Kentucky wisteria is native to parts of North America. This species produces hanging clusters of purple flowers. It is a good alternate to the Japanese and Chinese wisterias that have become invasive in some areas. Also known as Wistaria frutescens var. macrostachya.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- North America
- Large plant (more than 24 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Wet sites,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
Season of Interest:
- Early summer,
- Mid summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Method of Climbing
Kentucky wisteria can grow 20 to 30 feet long. 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.
Full sun is preferable, but this vine will also tolerate partial shade. A moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil is best. Avoid compaction.
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
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to North America, mostly in southern states. Native to a few counties in Illinois.
The opposite leaves are pinnately compound, with 9 to 11 leaflets.
Purple, pea-type flowers in dangling clusters. The clusters are 8 to 12 inches long and fragrant. Flowers are produced in early summer.
Fruit are similar in appearance to pea pods. Seeds are poisonous to eat (as are other parts of the plant).
Aunt Dee Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya 'Aunt Dee'): Flowers are light purple with a light fragrance. This plant is considered slightly more hardy than the species and may perform well in zone 4.
Blue Moon Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya 'Blue Moon'): Blue-purple flowers. This plant is considered slightly more hardy than the species and may perform well in zone 4.
Clara Mack Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya 'Clara Mack'): White flowers.