how far back can i prune older wisteria

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by K Magee, Mar 15, 2022.

  1. K Magee

    K Magee New Member

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    west Vancouver, BC

    i have a stunning old wisteria but its pulling down my fence. its two arms go about 18' in both directions of the trunk is it possible to prune her to the trunk on the right side so we can replace the fence (this time adding a trellis)?


    wisteria picture attached.

    its at least 35 years old and going strong.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2022
  2. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    South Okanagan & Greater Vancouver, BC Canada
    You’re lucky to have such a beautiful plant — a classic that takes years to look just right

    i do not know the specific answer to your question —

    however i have a few thoughts from the rainy-day armchair

    i assume your wisteria is currently healthy (if not, then the answer is perhaps easy - get rid of it)

    and you want it to look nice again fairly soon (ie not waiting 5 yr for it to recover)

    1. obviously you’ll need some good cutting tools in top condition - and safety glasses etc

    2. empathetic neighbors and contractors! Garden service and fence builder service are hard to find and schedule (let alone sourcing good quality $ lumber sturdy enough to support this vine - it’ll take a decent budget and labor hours to work carefully with this fine vine AND build a strong, long lasting, attractive fence)

    (do you need a city hall permit for fences in West Van? Plus, check out fence bylaws including heights etc for your city and neighbourhood)

    3. wait a few weeks if not already apparent to see if any of the branches do NOT sprout leaves — I think once you’re certain these branches can be dispensed with — prune accordingly (remove them)

    4. As far as i know, wisteria blooms on old wood (flowers that you see in 2022 are blooming on vine branches that grew in 2021), so keep this in mind if you want some blossom this 2022 year

    5. Ask around in your heritage neighborhood for similar experiences? (I am sure wisteria is quite common in a well-tended older neighborhood?) You have the well-reputed plant nursery along Marine Dr in W Van - ask them?

    6. it might be that your contractor will need to build some temporary support for the vines while fence is installed and stained etc

    6. i tend to be the calculated risk garden person — ie - I try « it » based on what I am willing to lose (so to speak) and yet be willing to live with it — and share info so we can learn too

    Pruning and Training Wisteria - FineGardening

    please other forum contributors, feel free to correct me.
    Margot likes this.
  3. AlainK

    AlainK Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    nr Orléans, France (E.U.)
    It's splendid.

    I would get rid of the fence, or replace it, and keep the Wisteria.

    I've seen wisteria twisting iron fences, that was an essential part of a very beautiful scenery.

    But of course, you can maim this beautiful plant. Some of it will perhaps die, but it must have very strong roots that will make it survive, whatever insult you want to give it. But frankly, it's so beautiful...

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