Taming very established Wisteria

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by DevonPhil, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. DevonPhil

    DevonPhil Gardener

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    We recently moved into our new house along with a rather huge garden. There will be many things to tackle over the next few months, but to begin with, I'd like to tame a very established Wisteria.

    I believe this Wisteria has been growing here for over 20 years, but has probably not been pruned so much in recent times (I'm told it did flower last year). I've watched a handful of good 'Wisteria Winter Pruning' YouTube videos, however, they all show well cared for plants. As you can see from my photo, our Wisteria has become very dense with the canopy going haywire - sending long shoots in all directions.

    I'd very much like to cut back the wild growth, maintain the original structure and growth direction along the pergola and help promote new flowers.

    Many thanks.

    IMG_20201007_154724.jpg
    Taken Sept 2020

    IMG_20210105_125125.jpg
    Taken Jan 2021
     
  2. pete

    pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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    I'd leave it and see what it does next spring, you have nothing to lose .

    You could cut back hard to a few buds anything that is definitely a bit whippy, but I'd not go cutting anything too hard back until you see what it does this year.
     
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    • noisette47

      noisette47 Total Gardener

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      Umm...Just for once I'm going to disagree with @pete, who's a much better gardener than me, but Wisterias are pruned (at least) twice a year, and January/February is the ideal time to winter-prune, when the lack of leaves enables you to see the wood for the trees :)
      Now's the time to cut back to within 2/3 buds of the original framework of trunk and main branches. Only you can decide, @DevonPhil, what you want that framework to be. But be strict! If there are just main branches running the length of the pergola, cut back to within a few inches of those. If there are 'cross branches' trained across the pergola, then you cut the extraneous growth to within 2 buds of those. The idea is to promote flower buds close to the main framework. The plant will send out tons of new growth after flowering, hence the second 'chop' in June or July. You'll need good, sharp secateurs, perhaps loppers for the thicker branches. The good news is that most of it can be done from underneath. The photo is face-on
      to a 6m pergola and the final mainframe branches were trained to the front this year.

      wisteria pergola.jpg
       
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      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        Well I was just going on the fact that it appears to have not had its summer prune last year, and hacking it back now could involve cutting out a lot of flowering spurs, if its not entirely clear what to look for.
        But I do see the point in perhaps doing a demolition job on it, now if you wanted to get it under control in one season.

        @noisette47 , I was getting to the summer pruning bit.:roflol:
         
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        • noisette47

          noisette47 Total Gardener

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          Yes, DevonPhil will probably lose some flowers, but much better to tackle it now when the framework is visible. It would be far worse to leave it and then have to cut more drastically in summer. That just encourages more whippy growth. Anyway, what else can a gardener be doing on a nice, sunny day in January? :biggrin: Especially when it's on a clean, dry surface?:heehee:
           
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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            Well I wasnt going say drastic pruning in summer, just the long new shoots but I bow to your superior knowledge.:smile:
             
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            • noisette47

              noisette47 Total Gardener

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              Sarky B****:biggrin: It's not superior knowledge, just the voice of bitter experience!:roflol: My first 'professional' challenge was a Wisteria growing over the front of a three-storey high vicarage. Took me all my strength just to move the ladder along, never mind the vertigo :biggrin:
               
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              • DevonPhil

                DevonPhil Gardener

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                Thanks @noisette47 and @pete - I appreciate the knowledge (it's all superior to me).

                I should take a clearer photo of how out of control it's become, particularly all the whippy growth tangling above the shed as well as heading out in the opposite direction, tangling into our neighbours bushes.

                At the very least I will look to remove all the obvious dead and unwanted branches (growing in the wrong directions), then cut back the whippy growth to 2/3 buds. I'll take some photos along the way.

                I'll attempt to buy some decent secateurs later today…
                 
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                • Sian in Belgium

                  Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                  I would agree with @noisette47. Whilst you may lose some flowers this spring, now is a much easier time for your first foray into pruning a wisteria..... there are no leaves, and even the whippy stems are more well behaved. If you make sure that you cut back to a fat bud, if that is just 1-2 buds further along the stem (so maybe leaving 4 buds, rather than 2), you will still get some spring flowers, and a good prune might also encourage some sporadic summer flowers too...

                  Depending on how good the soil is, the amount of growth you are describing could just be one year’s worth, ie it has missed its summer prune. That’s not surprising, if the house was on the market in August, when the summer prune traditionally takes place. (In our last rented house, we had a very happy wisteria that grew up onto a very large balcony. I found that it could put on a metre of new whippy growth every month once it had stopped its main flowering! It wasn’t so much as an August prune, as a monthly prune!)
                   
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                    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
                  • Loofah

                    Loofah Well used member

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                    Get the shears out and hack the excess, I'd actually consider a hedge trimmer, and control the size, then come back and be more slective. You'll appreciate it come the summer prune when you won;t be able to see a thing!
                    Next year will be easier
                     
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                    • ARMANDII

                      ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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                      And a tool sharpener:heehee:
                       
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                      • Loofah

                        Loofah Well used member

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                        Oh, and ibuprofen!
                         
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                        • DevonPhil

                          DevonPhil Gardener

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                          Thank you for the advice. Here are a some closeup photos of the Wisteria, including part of an old plastic label found nestled in the branches.

                          One of the photos shows how tangled the Wisteria and Climbing Rose have become too.
                          I'm guessing I should tackle this at the same time?


                          wisteria-trunk.jpg
                          Plenty of whippy stems to cut back from the trunk

                          shed.jpg
                          Whippy growth tangling through tree branches over the shed.
                          (Both will need cutting back).


                          wisteria-sinensis.jpg
                          Wisteria Sinensis 'Black Dragon'

                          roses.jpg
                          Wisteria and the Climbing Rose looking very tangled……

                          robin.jpg
                          A welcome visitor
                           
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                          • ARMANDII

                            ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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                            It wouldn't do any harm, Phil, :cat-kittyandsmiley::coffee: to prune both the Wisteria and Climbing Rose at the same time, but I would prune the Climbing Rose down to a third of it's present size.
                            [​IMG]
                             
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                            • DevonPhil

                              DevonPhil Gardener

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                              Thanks @ARMANDII - with a little elastic, those plant pots could become gardening stilts.
                              The more I look at the garden, so much that needs tending to is way above 10ft.


                              View looking up along the tree lined 'Devon Bank'.
                              It's essentially a slither of woodland overrun with brambles and ivy.


                              woodland.jpg
                               
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