How to Prune Wisteria with Pots & Trowels

The garden can look quite bleak at this time of year, but don’t fear, spring is around the corner! So, it’s a great time to get to work with your last winter pruning tasks before it’s too late, including pruning your wisteria.

Wisteria is a late spring, early summer climber, and offers fabulous displays of colour and texture. With splashes of purple and blue (there are also some white varieties), wisteria brings vibrancy to the garden and, of course, that delicious scent. Wisteria works well to cover pergolas, fences, trellis and even walls. You can control the growth and ensure the plant keeps to the size you want; this is where pruning and training come into their own.

In a recent Pots & Trowels video, Martin Fish shared some expert advice to help guide you and instruct you to prune your wisteria. Keep reading as this article will explain the tools you’ll need and the steps to take to ensure you get the most flowers from your wisteria plant. You can also watch the video below for Martin’s top tips.

How to Prune Wisteria

The aim of winter wisteria pruning is to encourage flowering buds. The best way to do this is to focus on pruning and maintaining the flowering spurs – the short growth on small branches – that host the flower buds. These buds will develop into your stunning flower display later in the season. The more buds you have on the flowering spurs, the more flowers you’ll have. So, let’s look step-by-step at the tasks you’ll need to complete to encourage those flowering buds:

Prune your wisteria in winter to encourage flowering buds


  1. Look for deadwood

Any lingering deadwood stems need to be removed. Snip these off with your secateurs. The Darlac Adjustable Bypass Pruner works well for this task, with a loop handle for greater control and protection and an adjustable function for ease of use.

When removing any deadwood, ensuring a nice clean cut will prevent rot, or deadwood going back into the living wood. This also tidies your flowering spurs. If your flowering spurs are getting congested, you can also undertake some thinning out at this stage.

  1. Look for wispy growth

The winter prune is about tidying up your plant, especially removing new growth that’s appeared after the summer prune. Often, these long wispy branches should have been taken out, but there is still time to do it now. This will help to encourage flowers.

If you were training a young wisteria, you would use these stems and tie them to a wire to create a permanent framework. However, spur pruning these back above a bud will encourage more spurs to develop and new growth next year.

  1. Look out for pods

If you find you have long leaf-type growths hanging on your wisteria, don’t fear. These are pods. Wisteria is a member of the pea and bean family (the legume family), so it’s not unusual to find pods on your plant. These pods (that can often look like runner beans) host seeds inside. These can be used to grow plants, but bear in mind these can take up to fifteen years to grow from seed to producing flowers, and the flowers may not be the same as the parent plant. Most wisteria you see now are grafted. You can leave these pods on your plant, or you can take them off. It’s up to you.

Wisteria is a member of the pea and bean family (the legume family), so it’s not unusual to find pods on your plant

Cutting Back Older Wisteria Wood

When wisteria starts growing up a wall or tall fence, you’re going to need to pull out your ladder to continue your pruning. Always make sure this is anchored at the base to ensure it is secure and safe. It’s easier to climb a ladder rather than reaching or stretching to prune your plant, so it’s important to take a few minutes to plan out your pruning and the tools you’ll need.

Wisteria will grow from old wood, so don’t worry about too much about cutting back some larger branches. Do note, though, that cutting back will mean you’ll lose flowers for a season, but after a year or two you’ll have flowering branches again. New shoots will grow from your cutting back and you’ll have created the shape you want.

When pruning larger branches on an older wisteria, you’ll need a folding saw. The Darlac Sabre Tooth Folding Saw only requires light pressure for a clean cut. When using this tool to trim back large, gnarled growth that could be casting shade on lower bedding plants, be sure to hold the branch as you cut – you don’t want it to snap, you want a clean cut. New growth will then start appearing over the summer.

The Darlac Sabre Tooth Folding Saw is great for working with larger or older wisteria to cut away unwanted growth

Final Wisteria Pruning Advice

Wisteria will benefit from feeding at this time of year. Sulphate potash works the best. Sprinkle a few handfuls by the roots and it will pay dividends, giving you wonderful flowers in the summer season.

Wisteria will also need to be pruned in the summer. This is when the excessive growth that hasn’t been needed will be cut back.

What You Need to Prune Wisteria

To complete any job in the garden, you’ll need tools, but to complete the job as safely and as quickly as possible, you’ll need the right garden tools. Here’s a list of the items you’ll need for pruning wisteria.

  • Secateurs – We recommend the Darlac Adjustable Bypass Pruner. These work well for this task, with a loop handle for greater control and protection and an adjustable function for ease of use
  • A secateur holster – Keep your secateurs handy while you’re in the middle of a prune. The nifty Darlac tool holster will keep your secateurs close at hand and safely secured to your belt. Great for when you need to climb your ladder and prune taller branches
  • A ladder
  • A wheelbarrow or garden waste bin
  • A folding saw – The Darlac Sabre Tooth Folding Saw works on the downwards pull, so it’s easier when working with larger or older wisteria to cut away unwanted growth

Where to Buy Darlac Tools to Prune Wisteria

Having the right garden tool for the job will help to make your wisteria pruning much easier, and much safer, to do. You can find Darlac products in store from your local garden centre. Why not consider a Darlac as a gift for the gardener in your life? Find your local Darlac stockist here.

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