Spring is Blossom Time

    • Gladiolus make wonderful cut flowers throughout the summer. Plant some every two weeks for continuous blooms.
    • It’s time to put out oriole feeders. You can also attract them with fresh orange halves.
    • Flower seeds can be sown directly in the garden now. Cosmos, marigolds and zinnias will give you beautiful flowers all summer.
    • Plant the vegetable garden this month, but remember that late frosts can still nip tender young plants.
    • Petunias can’t be beat for large, colorful blooms all summer long.

Sensational Wisteria

One of our most long-lived and reliable vines is the wisteria. Trained over an arbor or trellis with its long clusters of fragrant flowers almost covering the plant, it is truly a glorious sight.

Wisteria are hardy, vigorous, twining vines that have many landscape uses. They live for many years and can climb to great heights by means of twining stems. Older, established plants may have a twisted, woody trunk several inches in diameter.

Wisteria can be trained on a variety of supports. The important thing is that they are strong. As a wisteria grows, its trunk and branches become thick and heavy, sometimes outliving and replacing its support. They can be supported on trellises, hung from eaves (though they will try to creep into the house), espaliered on a fence or allowed to climb a tree. Make sure that the twining wisteria stems don’t girdle young trees.

Wisteria can also be trained to a standard, or tree shape, when young. They need to be pruned heavily in winter and have the long shoots removed throughout the summer to keep them from becoming vines.

There are two types of wisteria: Chinese and Japanese. The Chinese is the more common with 12-inch flower clusters that open all at once. The Japanese wisteria has very long clusters, 18-36 inches, and the flowers open in succession giving a longer, but less spectacular bloom. The most common flowers of both kinds are violet-blue, but white and pink forms are also available. Chinese wisteria will bloom in considerable shade while Japanese wisteria needs full sun.

Under normal conditions wisteria should bloom every spring. Sometimes a hard, late frost will kill the flower buds and lessen the bloom. Grafted plants should bloom within two years of planting. Plants which are grown from seed often do not bloom for 10 to 15 years or longer. A plant will also fail to bloom: if it does not receive enough sunlight; if it has been stimulated by excess nitrogen fertilizer; or if it has been pruned too heavily or improperly pruned.

If your wisteria is over 5 years old and hasn’t bloomed, try this: in late spring, dig a ditch around the vine 2 to 3 feet from its base and 18 inches deep. Mix 2 lbs. of superphosphate in with the soil and refill the trench. This combined root pruning and high-bloom fertilizer should help it bloom by next year. Do not allow suckers to sprout from the base of any wisteria, since the best varieties are grafted and suckers come from the rootstock.

Wisteria is grown primarily for the beauty of its showy, deliciously fragrant flowers. Its rapid growth rate makes it a good choice when fast coverage is desired.

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