ISSUE 70  |  Spring Fling

DIY: Train a Wisteria Vine Not to Eat the House

May 02, 2013 1:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

I always walk past my wisteria briskly–show no fear–and sometimes when I talk to it, I say, “You are a plant. I am the human. I am in charge.” But neither the wisteria nor I really believed that was true until I figured out a foolproof system to tame it:


Above: Image via Environmental Concept.

The challenge with wisteria isn’t how to get it to grow–it likes poor soil and full sun and the side of your house–but how to train it to grow nicely against the house. For that, wisteria needs the support of a strong trellis system.


Above: Image via Environmental Concept.

Wisteria tendrils will twist clockwise or counterclockwise around any support system it can find. At my house, I used heavy stainless steel components to create a grid system where the wisteria can be happy.

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Above: The components of the grid include inexpensive hardware purchases (you can also buy them online from Sears). I used 3.75-inch-long stainless steel Lag Eye Bolts (Top) for $1.99 apiece; Stainless Steel Cable for $62 for a 125-foot roll, and Stainless Steel Turnbuckles for $24.05 for a package of ten.

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Above: Anchor the bolts into the wall at 12- to 18-inch intervals. I created a diamond-pattern grid. Then thread the cable through the bolts.

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Above: Wisteria needs a strong trellis support.

Above: After your trellis is in place, tie individual branches to the cable to train it to grow alongside the grid. To keep wisteria under control, prune vigorously.  In autumn and winter, prune side shoots to a length of 3 inches along main branches.

Above: This is Year One for my wisteria–so far it has been easy to prune it back to keep it trained along the cable. Is it trying to lull me into a false sense of security?

Wisteria is our Plant of the Week. For more, see A Dangerous Beauty (Are You Tempted?).