Vines are a great way to jazz up a trellis, fence, or arbor while adding color and fragrance to your landscape. Evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata) is not only a beautiful and fragrant perennial vine, it's also an excellent alternative to the more commonly seen Chinese wisteria, which is invasive.
Sometimes called summer wisteria, this plant is native to southern China and Taiwan, but is not invasive. Neither is it truly a wisteria, although both plants are part of the legume family.
This woody vine has glossy, leathery green leaves and small, fragrant flowers. Evergreen wisteria can reach heights of 30 feet but can be kept shorter with pruning. It blooms in the summer (and sometimes into the fall) with a flush of deep mauve, pea-shaped blooms that resemble wisteria. The pleasantly scented flowers are described by some as having a cedar or camphor aroma.
As its common name implies, it's evergreen in South Florida and semi-evergreen in parts of North and Central Florida, depending on winter temperatures in the region. Evergreen wisteria thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 10 and will grow best in areas with full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
Planting and Care
Evergreen wisteria vines will adapt to most soil pHs and can grow in any soil type, so long as it is well drained. Directly sow seeds in fall or in the spring after the last frost. It can be grown on a variety of supports including fences, arbors, and trellises.
Evergreen wisteria is a twining vine, meaning the stems twist around upright supports. This means that you may need to provide it with a little help in finding its way if you want your vines to grow up or along fences or trellises.
While the constant upward growth of vines can be great for tall structures like arbors, vines on fences and trellises can look sparse at their base without some effort on your part. Train your evergreen wisteria by weaving new shoots sideways through the sections of your fence or trellis. Continue to do so as the vine grows. Once your evergreen wisteria reaches the top of the fence or trellis, prune some of the lower stems to shorten them and stimulate new growth.
Prune your vine periodically to keep it within bounds. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) can encourage your vine to keep blooming.
To keep your vine thriving, keep the soil moist and provide the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly, or two to three applications of granular fertilizer during the growing season. While this plant has few pest problems, it can be affected by whiteflies, spider mites, and aphids, so keep a look out for any unwanted visitors to your vines.
Adding evergreen wisteria to your landscape is a great way to incorporate some vibrant summer color and climbing visual interest to any landscape.
For more information on evergreen wisteria, contact your county Extension office.