Wisteria Grown by Warren Hill-
Starting from a one gallon plant 40 years ago, Warren Hill grew this massive Chinese Wisteria. He did an incredible job. It now has a 13″ base and a huge wingspan, requiring two people to move it. It is surprising how fast Wisteria can bulk up given the opportunity. And also ramify, in just a few years.
We don’t think of Wisteria ramifying much, and if they do we might easily ignore it. Usually our focus is on the flowers, and after they finish up we push the tree into a corner and pull out our elms and maples. But actually once Wisteria stop flowering in early summer is a great time to work on them, as structural changes can be made then just like any other deciduous bonsai. That’s also when ramification arrives. For the bases of the flower racemes live on into the next year, and offer a Wisteria its finer ramification.
Managing a Wisteria is not unlike roping a mule and expecting compliance, as tales abound about the stubborn and willful vines and their sullenness around what they are known best for, blooming. Without flowers we don’t get flower racemes, and without flower racemes ramification stops cold. Blooming isn’t necessary for structural composition, as wiring the tendrils is best for that, but it is necessary for getting it twiggy. Therefore the first task in Wisteria development is mule management, or getting the ruddy thing to flower. Many of you will have no trouble at all with flowering, while others may be checking whether Goodwill accepts ornery potted plants. For more about getting a Wisteria to flower, try this earlier post Why Won’t My Wisteria Bloom?
Here’s a couple photos of Warren’s beautiful old tree, now in the garden of a client.
Warren Hill’s big Wisteria, 2013
Same tree in 2018, just after repotting. (Please excuse the long extensions, we’ve left them long to beef up those branches.) The ramification is the result of the flower racemes, which are perennial on the plant and host the flower buds for next year, resulting in even more twiggyness.