Chinese wisteria

Chinese wisteria growing on a fence.

Chinese wisteria is a beautiful vine in flower, but it is an aggressive grower and is considered invasive in some areas, especially in the southern United States. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting this vine for planting sites.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name:

Wisteria sinensis

All Common Names:

Chinese wisteria

Family (English):

Pea

Family (Botanic):

Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae)

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Vine

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Mid spring,
  • Late spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Blue,
  • Purple,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Vining

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of Climbing

Chinese wisteria can grow 25 feet (or more).  It is a twining vine.  Twining vines climb by twisting their stems or leaf stalks around a support.  This type of vine grows well on trellises, arbors, wires or chain-link fences.

Plant Care

Full sun is preferable, but this vine will also tolerate partial shade.  A moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil is best. 
Wisteria often do not produce flowers for the first 5 to 10 years.  To encourage flowering use nitrogen fertilizer sparingly and use a fertilizer that provides phosphorus (follow label directions).
Proper pruning will also encourage flowering.    After flowering, prune excess growth back to 6 inches.  These pruned stems will continue to grow.  In winter cut them again so that each stem has two to three buds left.  Proper pruning not only encourages flowering, but it also helps to manage size and shape of the vine.
Wisteria vines are heavy and require sturdy supports.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pests, but this plant is an aggressive grower and has become invasive in some locations.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China.

Leaf description

The opposite leaves are pinnately compound, with 7 to 13 leaflets.

Flower description

Blue-violet, pea-type flowers in dangling clusters.  The clusters are 6 to 12 inches long.  Light fragrance.  Flowers are produced in mid to late spring.

Fruit description

Fruit are similar in appearance to pea pods.  Seeds are poisonous to eat (as are other parts of the plant).

Cultivars and their differences

Amethyst Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis 'Amethyst'):  Rosy purple flowers.

White-flowered Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis 'Alba'):  White flowers.

Location of Wisteria sinensis (Chinese wisteria) at the Arboretum