Wisteria/ Wisteria Bonsai

Bonsai Species Guides: Page 1 of 2

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Wisteria Bonsai

Wisteria is a genus of about 10 species of twining, woody, deciduous climbers found in moist woodland and on stream banks in China, Korea, Japan, and central and southern USA where they will commonly reach heights of 10metres or more. They have alternate, pinnate, dark green leaves to 35cm long. The long leaves are suitable for bonsai styling as they are made up of a number of smaller leaflets that are around 5cm long.

Wisterias do not conform to normal bonsai styling; they are styled to show off their highly scented racemes of flowers up to 30cm long. Flower colour changes according to variety but is normally a mixture of blue, purple or white. Flowers appear in late Spring or Summer and are followed by pendant bean-like green seed-pods.

The two species of Wisteria normally seen as bonsai are W. floribunda/ Japanese Wisteria and W.sinensis (syn.W.chinensis)/ Chinese Wisteria. Both species are twining climbers; a common way to differentiate between the Japanese and Chinese Wisterias in the wild or in the garden is to study the way that the plant has twinned. The Chinese Wisteria will grow anti-clockwise whilst the Japanese Wisteria twines clock-wise.

The Japanese Wisteria pictured here can be found at Kew Gardens in London. It can be dated back to 1820 when it was propagated from the first Wisteria cuttings imported into the UK in 1816. Originally housed inside, this Wisteria was moved and planted outside since 1860.

wisteria flowers

Wisteria sinensis / Chinese Wisteria flowers

Wisteria planted in the ground flower prolifically but as bonsai they can be more reluctant. Nearly every Bonsai Book ever written suggests a different approach to encouraging flower production. Firstly, it should be noted that what ever techniques are applied, Wisteria will not flower until they reach a certain age; this seems to be around 10 years.

Wisteria have two stages of growth; the first is the juvenile stage where they will produce vegetative growth (foliage and new extending shoots) and a mature stage where they will produce flowering spurs at the expense of vegetative growth.

In terms of bonsai, the trunk and branches of the Wisteria bonsai are developed first by allowing the roots plenty of room to extend; either by using a large pot or by annual rootpruning.

>> Wisteria Bonsai Species Guide: Page 2 of 2