It is April, with flowers in bloom, and I am frequently asked to identify the “pretty” flowers that can be seen while driving down the road. One of the more commonly seen flowers are those of the Japanese and Chinese Wisteria vines. With its large clusters of deep purple flowers and fragrant smell, this plant is hard to miss.
Unfortunately, even with its obvious upsides, in places like the Deep South (zones 7+), Japanese and Chinese Wisteria are usually associated with weeds like kudzu rather than with landscape vines. This sentiment is for good reason since it can grow fast enough to overshadow established trees and can topple man-made structures with its weight.
Despite these drawbacks, Japanese and Chinese Wisteria’s beauty is undeniable and it is still something to be desired in a landscape. As a result, it continues to be sold to landscapers and gardeners who have the intention to tame this beast. However, there is an easier way. The Asian Wisteria has a Native cousin: the American Wisteria. This variety is much tamer, with a slower growth habit, and it is not near as destructive with its weight.
If you are considering trying to get these pretty flowers in your garden, I suggest following the motto “work smarter, not harder”. Select a plant that fits your design with the least amount of long-term work. Better planning now can save you time and money in the years to come.