Wisteria floribunda macrobotrys, the Japanese wisteria, is a member of the Papilionaceae family that is currently looking magnificent all over Oxford. One especially splendid example can be seen in the Pavilion border in the University Parks. Wisteria are vigorous, deciduous woody climbers, with twining stems. Depending on the variety, they flower from April until June. This particular example, somewhat unusually, is being grown through a Yew tree, providing a stunning addition to the Yew’s dark foliage. The flowers are currently over 30cm long. The Wisteria will grow to around 10 metres.
Happy in sun or shade though doing best in a sheltered position, Wisteria is a fairly easy plant to grow. We have not pruned this one, but when grown on a wall or trellis twice-yearly pruning is required, in July and February. Different techniques are required for each of these prunings; the easy way to remember these is ‘short month, short prune’ and ‘long month, long prune’. In practice in February you prune the flowering stems back to two buds and in July to six buds. Soil should be moist but free-draining. In terms of propagation, the best specimens are achieved from grafting.