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I say Wisteria and You say Wistaria…”

By Karen England

Photo credit Mr.Chikaraishi & Pamela A. Kelly copyright 2002 from

…No matter how you say or spell it Wisteria is one of the prettiest vines you can grow. The biggest wisteria vine in the world (Actually listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest blossoming plant in the world“) is in Sierra Madre, California, which is the hometown of the Sunshine Gardens family. The Sierra Madre wisteria vine was originally purchased in 1894 in a one-gallon size can from Wilson Nursery in Monrovia, California for a whopping .74 cents. Each year this historic vine attracts hundreds of people who view the more than one-acre size vine in bloom; with it’s estimated 1.5 million lavender blossoms! The city of Sierra Madre has made the unfortunate decision to change from the botanically correct spelling of “Wisteria” to “Wistaria”. They think they are somehow being accurate to the name of the man who discovered the plant, a Mr. Wistar, but as no such plant called “wistaria” exists, this decision only causes unnecessary confusion. Spell it either way - it is still worth growing. The best time to purchase a wisteria is when it is in bloom and you can see exactly what color blossom you are getting. Local garden authority, Pat Welsh, in her wonderful book All my Edens tells a great story about her wisteria vine that grows to this day at her home in Del Mar. Definitely worth the read.

There are three types of Wisteria, but Wisteria sinensis or “Chinese wisteria” is the most popular type grown in the west and is available from Sunshine Gardens in violet, pink, blue & white. Plant wisteria in rich, very well drained soil located in a hot spot. Provide ample, deep watering and to prevent tip burn in late summer, leach the soil and fertilize to counteract salt buildup. Prune every winter. Once established this is an extremely easy care vine to grow.

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm".


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