, chillies, courgettes, cucumber & more
  • For healthy plants & an abundant tomato harvest
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Feeding wisteria in pots:
Container-grown wisterias require more frequent feeding to replace any nutrients that have leached out of the soil. Along with an application of a general fertiliser in spring, feed your wisteria with a potassium-based fertiliser every 10 to 14 days when you see the first flower buds appear. Our Plantura Liquid Tomato Food is perfect for feeding wisteria in pots as it can be applied at the time of watering and will help support flower production.

Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables
  • Liquid fertiliser for healthy plant growth & an abundant harvest
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly

Plant problems

Perhaps the most common wisteria problem is poor flowering. Mature wisterias not flowering can sometimes be down to late frost damage or a lack of sunshine, moisture or nutrients. If you suspect any of these might be the case, try protecting the flower buds with fleece in early spring, watering more frequently or feeding your wisteria to see if the flowers improve the following year.

Purple wisteria in full bloom
Container-grown wisterias require more frequent fertilisation [Photo: LifeCollectionPhotography/]

Another problem of wisterias is yellowing leaves. If your wisteria leaves turn yellow during the summer months, this can be a sign of over or under-watering or a lack of nutrients in the soil. If you spot yellow leaves on your wisteria, try altering your watering schedule or applying a fertiliser to replace lost nutrients.

Wisteria flowers hanging down pergola
Poor wisteria flowering can be caused by a lack of sunlight, moisture or nutrients [Photo: FotoCat99/]

Although beautiful, wisterias can also be potentially harmful, so gloves should be worn when handling these plants. Find out more about poisonous wisteria here in our separate article.