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Is there any good that can come of wisteria?

 
Anna Carter
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
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I did not plant this wisteria- it's huge, and I have to prune it back from taking over the house and pathway every year, and the last 2 years I've had to clip it off of the apple tree that grows 8 feet away. It's growing up and over a very tall trellis, 9 feet tall, so twice a year I have to spend hours climbing up and down a ladder pruning the thing. It's also sending hundreds of tendrils along the ground and through near by bushes, and this too annoys me.

I'm really thinking about taking it out and replacing it with something that is less work, but then I'd have to spend hours sawing at the thing to get it off of that tall trellis. I just have a hard time making myself spend that many hours on something that doesn't make me food...

Any suggestions? We're in zone 7B.
 
            
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If it makes you feel any better, wisteria is a nitrogen fixer.  Whether or not the fixed nitrogen is a benefit relative to the maintenance required to keep the plant in check is a tough call; however, just think, all the pruning you do to the plant releases that much more nitrogen into the soil.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally, and this is just my opinion, you should not feel strong allegiance to a plant which is known to be very difficult to control.  If you don't have special fondness for it, in my opinion, you should remove it and spend your efforts on something which you enjoy more.

 
                                  
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Is there any good?  Not in my opinion.  Granted, it's pretty when it blooms.  But you have to hack that beast back constantly.  Even when you do decide to kill it, it won't be a one-time thing.  You'll be trying for a while to get rid of it for good.  The roots can tunnel along underground for many feet, going unnoticed til they are seen strangling something.  Kill it.  Kill it now. 
 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Kill wisteria, plant grapes or kiwis. Garden plants must conform or perish!
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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hack it back close to the ground, then look for a local person who does bonsai. chances are they will want to dig it up for a nice bonsai. they do the work, and your both happy.

imo wisteria tends to destroy things unknowingly. it thinks its doing great and it is, but its also choking out other trees, wrapping around posts squeezing them to the breaking point, finding its way in tiny cracks in your house.

the only wisterias i have seen that i liked were out in the open and trained into small trees. 10x easier to prune and control if you have to have that wisteria fix.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I've read the best way to grow wisteria is on a framework of I-beams out in the open where you can keep an eye on it and it can't crush anything. 
 
Gord Welch
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
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To me, wisteria is one of the most beautiful aromas. I'd keep it and propagate it.
 
John Polk
master steward
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Even growing it in the open requires some vigilance.  A quote from Wikipedia:

The world's largest known Wisteria vine is in Sierra Madre, California, measuring more than 1 acre (0.40 ha) in size and weighing 250 tons.

Yikes!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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zone 4/5 have never had it climb more than 3 to 4 feet and can't get it to flower..no problem here
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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i built a pergola against the side of my house 5-6 yrs back.  and foolishly planted a wisteria on it.  its continually trying to grow up on my garage roof. into the gutter,  no telling how much is now getting behind the vinyl sidding.  ive pulled siding off other houses and seen other types of vine and/or ivey that had traveled down the length of the house behind the vinyl.  i told my wife we were going to slowly remove it.  beautiful and smells great. but not worth the damage it is or will eventually do.
 
Charlie Michaels
Posts: 124
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Wouldn't wisteria make excellent mulch though? Your intensive prunings would not be in vain if you simply made more Hugelcultures out of it.
 
John Polk
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If you use it for hugel-beds, make certain that the trimmings are completely DEAD!  Otherwise, your problem would be multiplied by a factor proportionate to the size of your hugel-bed!
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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RyanJ wrote:
If it makes you feel any better, wisteria is a nitrogen fixer.  Whether or not the fixed nitrogen is a benefit relative to the maintenance required to keep the plant in check is a tough call; however, just think, all the pruning you do to the plant releases that much more nitrogen into the soil.


It's awesome for attracting bees, and other pollinators as well. 
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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I love wisteria, but the Asian types, which you obviously have, can lift a house off its foundation. Get rid of it. There is a north american native wisteria which is much less rampant. Someday I'm going to grow it...
 
                                  
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I know that it is commonly quoted that the 'native' is less aggressive, but that has not been the case for me.  I have W. 'Amethyst Falls", and it is just about as bad.  Sends shoots along the ground to pop up once it reaches somethings upright, as well as sprouting underground from the roots.  I am in southern IN, and in our climate, I would kill it.  As a matter of fact, I will be cutting a pretty white one out today.  Not that it will be the last time I have to cut it down, this makes the second attempt to kill it.  And I am sure it won't be the last...
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Well, drat. Another perfectly good fantasy bites the dust. I hate it when that happens. Good fantasies are getting harder to come by!
 
                                    
Posts: 46
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when you cut it off at the ground level and coppice this plant you are adding nitrogen to the soil... when you use the organic material as mulch it also contains more nitrogen than most plants...
i believe if you cut the wisteria back and replace it with an aggressive climber... and also as it is coming back.. if you are vigilant about cutting it back ... it will be less and less until it is no more
the key is to have a fast growing species to replace the wisteria that will do well with that added nitrogen.... cut it back... shade it out!
 
Vincent Alexander
Posts: 50
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Interesting guys... I have a different opinion... OK I have a couple huge wisterias growing my back yard. We trained them up over the patio cover for the last 20 years, and the thing was gonna try to rip our patio cover down so I cut it all the way back to the stump this fall. The stumps sit at about 8" thick and 4 feet tall, and they are not harming anything anymore.. They are sending out a LOAD of new shoots, LOTS of new growth, and I know the roots are spreading through my tiny 4' X 50' forest garden, but I LOVE IT! Because they are in my zone 1 location... literally IN my garden, so everyday, I get to rip off lots of long green vines and leaves, and drop that down as mulch under my plants. It's one of my favorite things to do in my garden. I have all kinds of other things growing right around the stumps too, so veggies seem to grow right on top of the wisteria roots.

I can see the root system is expanding but the way I see it, I'm simply getting more and more organic matter into my soil, and more nitrogen fixing. Someday those roots will be dead and decomposing down there. Thats a great thing right?

So as long as its in zone one where I can keep chopping and dropping, I can't think of a better nitrogen fixer for the garden simply because it produces so much nitrogen rich biomass. Out in a zone 3 or 4 I would discourage it because it would probably spread out and take over everything... in 20 years you would have a wisteria forest... REALLY SUCH A BAD THING? But as for a zone 1 veggie garden I say YES grow that! In the ground or in a container your choice... I prefer in the ground where they put roots down and feed the soil from below as well as on top.. it produces so much biomass.

Also it's so trainable you could probably make living furniture out of it... or head pieces.. it's useful! I see it as a blessing not a curse. I think a lot of people who see this the way I do will appreciate this plant and I am propagating them from seed and cutting to offer for sale in my little backyard nursery.

So in conclusion, I think it's a great chop and drop biomass producer and nitrogen fixer. High maintenance tho so keep it in zone 1 or 2, maybe contained...
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 776
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
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I agree Vincent. I grew up with a wisteria at the house and have very fond memories of it teeming with bees to the point that the entire bush seemed to be vibrating and buzzing. I am surprised so many people plant it right next to or on their house where it can easily start growing into the siding and under the roof.

I have a wisteria that I planted directly between my back door and the gate to exit the property so I can keep an eye on it and chop and drop it as needed. It is also surrounded by a new garden bed that needs nitrogen, so the arrangement is pretty nice, and there is nothing for it to climb that will complicate the work pruning it.

A lot of good can come from wisteria
-vigorous grower = biomass plant
-nitrogen fixer = fertility plant
-nice scent and color = sensory plant
-great bee plant = pollinator plant

sounds like with proper planning and placement it could be an asset to any permaculture system. I have quite a few stumps around my garden that function as pumps, as soon as green growth appears I will pull it off and mulch the surrounding plants.
mulberry, trumpet vine, Virginia creeper, and hackberry all grow so quickly that they put a lot of organic material onto the soil without any extra inputs. They will be a huge asset when a drought comes my way.
 
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