Wisteria flowers are beautiful, known for their fragrance and the cascading effect of the blue and purple blossoms. They are a natural choice for home gardeners, but choosing a location for wisteria is important in making sure that the plant does well and does not cause damage. Can you grow wisteria on a balcony?
You can’t grow wisteria on a balcony unless the structure is exceptionally sturdy and allows for the plant to be rooted in the ground, not a planter. It’s recommended that wisteria is planted away from the home or any structures not made to hold heavy plants, as the thick vines can cause damage.
Wisteria can be a beautiful addition to a home garden or yard but needs to be understood so that it can be grown safely and healthily. Although it is not an ideal balcony plant, there are other good locations for wisteria and other flowers that grow well on a balcony. Read on.
Wisteria is a vining plant that grows very quickly, producing purplish and bluish flowers with a sweet, summery fragrance. The vines can grow up to one hundred feet in length, becoming very thick and heavy. Some varieties can even grow as a tree under the right circumstances.
Wisteria is popular for its beautiful blossoms and cascading effect, often chosen to cover a fence, entryway, or wall of a house, or to provide groundcover. However, it’s important to understand the plant so that you know how to care for it and to make sure that the plant does no damage to the structure of your home or the local ecosystem.
Natives vs. Invasives
Invasive species can pose a serious threat to wildlife, and so it’s important to make sure that the species you plant are native to your area. That way, you’ll know that your wisteria won’t crowd out native flowers and other plants.
Wisteria plants can generally be classified as either North American or Asian and although both varieties are now found on both continents, growing the species that are native to your continent will provide better support for other species in your region.
Native Wisteria Species in the United States
American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) and Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya) are both native to the United States.
American wisteria is known for its shiny, dark-green leaves and lilac or purple-blue flowers, which have a lighter fragrance than the Asian varieties. It’s part-shrub, part-vine, with thick, climbing stems.
Kentucky wisteria is the fastest-blooming variety of wisteria and has mildly fragrant, purple-blue flowers. Although it is a unique species, it’s sometimes considered a variety of American wisteria because it is so similar.
Invasive Wisteria Species in the United States
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) are regularly sold at American garden centers, but should not be planted in the United States.
Chinese wisteria and Japanese wisteria are both very fragrant and very fast-growing. Lavender, pink, and white, these plants are beautiful, but they can also out-compete species in an American foreign ecosystem to the degree that they choke out entire forests, replacing them with thickets of pure wisteria.
Not a Balcony Plant
Considering the needs of wisteria and the way that it tends to grow, wisteria is not an ideal choice of balcony plant. It’d be unlikely to do well, and if it did, it could do serious damage to the balcony or even to the house. However, balcony gardening is a very realistic goal, and there are many plants that do well in that setting.
What Wisteria Needs to Grow
Wisteria grows best rooted in healthy, moist soil, and either against a sturdy wall with extra reinforcements or grown away from any structures as ground cover. Wisteria can also grow as a shrub or a tree in some cases, depending on the species and the environment it’s grown in. In every case, the plant has very thick, woody vines, and is not delicate.
Because wisteria is a vining plant that can become very heavy, it’s important to have heavy support in place for the plant to grab on to as it climbs. If wisteria is planted against a wall, it’s recommended to brace the wall with galvanized wires to protect the structure from damage or collapse.
Overhead structures like pergolas are unlikely to be strong enough to support wisteria, especially as the plant matures. It’s important to consider the long term needs of wisteria plants before planting them, as they are very difficult to move once they’ve grown onto a surface.
Wisteria plants require a lot of food and water, and cannot grow well long term in a pot or planter. The plant needs to be firmly rooted in fertile soil and be allowed a large area to grow. Because wisteria cannot be healthily grown in a planter, it is unlikely to do well as a balcony plant.
Gardening on Your Balcony
Gardening on your balcony requires plants that do well in small spaces and will not pose a physical threat to the structure of your home. Ideally, these would be planters and pot plants that keep your space tidy and simple. There are many plants that do well in these conditions, including flowers and vines that resemble wisteria.
The right plants for your balcony will depend upon the amount of sunshine and rain that you receive, as well as outdoor temperature.
Flowers and Plants to Grow on Your Balcony
- Lemon balm
- New Guinea Impatiens
- Sweet Alyssum
- Polka dot plant
- Ornamental Grasses
READ ALSO: 8 Best Flowers for a Small Balcony
For those who love wisteria flowers, lavender may be an especially good substitution. Lavender plants grow many pretty, purple, fragrant blossoms, and are very durable. The plants are very lush and can also be dried for use in sweet-smelling sachets or baking.
You can watch this video for tips on how to grow lavender properly:
Fruits and Vegetables to Grow on Your Balcony
- Summer squash
- Sweet Potato
For those who love the vining effect of wisteria, the sweet potato vine could be a great choice. The light and dark green, burgundy, and pink leaves spill over the edges of hanging baskets and pots and need lots of room to spread out. The sweet potato vine also produces beautiful purple flowers and does very well in the summer heat.
Caring for Balcony Plants
One benefit of balcony gardening is that you can protect your plants from cold winter temperatures if necessary by transporting them indoors temporarily. Be sure to continue providing adequate sunlight for your plants if you choose this route, and consider a grow light if indoor sunlight is not easily accessible.
Plants that are grown in planters require careful attention to water drainage, as it’s very easy for the plant to drown in its container, especially after a heavy rain. Drainage holes in the bottom of a pot or planter work well, although some gardeners choose to place stones at the bottom of the planter instead.
Keeping the soil healthy is also very important for potted plants, and so applying compost or fertilizer can help plants stay well-nourished and grow well in a balcony garden. Be sure to note what kind of soil works best for the particular plants that you’d like to purchase, as needs vary.
Wisteria does not make an ideal balcony plant, but can be appreciated for its beauty and safely planted as ground cover or alongside sturdy structures that can bear its weight and allow space for it to grow. Additionally, there are many plants that do make for great balcony gardens, including a wide variety of beautiful flowers.