Looking for a hardy climbing plant?
If a tough climber is what you need then Wisteria definitely fits the bill. Right now the purple flowers of Wisteria plants are on show throughout Melbourne. The eight species of twining Wisteria are native to China, Japan and Eastern USA. I have to admit I'm not sure which one is the type that is common here though I suspect it may be of Chinese origin (Wisteria sinensis). It is a deciduous plant that develops flowers in spring which are followed by foliage. The foliage is all gone by the time the cooler weather arrives. This makes it a handy plant to grow on a pergola or similar structure where it can provide shade in the warmer months and light in the cooler ones.
Caring for your Wisteria plantsWisteria is such a tough plant there really isn't much advice I terms of plant care. I've seen it grow in all sorts of conditions and it always seems to do fine. It does like a sunny position and they say that the roots like to be kept cool if possible. This usually isn't a problem as the plant shades its base in the warmer months as that is when it grows its flowers / leaves. The basic points of feeding the plant when it is in its growth phase and watering it when the weather dries up applies to Wisteria although I wouldn't call it a high water use plant. Wisteria can sucker and layer so you want to also keep an eye on that or you may have Wisteria growing all over the place.
Pruning WisteriaThe main problem you will probably run into with Wisteria is keeping its growth in check. Wisteria is a really fast grower and I'm always amazed to see how long the new growth is when it comes time to prune it. Speaking of pruning I use a pretty simple method where I just cut back the new lateral growth down to about 15cm (or close to that length as I cut above a budding point). Next year I'll do another more detailed blog entry this pruning method.
The glorious flowers of a Wisteria plant in bloom.
Below this Wisteria is growing on a frame which shades the area below in the warmer months and lets light through in the cooler months.
Wisteria trained onto wires providing an attractive wall covering.