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Wisteria Vines

Wisteria Bonsai

Diaries Of Wisteria Bonsai

05/13/2017:  2617 Days To Bloom
Simple layered root formation

We decided to clone triplets...

When wisteria flowers, it is recommended to cut the long shoots.  We decided to perform simple layering instead.

The first long shoot was submerged in April.  We checked the development this weekend and we have some nice little roots starting from the stem not far below the soil.  

Wisteria sinensis 3 cloned from simple layering
Since that worked so well and we have more long shoots forming, we decided to perform simple layering with them, but in their own pots.  They each are getting started in 5 gallon planters.

When the wisteria becomes dormant, we will cut the clones from the main plant.  The wisteria cloned in the same planter will be moved to its own planter at that time.

04/02/2017: 2658 Days To Bloom
Wisteria sinensis 'Thing One'

Thing One clone was twirled around a dried stick we found in the backyard and sunk deep into the potting soil.

Having it lay limp and drape over another planter was kind of annoying. 

Here we are, Thing One standing tall like a big boy.

03/28/2017: 2663 Days To Bloom

So, Thing Two is transplanted to a nice half barrel.  It was the least we could to.  In the transplant, Thing Two was righted so the trunk was reasonably straight.  There was another branch low to the soil that is quite thick.  This was set up to regenerate the twin, Thing One. 

Simple layering by pushing the stem deep under the soil
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One'
Layer Propagation.
with a long stem sticking out.  It looks awkward, but we can always right Thing One again once established.  

Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'
Thing Two looks quite strong. The main trunk is thick and the stems stand up pretty straight.  We have done no training for Thing Two and I wonder if this helps make the trunk stronger or if the Wisteria vine just naturally grows a stronger trunk no matter what happens.

Thing Two still looks a bit windblown, but maybe this will get evened out after being moved to a different location for growing.

Now, for companion planting.  What would look nice underfoot of the beautiful wisteria vine year round?

03/25/2017: 2666 Days To Bloom

Thing Two is growing again, reaching out and many buds on some firm dark wood and new shoots all over.  I think it's time for Thing Two to have a baby. To make a baby, we are going to employ simple layering.

Simple layering is a method of using a shoot that has many
Wisteria Sinensis 'Thing Two'
buds; enough buds for at least one to be underground to grow new roots and at least one above ground to grow new leaves.  We have many shoots to choose from this year. This way, we can have Thing One again, a matching plant to bookend Thing Two.

Maybe even two more. Some other Cat In The Hat character references... Maybe Sally and Fish...  But I think a total Suess break is in order and go for the massive blue hair again with Tomomi and Mikage.  We shall have Thing One, Thing Two, Tomomi and Mikage.  Sounds good...

Wisteria Sinsensis 'Thing Two'
03/27/2016: 3029 Days To Bloom

This year, Thing Two came back, bigger and stronger than ever.  We don't yet have the site set up for Thing two to spread out on a steel espalier by the beehives, but it is coming.  Maybe by next spring.  In the mean time, we can follow the video instructions below to cut Thing Two back and encourage flower growth.

In April, we will have passed the season Wisteria generally flowers, so it will be safe to prune for bonsai training.  The overall objective is an imperial bonsai (60 - 80 inches tall).  We will want the trunk portion to grow thick, and gain height which is a slow process.  Right now, Thing Two stands a vertical 1.5 feet tall.  

Because Thing Two will be on an espalier, the growth will be kind of flat looking.  We will also probably go for a windswept look with the trunk further on the West side, appearing to blow towards the beehives.  With basic instructions from Thompson Morgan, achieving this goal will be pretty easy.  Basic idea would looksort of  like the image below.

Wisteria Senesis Espalier Training
For any troubleshooting, The Royal Horticultural Society has some pointers. The actual training will probably take place after the site is set up and the steel post and cable espalier is fully set up.  Patience... Wisteria and bonsai are projects requiring loads of patience.

How To Prune Wisteria To Stimulate Flower Production

Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'

07/02/2015: 3298 Days To Bloom

I can't believe it's almost been a year since the last update.  The vines went dormant shortly after the last update.  Thing One never made a come back, so we have Thing Two.  No remarkable growth, but it seems to be surviving well enough.

It's still tucked in among the lemon grass, olive tree and rosemary pots to keep the roots cooler.  The lack of direct sunlight may be stunting it a bit, but that's okay.  It won't be too long before it will have reign over a super long espalier around our beehives.

Wisteria is supposed to be excellent for bees, will
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' Dead
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' Dead
grow quickly to provide shade over the beehives during the summer and enter it's stick form of domance during the winter (even though our winters are very mild) and allow sunshine to warm the beehives.  We may not continue working this particular plant as a bonsai, but will definitely get more for bonsai training.  

You can see the wisteria stick jutting out from the white clover.  I was using white clover as a 'water canary' to ensure enough water was being provided.  No hope for Thing One at this point.
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two' 

08/23/2014: 3611 Days To Bloom

Since repotting, the clumps of white dutch clover have recovered quite successfully and the wisteria vines have started growing.  The former later bloomer, Thing Two, has surpassed Thing One in being the first to sprout leaves.  the leaves seem to be sprouting from the bottom up towards the top of the vines.

Thanks again to mikbonsai for giving some great advice on advancing the health and growth of these two vines.

Since we had some news, I broke out the macro
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two' With Possible Scale Coccoidea
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two' With
Possible Scale Coccoidea
lense to take close up photos of the leaves and stem development, and also to help myself and anyone else reading this diary become familiar with wisteria anatomy and growth habits.  I highly recommend macro photo logging of plants and plant development.  This has helped me a great number of times to see something I had not noticed by eye only.

One such example is the possible scale on Thing Two.  These are the little black dots along the stem. They are very hard to notice until they are quite large and have caused a lot of damage.  Because these look like bumps, they would most likely be hard scale insects, which don't move around once settled in.  We can easily get rid of them organically by dabbing them with an alcohol soaked cotton ball every couple of days at this point.  

Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' 
Thing One seemed to have been off to a good start, but a photo of the top looks like it somehow dried out.   Not to worry, it looks like there's another leaf bud ready and willing to go forward with the main stalk progress.  I'm not sure of the growth habits of Wisteria Sinensis yet but will be learning all about it through this experience.

The top of Thing Two seemed to have been lopped off as well, so I'm not actually sure if they were cut before shipment, or something happened after.  No matter, they're getting started now.

Thing One doesn't have any black spots, so it should be free of scale, but I can rub it down with a bit of alcohol just in case.

So, it looks like we're on our way of getting familiar
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' 
with how Thing One and Thing Two grow.  That's all they have to do this season.  I don't expect much since the growing season was shortened due to late dormancy before shipment, and we're already in September with not much going on.

Next year, we can observe the advice from Thompson Morgan about how to grow and prune wisteria.  For bonsai, we will be focusing on the trunk and branch development:

In terms of bonsai, the trunk and branches of the Wisteria bonsai are developed first by allowing the roots plenty of room to extend; either by using a large pot or by annual rootpruning. ~
The idea is to develop a nice tapering trunk.  Details based on bonsai style are at the Bonsai Tree Gardener site.

Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' 

08/17/2014: 3617 Days To Bloom

Thanks to information from mikbonsai some changes were made for the wisteria to see if this helps with the development.  Originally, they were planted in mostly our organic clay soil, with some potting soil mixed in.  mikbonsai suggested they may be getting too much water.  

The resolution for too much water is very easy.  Change out the soil, from our clay soil to all potting soil, and continue with the watering as usual.  

Repotting was kind of sad, because many of the dutch white clover that were doing so well were lost in the process.  The old soil was dumped out, and it was indeed very moist.  There was very little root development underground, but fortunately neither Thing One or Thing Two smelled of rotted roots.  Maybe we caught them timely.  

None of the old soil was kept.  There were many earthworms in both containers, so at least they were
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'
Wisteria Sinensis,
'Thing Two' 
happy.  New potting soil was dumped in, the wisteria vines replanted, and a clump of dutch white clover was added back to each of the planters.  Hopefully the dutch white will recover well.  White and Red clovers are edible and good for our bees.

Hopefully, the wisteria will now become as prolific as everyone warns about and we can get on with the bonsai training.  They are set on the north side of the bunch of mediterranean potted plants and get a great deal of sunshine each day.

Wisteria Sinensis,'Thing One' and 'Thing Two'
Wisteria Sinensis,'Thing Two'  (left) and 'Thing One' (right) 

Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing One' 

08/16/2014: 3618 Days To Bloom

I had no idea the wisteria would be so slow to make leaves.  It's been 31 days and we have some leaf buds that are threatening to sprout on both Thing One and Thing Two.

Thing One's leaf buds seem to be fuller and more prominent, while Thing Two's leaf buds are more prolific around the base of the trunk and less full.  I'm not sure what to make of the differences, and the lighting is bad near sundown.

I suppose the lack of activity topside is an indicator of healthy root development happening below the soil line.  The trunks and leaf buds look healthy enough.  Too bad we got them so late in the season and they have little time to get started.
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'
Wisteria Sinensis, 'Thing Two'

A nice wisteria blog I found and like to check in on is sunil's garden.  He's had favorable experience with a couple of wisteria vines and they do well for him in the UK.  For his garden, the wisteria is being allowed to grow free form, unlike the bonsai training my vines are in for. It is nice to read a blog that follows the development of wisteria... I don't feel so crazy for starting the Bonzai Diaries.  

How to tell wisteria leaf and flower buds apart
How to tell wisteria leaf and flower buds apart

If you have wisteria and ever wonder how you can tell the difference between leaf and flower buds, this photo is an excellent guide.  As much as I may hope I find some flower buds in the future, I can just take a look at this picture to reassure myself that I probably have only leaf buds...  for a decade or so.

07/17/2014: 3648 Days To Bloom

Oh, Snap!  Looks like I was wrong.  These wisteria vines were grown from seed, as the seller clarified just
Wisteria bonsai after flowering
Wisteria bonsai after flowering
today.  And the vines are only one year old.  This specific type of wisteria can take a few decades to flower...  Unless:
Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk, root pruning, or drought stress. ~ Wikipedia  
This could be fortunate.  Bonsai cultivation is basically main trunk abuse and root pruning after a few years of regular development.  Being that bonsai is a decades kind of hobby, it certainly doesn't hurt to wait it out....  And hopefully they will bloom in 10 - 20 years.  Otherwise I'll have to change their names to the Matrix Twins.

Even so, the wisteria bonsai without flowers looks quite attractive.

Wisteria Sinensis, potted and soaked in the rain
Wisteria Sinensis, potted and first soaking in
 the rain 'Thing One' and 'Thing Two'/15/2014

7/15/2014: 3650 Days To Bloom

We're going to start naming our bonsai candidates.  For the wisteria, I'm choosing Thing One and Thing Two, based on the twin characters from a Dr. Seuss book The Cat In The Hat.  

These two characters were released from a box and promptly began wreaking havoc everywhere...  Get it?  Well, if not, the link for these names is the blue fluff of hair, that will be represented by the racines of flowers on the top of the mature Wisteria bonsai and the damage potential.  Thing one is the first to break dormancy, and of course the other is Thing Two.

Wisteria Sinensis, bare root
Wisteria Sinensis, bare root


Our wisteria vines arrived today!  How exciting!  The wisteria was shipped bare root, wrapped in damp paper and in a box that helped prevent them from getting snapped in half.

We researched what to look for in Wisteria plants, and it seems the best results and earliest flowers are provided by the plants that are grafted rather than seed-sprouted.

The grafts are evident by "creases" around the soil
Wisteria Sinensis, grafting marks
Wisteria Sinensis, grafting marks
line.  We were able to easily identify these marks on the little twigs of vines.  When planting the vines, the soil should be just below or at these marks.

Wisteria Sinensis, roots and trunks
Wisteria Sinensis, roots and trunks
As shown in the picture to the left, the wisteria roots are quite thick in comparison to the stems or 'trunk' of the vine and the trunks are covered with buds, indicating potential leaf growth that can be expected.

These particular vines seemed to be eager to break dormancy, so we
Wisteria Sinensis, leaf bud
Wisteria Sinensis, leaf bud 'Thing One'
had to pot them up quickly to ensure the best success.  As it turns out, timing was excellent.  We had a micro-burst of a monsoon storm here that cooled us down to just below 90F.  This allowed me to plant the little magic wands of plant vines into the planters, soak them down with water, sprinkle in some white dutch clover for a living mulch and let them recover in cooler temperatures and lower lights overnight.

So, off to a good start!  Hoping for some good fortune with these!


I've always wanted wisteria vines.  They are so gorgeous!
Today we ordered two small Wisteria sinensis vines.  No idea how old they are or how many years to wait patiently before they bloom.  

The flower petals are edible, but the seed pods can be deadly.  All the more reason to keep them potted up somewhere to control the seed drops.


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