Growing wisteria in a pot

by Adam Pasco

I've been training my wisteria as a standard plant in a large terracotta pot. It was a bit of an experiment really, as I bought a wisteria but then couldn't find the right home for it.

Close-up of wisteria bloomWhy is it that just as my wisteria reaches its peak the weather breaks and we get night after night of cold weather and frost?!

After buying a wistera and not being able to find the right home for it, I decided to experiment by training it as a standard, in a large terracotta pot. I trained the main by tying it to a strong wooden stake, bending shoots round and weaving them together to create a domed head - rather like an umbrella on top of the main stem.

Pruning has simply involved shortening the long wispy side shoots back to about 20cm during summer (July is perfect), and then cutting these stems back further to about 5cm during winter. Pruning twice a year in this way not only controls the mass of new growth that develops each year, but also encourages flowers to form at the base of each of these pruned shoots.

I regularly hear of people whose wisteria won't flower, but my plant flowers very reliably. Perhaps growing it in a pot helps, along with correct pruning, and feeding with a high potash tomato fertiliser during summer to encourage flower bud development.

All this is really irrelevant if at the very moment the flowers are coming to their peak the weather changes for the worse. Frost can damage flower buds and young new shoots, so I haven't been leaving things to chance. When frosts were forecast last week I decided to throw a large sheet of fleece right over the wisteria in the evening, removing it again when conditions had warmed up the next day.

It's useful keeping a sheet of fleece handy during May just in case of frost. A covering will keep off a light frost, protecting blossom and buds from damage. So while it might not be possible to protect a wisteria trained to an arch or pergola, my modestly sized standard wisteria in a pot can be given protection. And long may it bloom.

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Gardeners' World Web User 17/05/2010 at 18:28

I have just come in from putting fleece over the more tender plants, like Canna and some of the less hardy Passiflora, thrown over the plants and held in position with clothes pegs, it saves a lot of misery in the morning. Hope the nights warm up soon!

Gardeners' World Web User 17/05/2010 at 19:36

... and it will be easier to spray if attacked by the 'wisteria scale insect'. I had a look on a friends plant but only found the native 'soft brown scale insect' which is fairly benign?

Gardeners' World Web User 18/05/2010 at 10:02

hi people really sorry but this has nothing to do with wisteria,,,please help....could someone tell me where i can buy a CONCRETE birdhouse [nesting box] this year i've had terrible problems with the birdhouses being attacked by woodpecker ,they have destroyed 1 house and taken bluetit babies,the other house is still being attacked and there are still babies in that one.HELP...i have looked on line but the 1 i found is on a wire so no good and also i need to buy them in this country...its worse from 3.45am up to 8.00am when the bird is most active...strainge...............

Gardeners' World Web User 19/05/2010 at 07:02

Sadly my very old Wisteria has suffered badly from the recent cold nights [it is much too large to cover with fleece] It was absolutely loaded with flowers which are now just hanging down soggily although where it has grown along the side of the house the flowers seem to have survived. It usually has a second flowering later in the year so hopefully it will come back

Gardeners' World Web User 20/05/2010 at 12:14

Glad to hear that Wisteria will grow happily in a pot. I've just taken advantage of the 20% Crocus offer and purchased Black Dragon. Planted it in a large pot and trained it around a 5ft stake. Do you have any recommendations for care in the early years?

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