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Wisteria

Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Deciduous, Vines

Wisteria are twining, woody vines of great size, long life, and exceptional beauty in flower. Very adaptable; can be grown as trees, shrubs, or vines. All have large, fresh green leaves divided into many leaflets, spectacular clusters of blue, white, or pinkish springtime blossoms, and velvety, pealike pods to about 6 in. long. Subdued autumn color in shades of yellow.

To get off to a good start, buy a cutting-grown or grafted wisteria; seedlings may not bloom for many years. If you start with grafted plants, keep suckers removed or they may take over. Wisteria is not fussy about soil, but it does need good drainage. In alkaline soil, watch for chlorosis.

Wisteria floribunda
Wisteria floribunda

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Wisteria floribunda

From Japan. Leaves are 12–16 in. long, divided into 15 to 19 leaflets. Fragrant, 1/2-ft. clusters of violet or violet-blue flowers during leafout. Clusters open gradually, starting from the base; this prolongs the bloom season but makes for a less spectacular display of color than that provided by W. sinensis. Many varieties in white, pink, and shades of blue, purple, and lavender, usually marked with yellow and white.

Wisteria sinensis
Wisteria sinensis

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Wisteria sinensis

Native to China. This is the most common wisteria in the West. Leaves are 10–12 in. long, divided into 7 to 13 leaflets. Blooms before leafout. Clusters of violet-blue, slightly fragrant flowers are shorter (to 1 ft.) than those of W. floribunda but they make quite a show, since flowers open all at once nearly all along the cluster. Plants will bloom in sun or considerable shade.

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