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How to train a wisteria vine into a tree

Updated February 21, 2017

The wisteria plant grows on its own as a twisting, flowering vine with long strands of brightly coloured blooms that light up the landscape. Vines generally are trained on to trellises or even buildings to highlight this showy appearance. However, with careful pruning and staking, you can train your wisteria vine to grow as a tree, complete with bushy flowering tops and a strong trunk.

Till an area of your garden that receives at least five hours of sunlight daily. Turn to a depth of at least 25 cm (10 inches) and mix in 7.5 cm (3 inches) of organic compost, peat moss or manure as you work the soil.

Drive a sturdy 10 cm (4 inch) thick wooden post or a thick metal pipe into the ground where you intend to plant your wisteria. The support should be at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall, and must penetrate the soil well to support the weight of the growing vine.

Plant your wisteria vine in your prepared soil in early spring, after the threat of frost has passed. Plant beside the support post you installed.

Prune all but the strongest stem of the wisteria vine. Use sharp pruning shears to cut the excess stems and vines as close to the ground as you can.

Tie the strongest vine to the pipe with flexible nylon cord. Attach the vine so it grows straight up, vertically, like a tree trunk. The stake holds the vine upright until it is strong enough to support itself.

Pinch off any new vines that emerge at the base of the newly forming trunk. These compete with the trunk and slow its growth. You may see new growth forming on the sides of the trunk. Leave these alone, as they become the branches of your tree.

Track the wisteria's growth. Once it reaches the height you want, prune off the top of the vine. This encourages it to bloom out like a tree. From then on, you are growing a tree instead of a vine.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Organic soil amendment
  • Stake or post
  • Pruning shears
  • Nylon cord
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.