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Published: Tuesday, 5/28/2013

Wisteria doesn’t have to cause hysteria

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
IN THE GARDEN

Spring is an exciting time for all gardeners, but it must seem like a huge party for the plants too.

You can tell they are ready for a celebration just by looking a their fat buds and bodacious blooms.

Just ask Debbie and Mike Beam. Their wisteria vine is having a huge celebration. You can tell just by looking at it because it is dripping with thousands of blooms.

A confession

I must share my envy of Debbie and Mike’s amazing talent to grow one of my favorite vines. I had to confess to her that I have tried to grow one of these over my backyard gazebo. But after my spouse cut it down with the weed trimmer three years in a row, I gave up.

So, I took thorough notes when Debbie shared her secret to growing this healthy, heavy blanket of flowers across the back of her house. Here is what I learned in a nutshell. Start with a substantial vine, give it a strong support, keep it watered and don’t let your husband near it.

Wisteria wizard

I think of Debbie as the Wisteria Wizard. She has come up with a simple way to coax this vine into its peak form. Her strategy is simple.

“I planted it about 12 years ago and we wanted to train it to grow across the back of our house,” she said.

Debbie picked up the original plant in its 8-inch pot, planted it in her Gibsonburg garden and started guiding it to hang on a trellis.

“It was about an inch and a half in diameter and was really healthy. I didn’t want to start from scratch,” she said. This was a key element: to ensure her vine had a strong root system when she stuck it into the ground.

“We started to try and make an arch over our walkway in our back yard, but it got too heavy within the first two years. After that, we knew we needed something more stable for it to grow on. That is when my husband built a sturdy pergola,” Mrs. Beam said.

As it grew, she used soft nylons to hold the tender vines to the pergola. She said it can be a bit of a messy plant when the petals fall off. “Spiders also like to live in this vine too. But the blooms and the fragrance are well worth all of the effort.”

The soil in her Woodville Township home is mostly clay. “I planted it and just tossed in a handful of Epsom salts into the hole. I will toss a handful of Epsom salts on it usually before it rains,” she said. The Wizard said it is planted in full sun, “And now that it has grown so big, it shades my entire kitchen with its foliage until the fall.”

One more trick, the Wisteria Wizard said they keep it in shape by pruning it away from the house after the blooms are gone. “If we didn’t prune it, it would be up and over the roof of the house. As it is, it covers the length of our entire house and I think it is truly amazing.”

And, of course, I agree. Just remember to wave your magic wand and keep it away from the weed wacker.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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