The Wisteria plant is a rapidly growing vine that may add 10 feet or more in one year. This beautiful, draping plant is a member of the Fabaceae (legume) family that also includes peas, beans and lentils. Wisteria owes its twining ability to its membership in this family, and easily twines, rambles and climbs over walls, arbors and trellises. Blooming in the spring, wisteria produces massive, gorgeous flower clusters in shades of lavender, blue and violet. The flowers move in the slightest breeze, sending the unmistakable heady perfumed fragrance of the blooms into the air. 

Wisteria plants also produce very large seed pods, which 19th century botanists and collectors used to import from China and Japan into Great Britain and the U.S. Growing wisteria from seed, however, proved to be a challenge, since the plants can take up to 15 years to bloom when planted from seed, and the flowers from those plants are not as hardy or impressive as plants grown from cuttings which are used for layering or grafting. Today, wisteria is grown by most gardeners from plants already established in one or two-quart containers. 

Wisteria is hardy to zone 5, and is not a difficult plant to grow. Best planted where it will receive full sun to light shade, this fast and vigorous grower does best in soil that is slightly alkaline and offers good drainage. A spot that is protected from high winds is advised, and it is important to make sure wisteria gets plenty of water while it is blooming. 

The home gardener needs to provide a very sturdy support system, since the plants become extremely woody and heavy with maturity. And be prepared to do some heavy pruning and shaping, since this is considered an invasive plant. Left unchecked, the wisteria plant can take over the entire garden, blocking out light from other plants and causing them to wither and die. It can also climb over walls and houses and invade neighbors' yards.
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Chinese wisteria and Japanese wisteria are two of most popularly grown types in home gardens. The Chinese wisteria vine can grow to 100 feet, and generally blooms within three or four years after planting. Its flower clusters average between six and 12 inches long and are milder in fragrance. The Japanese wisteria does not grow as large as the Chinese plant, but the flower clusters can reach up to 18 inches long. A notable difference between the two is that while the Chinese wisteria flowers all bloom simultaneously, Japanese flowers do not bloom all at the same time. A native American wisteria has been developed that has slightly smaller and less fragrant blooms, but is still stunning and less invasive than Chinese or Japanese wisteria.

Wisteria is a spectacular and showy delight that requires some attention to keep it in check, but is worth the effort. This graceful, fragrant and flamboyant vine can help create a magical garden atmosphere. 
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