Wisteria EXPLODES late March in our neighborhood, making it look pretty much like the set of Desperate Housewives. This is not my house; ours is around the corner – within a block of four wisteria vines that demonstrate what TO DO and NOT DO. It’s incredibly easy. It thrives on abuse. So much so, that when you drive the Westside of Los Angeles and glance deep into ravines, you’ll see wayward vines growing magnificently. No sprinkler systems. No gardener. No fertilizer. Especially NO FERTILIZER, that is important.
Romantic, stunning, a sweet, strong scent, wisteria is also gentle. You know how ivy attaches itself to surfaces with those sucker-type roots? Noooo… wisteria runs curly tendrils, like an octopus, that grasp things you give it to help it trail – wire, string, hooks, rod iron, fence lines, gutters.
This is our wisteria, above, and why I say, “no fertilizer.” See all the leaves?? Fertilizer feeds the greens, and the flowers get sad… wisteria flowers are over-achievers, they force bloom when they have no food. Our own gardener did what he was told and fertilized our entire yard. I FORGOT TO TELL HIM, DON’T DO THE WISTERIA. Well, it sucked up some of that good stuff and within a week, went nuts with greenery.
Our neighbor Beth, above, also appears to have fertilized. Ordinarily, her vine is a lot more flower-filled. But she has an eye for pretty, and trails hers across the majority of her home front.
And finally, this neighbor, above, shows what happens if you ignore the vine. A grand old home, granny owned. The rest of her front yard is also ignored, all ivy. If your structure can handle the weight, letting the vine go bananas is stunning.
Summary: live in the right climate. Plant a vine. Give it water but don’t worry. Whack it back each year when bare to corral it. Give it something to climb. And skip the fertilizer. Do this and every year, it gets better. My neighborhood was built in the mid 30s, and some of these vines are possibly that old, too.