Wisteria Bonsai

Wisteria bonsai came from a genus of a climbing plant coming from the pea family and is now a common bonsai plant. Commonly bearing purple, pink or white flowers, this type of plant is a perfect ornamental plant. These twinning and woody climbers usually lives on moist soil and can ascent as much as 20 meters before spreading laterally. These plants are predominantly growing in Korea, Japan, China and in the southern and central regions of USA.


Wisteria Floribunda was first introduced to the United States in the year 1830 when it was brought from Japan. Over the period of several decades, this plant spread in various regions in US and other countries neighboring Japan. At present, the largest plantation is located in Sierra Madre, California planted with Chinese variety in the year 1984.


Wisteria can be easily recognized by its rigid, robust stems grappling around a host plant. It is often characterized by glossy green foliage alternately connected to its branch. Depending on the variety, the plant blooms during a particular season in a chandelier-like form with colors ranging from purple or violet, white or pink. Despite of its adorable flowers, it is considered to be an invasive species as it tends to overtake and choke neighboring plants. It may be aggressive to other plants but it cannot run away from the larvae of Lepidoptera species that consumes this plant for food.


There are several varieties of this species known to bonsai enthusiasts. Each variety has its own distinction over the rest of the family but all of them are equally stunning and perfect for a bonsai. The manner of growing and caring for the plant may vary from one variety to another.

Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria Sinensis)

This variety is predominantly found in the provinces of Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Guangxi and other provinces of mainland China, thus the name. Considered to be a perennial, deciduous vine, this variety is considered to be a prolific bloomer bearing large clusters of bluish- purple, lavender and white flowers during the last days of spring towards early summer. The flowers are so fragrant that you can smell them several meters away. Once the flowers fade, the plant bears pea-pods holding its velvety seeds.

Sub Categories of W. Sinensis:

  1. W. Sinensis Alba – bears pearly white flowers
  2. W. Sinensis Prolific – abundantly produces tons of flowers in the shade of blue
  3. W. sinensis Sierra Madre – the variety that produces the most fragrant lavender flowers with white centers.

This kind of Wisteria bonsai may produce bright colored and fragrant flowers. However, it was discovered that majority of the plant contains Wisterin, a certain type of glycoside which is considered a toxin if ingested. It may cause stomach pains, nausea and diarrhea.


Chinese Wisteria is known to be a sun lover. Thus, this plant must be placed in a sunlight-rich location. Through this, you will expect the plant to grow quickly and will produce abundant flowers. The soil in the pot must have just the exact amount of moisture to keep the plant healthy. Too much or too little water is not good for the plant. Once the soil is completely dried out, re-watering is necessary. A portable moisture reader will be able to help you determine the amount of water left in the soil.

Watering and Fertilizing

As previously mentioned, watering must only be done once the soil is completely dry. Addition of fertilizer is a good practice to reinforce the lost nutrients in the soil. Liquid foliar fertilizers are proven to be the best option. Periodic fertilizing every 2 weeks for half a dose or once every month for the regular dose must be followed except during winter. It is important to avoid synthetic or chemical fertilizers to prevent possible harm to the plant.

Trimming and Pruning

Trimming and pruning is an activity that most Chinese Wisteria bonsai owners enjoy. Pruning is simply done by just pinching new sprouts on the plant. Trimming, on the other hand, is best done once 6-8 leaves appear and reducing it back to 2 leaves is the perfect formula.


Propagation is the same for all varieties. You can propagate them either by grafting, layering or hard and soft cutting.


Repotting must be done during mid-summer when the weather is averagely temperate. For perennial plants like the Chinese Wisteria, repotting every two years will yield the most desirable results.

Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria Floribunda)

This variety is native to Japan and was introduced to the United Stated in the 1830’s. Japanese Wisteria has more leaflets compared to its Chinese sibling. Among the Wisteria family, this variety has the most remarkable flowering mechanism. It produces the longest flower racemes that can grow up to half a meter. Form these racemes, abundant clusters of pink, white, violet or blue flowers bloom during spring. The flowers spread a fruity fragrance similar to that of grapes.

Sub Categories of W. Floribunda:

  1. W. floribunda Black Dragon – has deep purple color contrary to the name that suggests “Black”
  2. W. floribunda Rosea or Honka – has sweet pink flowers delicately scented making it enticing compared to the other varieties.
  3. W. floribunda Macrobotrys or Kyushaku – has fragrant lilac flowers

Though Japanese Wisteria bonsai may look and smell sweet and delicate, they are considered to be a deadly predator. With its vigorous and sturdy stems, it can kill a neighboring plant by way of grappling.


This vine grows quickly on fertile, moist but well-drained soil. If you are expecting for a full bloom, you need to place the plant in a location where it can get plenty of sun. Though they can survive a on a sun-deprived area, less to no flowers can be expected. In order to improve the condition of the soil, addition of organic compost is recommended.

Watering and Fertilizing

Since this variety grows better on moist soil, watering must be maintained. Completely dried out soil must be avoided. If you want to be almost exact in determining the current moisture content of the soil, it is better to invest on a moisture meter. In order to supplement lost nutrients in the soil, periodic fertilization of the plant is suggested. The most ideal frequency of fertilization is once a month except during winter. Foliar fertilizers are best for Japanese Wisteria bonsai.

Trimming and Pruning

Trimming and pruning is the best way to shape the bonsai. This is also the secret for the plant to bloom prolifically. Pinching combined with strategic trimming will keep your bonsai miniature. This process must be done during winter.


There a lot of ways to propagate the Japanese variety such as soft and hard wood cuttings, grafting or by layering.


Repotting of your bonsai is necessary to supply fresh soil and to compact its roots. For deciduous plants like Japanese and Chinese varieties, periodic repotting every two years is recommended and the best time to do it is during summer.

American Wisteria (Wisteria Frutescens)

This third variety of Wisteria vines is mostly seen in the regions of central and southern regions of America. This type has characteristics intermediate to those of the Chinese and Japanese versions. The American variety blooms blue to purple flowers and typically larger than those of the other varieties. Due to its prominent flowers, this tree is being preferred for ornamental purposes. This variety can be propagated in the same manner as the others varieties. In addition, its seeds can be planted to produce more of its kind.

Unlike its Japanese and Chinese counterpart, this variety can be grown indoors as it does not require much sunlight. Just enough amount of water is best for this type of Wisteria bonsai and periodic fertilization of controlled dosage is suggested. If you want to keep the growth of the plant controlled, trimming and pruning may be necessary. However, be sure to do it during the end of winder while repotting must be done during summer.