Wisteria Bonsai Care and Maintenance

Elle

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Japanese wisteria bonsai tree with bright purple blooms.

Wisteria bonsai are a beautiful species of flowering bonsai. They are be prolific flowerers, but can be temperamental.

Japanese wisteria bonsai tree with bright purple blooms.
Japanese wisteria bonsai tree.

Wisteria is a beautiful flowering bonsai species that makes a very interesting bonsai subject. It is actually a vine, and a member or the pea family.

There are ten species of wisteria. Two of these are native to the Southern portion of North America the other eight are eastern Asian. There are several different cultivars with different color flowers.

Appearance and form

They are very vigorous growers, quite hardy and are known for their longevity.  The heavily scented flowers are small but clustered like that of a pea and come in a variety of colors.

The bark is smooth and light and the vines tend to grow in a tangled mass if left untrained.

Some plants may not produce blooms for ten to fifteen years if started from seed, which makes them a bonsai specimen for the ever patient. 

Varieties

The two species that are commonly grown as bonsai are:

  1. Chinese Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis; and
  2. Japanese Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda.

The Chinese wisteria is the most commonly seen in gardens probably because it blooms sooner than the other varieties. 

Wisteria Bonsai Care

Feeding

Feed wisteria regularly, especially during the growing season – use a good quality liquid fertilizer once a week.

Avoid feeding wisteria with a nitrogen fertilizer. Wisteria are a member of the pea family, and so they can assimilate nitrogen from the atmosphere. Nitrogen-based fertilizers will increase the growth of leaves at the expense of flower production. 

Repotting

The root system of a wisteria vine is delicate, which can make repotting difficult. If the roots are disturbed too often or roughly, the plant won’t survive. Wisteria tend to flower more often if they become rootbound.

Young plants can be repotted every two years, and older plants every five years.

Repot in spring before the flowers appear.

Watering

Water frequently. Wisteria love water and since they require direct sunlight it is important to ensure that their soil is not allowed to dry out. 

Propagating

Wisteria will propagate from cuttings and also produce seed pods after flowering that can be used to start new plants. 

Displaying wisteria bonsai

Wisteria bonsai is best displayed cascading their heavily flowered vines. The style most commonly used is the informal upright bonsai style with a thick canopy of weeping limbs. 

The windswept bonsai style can also be quite stunning making the plant appear to be forever blown by the wind. 

Wisteria make beautiful examples of flowering bonsai but do have their quirks that can challenge even the most patient bonsai practitioner. This is probably not the right species to choose for your first bonsai.

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