How to Support Wisteria Vines

Supporting wisteria vines with a strong, sturdy support structure is essential because the vines can become very heavy as they mature.

Whether you’re preparing to grow a new wisteria in your garden or maintaining an existing wisteria vine, proper support is necessary.

In this article I’ll share my tips for supporting wisteria vines in your garden.

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wisteria vine on a fence

Wisteria vines can be grown on a trellis, pergola, arbor, fence or other similar support structure.

Wisterias can easily grow up to 30 feet long and become very heavy so it’s important to choose a sturdy support structure and keep them to a manageable size with regular pruning.

If you have limited space it’s best to choose an American wisteria variety like Wisteria frutescens, which are less aggressive growers than the Asian wisterias like Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria  (Wisteria floribunda). [1]

Choosing the location

If you’re planting a new wisteria vine, choose a spot in the garden that receives at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight each day and is protected from strong winds.

Wisteria flower buds can be damaged by hard spring frosts so choose a sheltered position if you can.

Ideally it’s best to plant wisterias away from trees and other plants because they can easily take over the garden.

Take the time to choose the best location in your yard because it’s very hard to move the vine if you change your mind down the track.

wisteria on an arbor

Planting and securing the vine

Once you’ve chosen the site, dig a hole at the base of the support structure, about twice the size of the root ball.

Wisterias aren’t too fussy about soil type, so you generally don’t need to worry about adding compost, except if your soil is very sandy or clay.

Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil and give it a thorough watering.

The wisteria can then be tied securely to the fence with wire or garden twine as it grows. 

Wisteria vines can take several years to mature and become established but it’s a good idea to prune any secondary shoots that grow from the main trunk of the vine in early spring.

This will encourage the vine to grow vertically instead of horizontally.

wisteria support

Growing wisteria on a pergola

Growing a wisteria vine on a pergola is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the long clusters of flowers as they hang down from the pergola.

Wisteria vines can grow several inches thick and can become very heavy so you’ll need a pergola with sturdy timber posts that are securely anchored in the ground with concrete footings.

You can train the vine to grow around the post or secure it to the post using garden twine so that it grows straight upwards.

Encourage the main vine to grow upwards by removing the side shoots as the vine grows.

wisteria on a pergola

Growing wisteria against a wall

Another way to support wisteria vines is to grow them against a brick wall.

To do this you’ll need to attach brackets to the wall and run lengths of galvanized wire between the brackets.

It’s best to put the brackets and wire in place before planting because it’s harder to install them after the wisteria is in the ground.

Once the vine has reached the top of the wall, encourage it to grow horizontally by tying it in place.

wisteria growing on a wall

Growing wisteria on a fence

The base of a wire fence is the perfect place for a wisteria to grow.

Just make sure that the fence is sturdy and able to support the weight of the vine as it matures.

wisteria growing on a fence

What to do if your wisteria support collapses

Wisterias that are grown on old fences or flimsy trellises can easily fall down as they get older, especially during strong winds.

If your wisteria has gotten so heavy that it breaks it’s support you’ll need to cut it back and rebuild the trellis or fence using strong timber posts with concrete footings.

Wisteria growing tips

Avoid planting wisterias too close to other plants because they can quickly crowd them out.

Don’t train a wisteria vine to grow around a tree because it can pull the branches off the tree.

If you’re growing a wisteria vine alongside your house you’ll need to prune it heavily to ensure that it doesn’t damage the gutters on your house.

Once established, wisterias are hardy and fairly drought tolerant, only needing water during hot, dry weather.

Take care not to over fertilize wisteria vines because you’ll get lots of foliage but not many flowers.

Wisteria plants need to be pruned twice a year to keep them tidy and healthy.

Pruning in late winter helps to prepare the buds for the flowering season and in mid summer you can remove the long shoots after the plant has finished flowering.

wisteria plant


So there are some ideas for support structures you can use for your wisteria vine.

With a strong support your wisteria will grow into a beautiful focal point in your garden.

What type of wisteria support structure do you use? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

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