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How to summer-prune wisteria

You will need

  • Wisteria plant
  • Secateurs
  • String for tying-in if necessary
  • Ladder if necessary
Do it: late-June - mid-August
At its best: April - May
Takes just: 1 hour (depending on size of plant)


Summer pruning wisteria encourages the development of short-flowering spurs that will carry the long racemes of bloom in spring. The long vigorous shoots are cut back to a couple of buds from the base of the current season's growth. During initial training of young wisteria plants, select a few strong shoots to tie into wires or trellis. Once you have created these, you can prune any sideshoots back to this framework.

How to do it


Use secateurs to cut back all the long shoots that have been produced during the late spring and early summer. Make the cut just beyond the second or third bud from the base.

Our tip

Make sure that your secateurs are sharp when cutting back the long shoots of climbers as it's easy to crush or tear the stems, which may lead to die-back.

Green, leafy summer prunings from wisteria can be added to the compost heap where they'll rot down quickly.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to summer-prune wisteria
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montana 24/11/2011 at 15:28

last year i cut my wistera wrong so this year i had hardly any flowers, hopefully this time imight get it right!

richt99 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I pruned back last year and got no flowers at all. I stuck to pruning back to two buds, etc. but nothing. However, it is a wild green mass at the moment and needs a good trim back - what am I doing that means I hardlt get any flowers?

Tomahawk 21/02/2015 at 15:18

Help needed..

I have a really wild wisteria with dozens of shoots then ore than add some against my garage on a pagoda.. the pagoda is rotting through but the wisteria is so wild I can't get in to replace it..

I don't want to kill it but it needs a severe hair cut..

David K 21/02/2015 at 19:27

I wrote this a long time ago and still have it on file:


"Wisterias can be left unpruned where space allows, but flower more freely if pruned in summer and winter to build up a spur system.

August: Shorten-back current season’s shoots to 30cm (12in). This allows more sun to get to the wood, encouraging flower-bud formation.

February: Shorten-back the summer-pruned shoots to within 2.5-5cm (1-2in) of older wood or two to three buds. It should be possible now to distinguish the plumper flower buds from the slimmer growth buds.

Long, whippy shoots that grew after the summer pruning should also be pruned. Cut these back to five or six buds from the main branch, making the cut just above a bud."


I think that's the general gist of it!