Saturday, February 5, 2011


If there ever was a plant that captures the imagination of a gardener, it's wisteria. This is the 3rd write of failure.  The first was failure of region.  The second is the uncontrollable failure caused by Mother Nature.  This post is about failure to say "no more" or as I'd like to call it, "I must be dumb".  Failure comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes.  Many times it goes beyond just experimenting with a plant or a dream; it teaches us things about who we are and how resolute we are to making them work. That's where the dumb part comes in for me.  I'm as stubborn as an ox. After many journeys of seeing this plant and attempting to grow it here in Tucson, here is what I have to say.

It is said to grow in Tucson.  Where? I do not know.  Have I seen this plant here?  No. Do they sell it in Spring at the garden centers?  Yes. Have I attempted growing this plant?  Yes and many many times. Once you've seen one grow over an arbor, it's takes your breathe away. They do well in California. Did it grow for you? Yes.  I have a green thumb and can make anything grow. Did it grow well?  No.  Did you place it in different exposures?  Yes.  How much money have you spent over the years on this plant?  Too much.  Why are you so dumb? I don't know.  I like to dream big, but instead I failed big with this plant.  Will you purchase this plant again when it tempts you this spring in the garden center? I'm trying to control my plant addictions and impulses.  I am hoping my body and mind will cooperate.  The mind must say no and the hands stay low from the shelves.

This is the personal conversation that goes on in my head everytime I see the bare rooted plants in their bags for 5 bucks.  They are similiar in growth to the grape, which by the way, grows extremely well here.  I will be honest folks.  I am not giving up on this plant because I feel that once I have the right spot for it, I will be able to create something very special.  It is said to grow in Tucson but as a man of plants that has a good eye.....I've NEVER seen this plant in our city yet these guys are the first to disappear off the shelves.  There might be someone out there in town who has one like the picture above.  However, I do know this.  In winter, it will lose its' leaves here and in summer, like a strong vine, it will grow.  It does like sun, but the tricky part is making sure the desert sun doesn't burn the plant which it can do.  It also needs some water to establish.  The soil is key for this plant.  Our soil is mostly clay here.  I do not recommend planting this species at all.  For most people, it will disappoint.  If you want those beautiful purple flowers, I recommend the Mountain Laurel which is a slow growing evergreen bush here. It has intense purple flowers and a smell that will blow you away. More about that plant later. If you want a similiar type vine like wisteria, try a native grape vine or several of the varieties of grapes.....or the purple lilac vine.  I've used those plants and they've done extremely well.  Don't be too tough on yourselves....sometimes a challenge can be a good thing in the garden.  This is the expected know you've failed many times with a plant, but you still want to keep trying because maybe the next one may succeed......and sometimes it does.  The answer to this failure is perserverance or moving on.  I have several more failures coming up for this series, until next time.....happy gardening!


  1. They are such a beautiful plant and I can understand why you have not given up. If I had a place to grow one...believe me, I would. Well, I would have a place to grow two if "The Italian" would put up that fence at the back and front of the property!!

  2. Okay.....I saw wisteria today in someone's yard. It doesn't bloom, but it is green and full. Apparently, in town, there is a random wisteria vine growing....I will investigate.

  3. Wisteria is absolutely spectacular for a few weeks out of the year, then the flowers drop and it's a nice green vine. Be very carefull, it is a STRONG vine and will pull down and wreck weak structures and fences.

  4. It even flowers in zone 10 where temps reach 46C in the summer.I am growing white and the blue one.Spectacular blooms.

  5. When I moved to Tucson in 1986 there was a glorious wisteria, huge and blooming, at a business on the south side of Broadway, as I recall. It may have been Speedway. You could see it from the street and I made a point of stopping and walking up to it. They torn it down when they tore down the building. It was on the east side, if that helps your future attempts to get one to bloom. Many glorious plants have been torn down here, including the huge and fabulous Jacaranda that was at Craycroft and Grant, a truly insane thing to have done.The bunches of purple flowers were stunning.

    1. They sure have torn out a good many plants here. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Yes, I wondered why that Jacarabda tree was cut down? It was so beautiful when blooming..


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