Wisteria is a rampant climber that bears long vigorous shoots that turn into a ‘bird’s nest’, producing few flowers. By pruning in winter and again in summer, you will encourage the development of short spurs that carry the flowers in spring. Simply tie in new growth to extend the main framework over its support, then cut remaining long stems back hard. Do this any time in the dormant season – late October to March. To further restrict growth and encourage flowering, prune again in July.
Check over the plant, tying in any long shoots that you need to extend the main framework and replace any existing ties that are cutting into the stems.
Winter-prune wisteria – checking over the plant
Leave the short, stubby side branches with clustered buds as these are the flowering ‘spurs’. Only prune if cracked or damaged.
Winter-prune wistera – stubby side branches with clustered flowering ‘spurs’.
Cut the longer stems with long and pointed buds as these are leaf buds.
Winter-prune wisteria – long leaf buds
Prune all long sideshoots to just above the second or third bud at the stem base.
Winter-pruning wisteria – pruning sideshoots
When pruning woody shrubs, trees, climbers and fruit bushes, it’s best to cut back to a bud that faces in the direction that you want the resulting shoot to grow. Cut at the same angle in which the bud is pointing and 3-5mm above it – if you’re pruning a large limb, take care to support the weight of the branch so it doesn’t split where you’re cutting.