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Plant of the Week: Evergreen Wisteria

Millettia reticulata

Plant of the Week: Evergreen Wisteria

Rabbits aren’t Chickens, but they are both animals, agreed? Evergreen Wisteria is neither evergreen…nor is it a true wisteria. Wisteria sinensis, or Chinese Wisteria vine that we all recognize with its large purple blooms that remind me of grapes, is a very different plant from Evergreen Wisteria, though both are in the same family called legumes. Here is why I like recommending the Evergreen Wisteria over the Chinese Wisteria to my customers…

Plant Characteristics:

Evergreen Wisteria can grow between 15 and 30 feet high, depending on the conditions and is easily trained on any garden structure. The foliage is dark green and deciduous (drops in winter), if we get cold enough for it. They are perennials, so they will flush out new growth each spring. The deep purple blooms emerge in mid-summer, which is a different cycle from the Chinese Wisteria, which will bloom only in spring. The growth habit of Evergreen Wisteria is another noticeable difference from the Chinese Wisteria. Evergreen Wisteria has a refined habit, clumping better and won’t run into the lawn or garden like the Chinese Wisteria tends to do. Also, the foliage is much denser on the Evergreen compared to the Chinese Wisteria.

The blooms on the Evergreen Wisteria are smaller than the traditional vine and have a pea-like appearance and are 6-8 inches long. They bloom in mid to late summer, which is nice when many plants have petered out with the heat. The blooms are a deep royal purple and are striking against the foliage. These blooms are HIGHLY FRAGRANT! The sweet, enticing scent will draw any and every one to this area of your garden. They are also adaptable to many soil and moisture conditions. They are toxic to pets if they ingest the seeds or bark of the vine.

Plant Care:

Evergreen Wisteria should be planted in a sunny area, in well-drained soil. They like regular watering if no rainfall is occurring. Deadheading, removing spent blooms, will help to promote more vigorous flowering. When fertilizing the Evergreen Wisteria, a liquid fertilizer with a bloom boosting ingredient is preferred, but a granular slow release fertilizer is sufficient also. Prune in late winter or early spring when trimming them back for the next growing season.

Uses:

The Evergreen Wisteria can be grown on pergolas, fences, trellises, arbors, and just about anything else in the garden you’re willing to train it on! They can be used to hide unsightly areas like an A/C unit or to add some privacy where needed. They make great companion plants in the veggie garden. They fix nitrogen in the soil, which is a critical element in soils. This will also positively affect other plantings around it, so, an edible space like a raised or rowed garden with your favorite fresh foods is a wonderful place to incorporate them!

I’ve worked a good bit training Evergreen Wisteria on arbors for customers as well as commercially. It is worth every ounce of labor—truly a labor of love, whose reward is lavish beauty and fragrance in your favorite sitting space in your garden.

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