A Guide To Pruning Wisteria | Love The Garden

How to Prune Wisteria

LifeofRyrie's picture
By Sarah Ryrie, Gardening Enthusiast
Close up of a Wisteria tree in bloom (purple)

Wisteria, what a mesmerizing beauty. Gorgeous pendulous blooms trembling in the breeze, wafting a heady perfume as you pass below a cascade of bright green leaves. Or a woody mass of foliage as tightly knotted as a ball of wool after a kitten has been playing with it. To ensure that your Wisteria is a bounteous bloomer you will need to master the art of regular pruning.

When to Prune Wisteria

Wisteria needs to be pruned twice a year to avoid a mass of woody vine and tonnes of foliage. Twice yearly pruning will encourage maximum flowering and improve the overall health of your Wisteria. Below are the best times for pruning your Wisteria to take place? 

Winter Pruning

The first pruning session of the year should be done in late Winter. February is the ideal time as the leaves are absent, the plant is deciduous and lying dormant. The aim is to prepare the vine for the growing season to come and ensure that any tangled stems are sorted and tidied before the leaf buds break open. The February Wisteria pruning also gives the opportunity for any support maintenance to be done to the arch, pergola, wall or any other support mechanism around which the Wisteria has been trained. Far easier to repair broken fence panels without the weight of leaves, than in the middle summer when the mass of flowers and leaves mean that you battle to hold the vine in place. 

Mid Summer Pruning

The second pruning should occur in Mid Summer, sometime between July and August is the ideal time as this is the period immediately following the flowering season. The plant has expended it's early energy and is ready to be refreshed and revived for new growth. Summer Wisteria pruning allows you to control its size and gives greater opportunity for training the Wisteria, to follow the path best suited to your garden, whether that is over a pergola or scrambling up a wall and delicately framing, rather than obscuring, the windows. 

How to Prune Wisteria

Wisteria is a hardy vine and will, generally, be forgiving if a spot of light pruning turns into a hard cut back. However here is our guide to how to prune your Wisteria.

February Pruning

As February is the time you will be able to see all the stems of your Wisteria vine, now is the time to trace back to the main stem and sort out the shape of your plant.

Pruning Young Wisteria Plants

If your Wisteria has only had one or two summers of growth, February gives you the chance to create a strong framework in the plant. Cut back the main stem to a height of approximately 75cm and then untangle the side branches, before cutting back by about a third. Train the Wisteria to grow where you want it to, by tying into a supportive structure and removing any unwanted growth.

Pruning Mature Wisteria Plants

If your Wisteria is a more mature plant, February pruning keeps its size in check. Cut back new growth and main branches to just two or three buds to keep the plant neat, tidy and ready for the forthcoming growing period. Hard pruning may be required if there are dead stems to deal with, or particularly woody areas of the vine causing gaps in the foliage and flowering. In this case cut back to the first healthy stem you come to.

Winter Wisteria Pruning and tidying

Summer Pruning

When flowering has ceased, this is the time to untangle and reduce the amount of new growth. Mid Summer pruning controls the Wisteria and creates a strong plant that may even flower for a second time in the early Autumn. 

Start at ground level and remove any unwanted growth at the base of the vine. This will give strength to the main stem and concentrate the plants energies into its core. Whippy side shoots should then be cut back to no more than 5 buds. This will control the size of your Wisteria and prevent it from getting out of hand and tangled.

If a second flush of blooms appears, you will need to prune the Wisteria again when they finish to retain control of the vine's growth.

Large wisteria tree canopy lit up from below

For more information on growing Wisteria take a look at our How to Grow Wisteria guide. Have you a spectular Wisteria, or do you need further advice on how to regain control on this vigorous vine? You can post pictures, comments or advice below.

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