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Flowering wisteria

Wisteria: properties and characteristics

Wisteria is one of the best known and most widespread plants in Italy: it is common to see it forming pergolas, arches or fragrant walls in gardens. However, this plant is not native to our country. Under the common name “wisteria” it belongs to the genus Wisteria, of the legume family, including shrubby and climbing plants of great ornamental and visual impact. The name derives from that of the scientist Caspar Wistar, professor of anatomy in the late eighteenth – early nineteenth century at the University of Pennsylvania and a great scholar of science. The species generally referred to as “wisteria” is the Wisteria sinensis, native to China and, in addition to being the most widespread species, it is also the most vigorous. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this plant – together with its eastern relatives – spread to Europe and the United States, supplanting the American species that had been imported into Europe starting from the previous century. Moreover, the strength of wisteria was that it adapts to different types of soil and does not require special care, but only sun and annual pruning.

The flowering of wisteria: essential information


The reasons for this success are due precisely to the appearance of the wisteria: this, in fact, has a stem with a sinuous line and a flowering of great visual impact and perfumed. Furthermore, with the spread of the Art Nouveau style, wisteria became all the rage precisely because the swirls of the trunk and the cascading flowering echoed the decorative motifs in vogue at the time. Although the species are different, most of them have similar characteristics in terms of flowering. In fact, they bloom for the first time in April-May and, frequently, a second time in late summer-September (with less abundant flowering and smaller racemes). In some cases, the stem reaches a good diameter and a considerable height, covered with light green compound leaves, and, during flowering, by a abundant cascade of pleasantly scented flowers. The single flowers gathered in dense pendulous racemes (which can reach a length of 30 centimeters), are pedicellated, have a papillary corolla and all open together. Many times the wisteria blooms even before it leaves the leaves.

Flowering wisteria: flower color


These are the common characteristics of wisteria flowering, let’s now examine the differences. They are mostly about colors. Wisteria sinensis, for example, produces an abundant, fragrant blue-violet flowering, however there is a variety (W. s. Alba), with white flowers, gathered in shorter and denser clusters. The Wisteria floribunda, originally from Japan and smaller in size, on the other hand, has smaller violet or blue-violet flowers, which gradually open up from the base. Flowering occurs two or three weeks later than the other species (May-June). Wisteria multijuga is characterized by very long racemes (at least one meter, but can reach up to 1.80), with less fragrant blue-purple flowers. There are also other species, mainly used in the creation of pergolas: the W. floribunda alba with white flowers in 60 cm racemes; the Wf rosea with pink flowers tinged with purple; the violet Wf has bluish-violet flowers, less abundant but double; the full violet Wf with blue-lilac flowers. Last is Wisteria venusta with 10-15 cm racemes and long-lasting ivory-white flowers.

Wisteria bloom: Wisteria bloom: why doesn’t it bloom?


Wisteria does not bloom immediately: the actual flowering, in fact, usually occurs only after the plant has taken root, developing a fairly strong and resistant structure (about 5-7 years). If, even after this time, the wisteria does not bloom or if the flowering is poor, there can be many reasons. First of all, it must be said that it is essential for the flowering of all species and varieties to carry out a correct training and maintenance pruning. Otherwise, the flowers will not develop. If the pruning is wrong (in the technique or in the period, or if the plant has not been pruned), flowering does not occur. You have to wait a year (or even two or more) to see the flowers appear again. Also, if the plant in question was born from a seed and not a cutting, this takes many more years to mature and bloom, and even in this case, flowering can be poor. Excess water and nitrogen-rich fertilizers lead to abnormal leaf growth compared to flowers, while frosts, too hot climates or insufficient sunshine will damage that year’s flowering.

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