‘Basic steps’ to follow when pruning wisteria for ‘healthy’ branches

Wisteria: David Domoney shares tips for plant

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Pruning removes dead and dying branches and stubs, allowing room for new growth and protecting your property and passerby from damage. It also deters pest and animal infestation and promotes the plant’s natural shape and healthy growth. When you grow something as beautiful as wisteria, you don’t want to ruin it by pruning it wrong. To help, Emily Jones, a gardening expert Tomato Mentor with over 30 years experience, has shared her best wisteria pruning advice. 

Before knowing when and how to prune, Emily explained the importance of pruning these plants. She said: “It’s important to note that wisteria can be aggressive growers, so it’s important to be consistent with pruning and training to control its size. 

“It’s also important to be aware that Wisteria can be invasive so make sure you are aware of and follow any local rules regarding wisteria cultivation.”

So what’s the best time to prune wisteria? According to the expert, gardeners should look to prune their plants in winter or spring.

She said: “Wisteria is best pruned in late winter or early spring, just before new growth begins.”

Winter is the ideal time to prune wisteria ready for flowers in summer. It’s this process that enables you to focus the plant’s energy on creating flowering spurs rather than sending out all of its energy into green whippy wisteria growth. 

It’s this long growth that zaps the energy from wisterias taking it away from flowering and into taking over whatever structure they ate planted next to.

Winter pruning is carried out when the plant is leafless and dormant. It is more severe, reducing last year’s growth to two or three buds. 

This shapes the plant and ensures that the flowers will not be obscured by foliage.

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Emily continued: “When pruning, the main goal is to control the size and shape of the plant, as well as to encourage the development of strong, healthy branches. There are some basic steps for pruning wisteria.”

The first step is to “remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood”. This is so that only the healthiest shoots are left behind.

The expert noted that these dead, diseased or damaged branches should be cut back to the base of the plant.

Emily also insisted gardeners cut back any long, “whip-like growths” to a healthy bud or side shoot as “this will encourage the development of strong, healthy branches”.

Gardeners should then look to shorten any side shoots that have grown from the base of the plant to about two buds. 

The expert explained: “This will help to control the size of the plant and encourage the development of strong, healthy branches.”

Another area of the plant that can be removed is any shoots that are growing from the base of the plant and any suckers that are growing from the roots, added Emily.

Once the basic pruning is done, gardeners can then shape the plant to their desired form.

For wisteria plants that have only had one or two summers of growth, winter pruning gives them the chance to create a strong framework in the plant. 

Cut back the main stem to a height of approximately 75cm and then untangle the side branches, before cutting back by about a third. Train the Wisteria to grow where you want it to, by tying into a supportive structure and removing any unwanted growth.

For wisteria that is more mature, winter pruning keeps its size in check. Cut back new growth and main branches to just two or three buds to keep the plant neat, tidy and ready for the forthcoming growing period. 

Hard pruning may be required if there are dead stems to deal with, or particularly woody areas of the vine causing gaps in the foliage and flowering. In this case, cut back to the first healthy stem you come to.

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