Content Detail

Chinese wisteria is a beautiful vine in flower, but it is an aggressive grower and is considered invasive in some areas, especially in the southern United States. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting this vine for planting sites.

  • Family (English) Pea
  • Family (botanic) Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae)
  • Tree or plant type Vine
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Blue, Purple, White
  • Shape or form Vining
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and method of climbing:

Chinese wisteria can grow 25 feet or more. It is a twining vine which climbs by twisting its stems or leaf stalks around a support. This type of vine grows well on trellises, arbors, wires, or chain-link fences.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to China.

Leaf description:

The opposite leaves are pinnately compound, with 7 to 13 leaflets.

 Flower description:

Blue-violet, pea-like flowers in dangling clusters. The clusters are 6 to 12 inches long with a light fragrance and are produced in mid to late spring.

Fruit description:

Fruit are similar in appearance to pea pods. Seeds and other plant parts are poisonous to eat.

Plant care:

Full sun is preferable, but this vine will also tolerate partial shade. A moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil is best. 

Wisteria often do not produce flowers for the first five to ten years. To encourage flowering, use nitrogen fertilizer sparingly and use a fertilizer that provides phosphorus, following the label directions.

Proper pruning will also encourage flowering. After flowering, prune excess growth back to 6 inches. These pruned stems will continue to grow. In winter, cut them again so that each stem has two to three buds left. Proper pruning not only encourages flowering, but it also helps to manage the size and shape of the vine. Wisteria vines are heavy and  require sturdy supports.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious pests, but this plant is an aggressive grower and has become invasive in some locations. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Amethyst Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Amethyst’):

Rosy purple flowers.

White-flowered Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’):

White flowers.


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