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Wisteria floribunda 'Multijuga'

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Wisteria floribunda 'Multijuga'

Wisteria floribunda Multijuga. Image: Barry Phillips

Wisterias are one of the most eye-catching plants at Wisley this month. You can find this Japanese wisteria along the bridges at the bottom of the Rock Garden, clambering up the trees in the Wild Garden and Battleston Hill, and in the Reflective Garden, one of the Model Gardens.

Vital statistics

Common name
Japanese wisteria
Family
Papilionaceae
Height & spread
9m (28ft) or more
Form
Climbing plant
Soil
Moist but well-drained fertile soil
Aspect
Sun or partial shade
Hardiness
Fully hardy but late frosts may damage buds

Wisteria

This is a genus of about 10 species of woody, twining deciduous climbers from China, Korea, Japan and central and southern USA. Found growing in moist woodlands and on stream banks.

The genus Wisteria is named in honour of Caspar Wistar (1761-1818) who was a professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Although they are unlike in spelling it is recognised as the correct spelling by the international rules of botanical nomenclature.

The leaves are dark green, alternate and pinnate to 35cm (14in) although they can grow longer. The leaves are made up of leaflets which are ovate, elliptic or lance-shaped.

Wisterias are grown for the long showy, fragrant racemes of pea like flowers in spring and summer followed by their green bean like pods. If ingested all parts may cause severe discomfort.

Wisteria floribunda 'Multijuga'

This species is commonly known as the Japanese wisteria as it comes from this country. The species name floribunda translates: free flowering and producing an abundance of flowers, which in this cultivar is very true!

This cultivar is a large twining, deciduous climber with large pinnate, dark green leaves and drooping racemes to 1.2m (4ft) long, of fragrant, lilac flowers with dark violet markings. In Japanese wisteria flowers are produced at the same time as the leaves come out.

This cultivar has the some of the longest flowers in the genus making it a must have for an amazing display in the garden. It can be wall trained or let to grow naturally through a tree or hedge.

Cultivation

  • Plant in moist but well-drained, fertile soil in full or partial sun.
  • Can be grown on poor soils.

Pruning and training

  • New plants can be trained formally at planting by removing the leading shoot to 75-90cm (30-36in) to above ground level.
  • In its first year train in laterals to form the framework and remove sub lateral shoots to 2-3 buds, in the following years repeat by removing the leader and training in laterals.
  • On established plants once the main framework has been achieved cut out vigorous growth which is not needed for the framework to 15cm (6in) of the main branches. Leaving 5-6 leaves on each of the shoots.
  • In midwinter prune these shoots down to 2-3 buds, this will ensure good flower production.

Propagation

  • Basal cuttings from side shoots can be taken in early to mid-summer and rooted with bottom heat.
  • Layer plants in autumn
  • Graft in winter

AGM

The RHS Woody Plant Committee gave Wisteria floribunda ‘Multijuga’ an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:

'Large twining, deciduous climber with large pinnate, dark green leaves and drooping racemes to 1m long, of fragrant, lilac flowers with dark violet markings, opening with the leaves.'

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