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Help - correct way to prune Wisteria

Hi there! 

I have had this wisteria Caroline for 3 years and have never pruned it, as I wanted to train it round this pergola. However I have read recently that you should prune July and February as it will encourage it to flower (which it hasn’t done so far). 

As you can you see from the photos it is quite chaotic, and I don’t know where to start with pruning. There is no clear leading stem anymore either. 

Any advice would be greatly welcomed! 

Many thanks 

Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,017
    edited July 2020
    Begin by cutting off any dead bare wood and stems and then tie in the stems you want to train along your structure so you can see what's left.   Then you just take all the remaining long whippy stems like the ones I can see going the wrong way up under the roof and reduce them back to 7 pairs of leaves.   Do the same shortening prune with stems on your uprights.

    In February, you cut them all back to 2 pairs of buds on each stem to encourage the production of flower buds.   The RHS explains it well here
    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=242 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,457
    The leading stems are the ones you choose to be the leading stems.  I sometimes select two in case one dies back and if neither dies back then i might cut the weakest back to its source.

    Once you've decided which ones are to be your leaders, look for whips that come from the side of the leaders and count 5 or 7 leaves out from where they join the leader.  This is where you cut and its this shortened side shoot that flowers.

    July is the 7th month = cut to 7 (or 5) leaves.
    Feb is the 2nd month = cut to 2 (or 3) leaves.

    Hope that makes sense, if not, do ask.

    Mine has gaps in this photo but is always under construction and flowers ok. I took it on five years ago having been cut off about waist high every year for many years.  They're very forgiving and vigorous so don't be nervous.

  • Obelixx said:
    Begin by cutting off any dead bare wood and stems and then tie in the stems you want to train along your structure so you can see what's left.   Then you just take all the remaining long whippy stems like the ones I can see going the wrong way up under the roof and reduce them back to 7 pairs of leaves.   Do the same shortening prune with stems on your uprights.

    In February, you cut them all back to 2 pairs of buds on each stem to encourage the production of flower buds.   The RHS explains it well here
    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=242 
    Thank you, very helpful, I shall cut back the whippy stems, in the past I continued to train them, but they are getting a bit chaotic. Thank you for the link. 
  • Cloggie said:
    The leading stems are the ones you choose to be the leading stems.  I sometimes select two in case one dies back and if neither dies back then i might cut the weakest back to its source.

    Once you've decided which ones are to be your leaders, look for whips that come from the side of the leaders and count 5 or 7 leaves out from where they join the leader.  This is where you cut and its this shortened side shoot that flowers.

    July is the 7th month = cut to 7 (or 5) leaves.
    Feb is the 2nd month = cut to 2 (or 3) leaves.

    Hope that makes sense, if not, do ask.

    Mine has gaps in this photo but is always under construction and flowers ok. I took it on five years ago having been cut off about waist high every year for many years.  They're very forgiving and vigorous so don't be nervous.


    Very useful thank you, and a lovely Wisteria! I hope ours will look a fraction as good as yours in the near future! 

    I shall prune in accordance with your recommendations. 


    For confirmation, I currently have around 6 new (green) stems running across the beam, not quite the full length of the beam just yet. If I choose to cut the majority of these new stems, and keep a couple. Will those couple of stems become leaders? 

    Many thanks in advance. 

  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,457
    For me, it's all to do with where the stems start from.  Trace them back and you may find two are off a third one for instance. Those two can be side shoots if you want even though they are strong.  You get to know it after a while.

    On the stems I cut back, mine will either accept the cut and make a flower or it will set off again and send out another whip and IT seems to decide whether or not that will be say, pencil-thick or spindly.  Once I've decided it's going to be a side shoot, I cut any arguments back again. You establish a framework like a herringbone of sorts and then try and get the unruly,chaotic thug to stick to that. 😃
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,017
    Yes, but don't get too worried by the 7 and 2 thing.  Once they get to a certain size it's nigh impossible and you just cut them back as needed to frame your supports and space.   As they age these main stems will become woody and self supporting.  I inherited two rampant and neglected wisteria when we moved here and they have been pruned back and tidied up and are now glorious.   Here's one in its spring clothing.


    They are now in full leaf and have just finished their second flush so I can go in with the secateurs and loppers and get them tamed again so that we can get in and out of that door without being ambushed.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,457
    Wonderful Obelixx.  That was ours in Spring and here it is today (replete with broody pigeons) having a second go at flowering while in leaf.  We can't open the French door fully and opening the bedroom window is tricky but I wouldn't have it any other way! 😁

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