A Purple Cascade

“A Purple Cascade”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


The neighbor’s wisteria is blooming.  A sure sign of spring.

Mine is not blooming yet nor does it bloom as profusely – a little too much shade.  Theirs is growing up a huge pine tree which is really not such a good idea.  These rampant growers can strangle a tree by girdling it. 

While they may be invasive, come spring time they are spectacular when in bloom, and it is understandable why they are so popular.




The showy, sweet-smelling flowers is what sells this plant.  I remember when I was a child, our next door neighbors had a large pergola covered with wisteria.  When it was in bloom, with the delicious fragrance perfuming the air, that arbor was to me the most romantic and fairy tale-like place to be.  Every time I smell the wisteria blossoms, it brings back the memory of that pergola.

The reason that this plant is not welcomed in many areas is because it is such an easy to grow plant and when it escapes the landscape into the wild, it spreads very aggressively and chokes out native trees and shrubs.  When driving down the highway where there are still wooded areas, you can see large areas blanketed by the purple and white wisteria flowers.  While this is a very lovely sight, you have to wonder what plants this vine may be smothering.  There are two native wisteria vines that are better behaved and not considered invasive.  These are really a better choice in many areas.

I am trying to grow mine as a single trunk or tree form.  This is how my dad grew one years ago.  Since it doen’t require any support and is kept trimmed back, it doesn’t get out of hand.  I hope mine starts blooming soon because I just love those purple cascades of fragant flowers.



  1. Janet said,

    March 24, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    My daughter and husband both like the wisteria and I have spent a good deal of time explaining/ showing them how invasive some wisteria can become. I wish people would check into which wisteria is the better one to have. I love purple flowers and think wisteria is pretty….just breaks my heart to see it growing throughout the woods, as you mentioned.

  2. Tatyana said,

    March 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Very good informative post! I think I’d like to borrow your idea to grow it as a tree with a single trunk. Thanks, Jan!

  3. kerri said,

    March 24, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve always loved wisteria but rarely see it here in our area. It grew abundantly in Australia, where I grew up, and I remember it the way you do….as a fairytale vine, hanging gracefully from an arbor or some other support, and perfuming the air around with that wonderful fragrance.

  4. Jen said,

    March 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I can hardly wait for ours to bloom, but it will be several months still.

    They are really lovely.


  5. March 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    WOW! It looks wonderful. Is the smell strong? For example, Jasmine is not so strong, you need to be near the plant to smell it, but Passion Vine has a strong one. Just curious.

  6. Phillip said,

    March 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    It can be aggressive here too. I planted the variety called “Amethyst” which is supposed to be tamer. Mine is only a few years old and hasn’t really taken off yet.

  7. Jan said,

    March 25, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Janet, it is the Chinese and Japanese wisterias that can get out of hand. Wisteria frutescens is one of the natives that does not. Amethyst Falls is a lovely varitey.

    They can be lovely when grown that way, Tatyana, and it does keep this rampant grower in bounds.

    Kerri, around here it is very abundant. Most people just let it grow up a tree which as I said isn’t a good idea. I think the gorgeous blooms is what entices people to plant this vine. I think it does bring back memories for many people as this used to be very popular years ago.

    Jen, yes, they are beautiful. One of the local restaurants has several growing over the outdoor eating area, and when it is in bloom, it is gorgeous.

    Chandrabouli, you do not have to be too close to smell the fragrance. I think it is because there are so many flowers. It is not a strong, overpowering fragrance, but it it so lovely.

    Phillip, you have the less rampant type which is so much better for a garden, and your flowers are a deeper, richer purple which is very regal looking.

  8. tina said,

    March 25, 2009 at 5:36 am

    They are really something to see in bloom. I have two and neither one has ever bloomed:( It’s okay though. Stay dry!

    • Jan said,

      March 26, 2009 at 4:46 am

      Tina, sometimes they say if you root prune a wisteria, it will then bloom. You didn’t say how old yours were so this may be a thought if you have had them for several years.

      Randy, the evergreen wisteria is not a Chinese or Japanese Wisteria which are way too rampant and can grow to 40 feet. The one you are thinking of is Amethyst Falls which is a Wisteria frutescens or the evergreen type Wisteria millittia. Those two are much better for the smaller gardens we have now.

      Sylvia, I didn’t support mine; I just kept trimming it back, and it has made a trunk. You could use a stake to get it started esp. if the vine is very young and supple. My parents’ vine didn’t have any support which is why I didn’t use any.

      April, it is pretty much the same thing here. I particularly like when the white and purple are present together. It is a lovely sight.

      Brenda, all those cascading flowers does make for a romantic setting.

      SB, you are right about keeping it under control with a lawn mower. That is an easy way to deal with suckers.

  9. Randy said,

    March 25, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Speaking of Wisteria, Jan, how’s your Chinese evergreen wisteria doing? We’ve been thinking about ordering some for a pretty good sized trellis.

  10. Sylvia (England) said,

    March 25, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Jan, I am interested in growing wisteria as a standard (tree form) – doesn’t it require some support in the early years? The ones I have seen have support throughout their live.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  11. April said,

    March 25, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Wisteria is covering South Alabama…it is every where you look…literally

  12. Brenda Kula said,

    March 25, 2009 at 11:03 am

    This plant always reminds me of budding romance for some reason.

  13. Sweet Bay said,

    March 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    We grow a wisteria in shrub form, from a sucker that we dug from my husband’s grandmother’s farm. One of my neighbors growing up grew wisteria that way, and it does make a beautiful shrub. The flowers and fragrance are wonderful aren’t they. It’s aggressive here in NC too. It seems the best and easiest way to keep it is put it somewhere one can mow around it.

  14. Donna said,

    June 2, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Help! I am absolutely sick about my choice of “Amethyst Falls” wisteria for a pergola we had built just off our kitchen. I was so excited to have this beautiful vine planted by our local nursery and spent a fortune on two which were already attached to 4 ft trellises ( I wanted to get them up to the top of the pergola as quickly as possible!) They bloomed a little last year and now this year are COVERED in purple blossoms. Here’s the problem: They STINK! They wreak of a cat urine odor so pungent on a breezy day you have to walk away. I am furious about this because I specifically told the nursery I wanted something with a fragrant scent, being that they are planted just off my kitchen. Do all wisteria give off this odor or just the “American” version of this vine? So far my research says just Am. Falls (note to self – always check the internet before buying!) Also, though the abundant blooms are awesome, I wouldn’t mind a variety that blooms less since their falling petals will be a nuisance to clean up and this will be growing over a seating area of our patio.

    • Jan said,

      June 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

      Donna, I am surprised by your report on your wisterias. My neighbor has Amethyst Falls, and I have never noticed an odor. I think, from what I have just researched on the internet, that this is the only one that has this smell. I know the Chinese and Japanese forms have a very fragrant smell. If I were you, I would be tempted to move these away from a seating area to another area of the garden where maybe they can just be observed. As to the problem with the falling flowers on the seating area, I think that any flowering vine will create that problem as it gets bigger and older. Maybe if you had a blooming vine that just grew along the perimeter and not over the seating area, that might help with that problem. I know you are so disappointed by this especially after spending so much money. I think I would have to call the nursery where you bought these about this, esp. since you told them you wanted something fragrant (pleasantly fragrant, that is).

  15. Leslie said,

    April 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    I have recently moved to South Carolina. A garden center that we go to every year has the most beautiful Chinese Evergreen Wisteria. They are growing in very large pots on a patio. They have a decorative metal “bird cage” type trellis over the pots. The garden center told me they were getting a shipment this week and when I went they tried to sell me Amethyst Falls Wisteria and said it was the same thing just from different companies. I did not get it because the pots on the patio bloom later in the summer and not this early (they were just green and had no blooms when I went). And I specifically remember the color was a brighter and deeper purple. These Amethyst Falls plants were the usual light lavender color. I have a few questions. Am I right that these are not the same? Is it a good idea to grow your wisteria in pots like that with the cage-like trellis, wouldn’t that keep it from being invasive? And do you know where I can get it? I am having a hard time finding it. Thanks!!

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Leslie, Amethyst Falls is a dark purple. If you want a light purple, the ones currently at your garden center may be mislabled, but they do not sound like Amethyst Falls which does bloom later. Amethyst Falls does not grow as large as Chinese or Japanese Wisteria, so growing them in pots would probably be okay. If you really want the dark purple, I would not buy what they have available now. I would wait until I was sure of what I was buying.

    • I
  • Leslie said,

    April 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks Jan you’re awesome! This evergreen wisteria is exactly what I’m looking for. Now if I can just find some I’ll be set.

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