Wisteria flower clustersThe house where I was born in is still standing in downtown Bucharest, but there's no wisteria on it anymore. I guess it grew too big for that frail old house to sustain it, so they had to tear it down. I remember what my mom told me about the nice house where we lived during the first three years of my life : very small, but cozy and beautiful, with lovely purple wisteria clusters covering it. Years later, every time we went downtown, we had to go to that street and see our old house. This is why I grew up having a tenderness regarding any wisteria vine I've seen. I've tried several times to plant a stem and have a plant of my own, but without any luck. It can happen even to the best of the green thumbs, you know! Meanwhile, I enjoyed seeing it in the Cismigiu Park in downtown Wisteria Bucharest, where they have lots of wisteria vines climbing on pergolas and even on a huge tree. The sensation of walking through the wisteria vines tunnel is amazing, especially when it's blooming! Full bloom period is in June in Romania, very much like 6a zone kind of weather in the U.S.. But I admire the vines all year long, even during winter, when I think of how beautiful they will be the following spring.

Wisteria is a genus of flowering plant in the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) family, commonly known as the pea, legume or bean family. Its latin name comes from the word "faba" meaning bean. The other name used in the past, Leguminosae comes from the plants' fruits which are also called "legumes". In Romanian, "legume" is the word for all the vegetables' fruits.
Wisteria floribunda vine twining clockwise on a pergola in springWisteria is included in the Faboideae subfamily of the Fabaceae family, next to the peas, beans, sweet peas and soybean - also known as Glycine max.[1] In Romania, wisteria's common name is Glicina , probably coming from the soybean's latin name. "Glykys" means sweet in Greek, and may reffer to the sweetness of one of the Glicine species fruit, Apios americana.[2]
Wisteria is a perennial woody climbing bine (not vine!) A bine is a plant that climbs with its shoots growing in a helix, around a support. Climbing can be counterclockwise, as for the Wisteria sinensis species, native to China; or it can be clockwise, as for the Wisteria floribunda species, native to Japan. The flowers are similar, but the twining makes the difference between the species. A very important detail is that the plant should be allowed to follow its natural twining, otherwise, if forced to twine on the wrong direction, it will spend more energy to uncoil and twine itself the other way around. After learning about the wisteria species' different twining, I've looked closer at the vines in the Cismigiu park and saw that they were clockwise twined, so they must be Wisteria floribunda, also called Japanese wisteria. I had the chance to admire some beautiful Chinese wisterias (Wisteria sinensis) in Bulgaria, in Queen Marie's Gardens, with both white and purple flowers. The purple wisterias were trimmed like bonsai and they looked like pendulous trees. I also saw that their twining was counterclockwise.

Chinese wisteria trimmed like a pendulous tree More wisteria pendulous trees

Chinese wisteria with white flowers White Chinese wisteria cluster

Wisteria's leaves are alternate, pinnate, with 9 to 19 leaflets. The flowers grow in pendulous racemes of different colors like purple, pink, violet or white. Chinese wisteria's flowers are the most fragrant of all species. Seeds are produced in bean-like pods. They can germinate and produce new plants, only it takes many years for the plants growing from seeds to mature.[3]

Wisteria climbed on a pergola with clusters and leaves Chinese wiseria clusters

I've been watching the beautiful wisteria vines growing in the park and have seen how the park gardeners trim them back every spring, so they just cover the pergolas, without invading other spaces. I think they left the one growing on that tree on purpose, so it can be admired in all its splendour, during the full bloom period.

Wisteria in the spring  just blooming Wisteria twined around a pole in the park

Wisteria floribunda growing on a tree in the park Wisteria growing on a pole

Wisteria floribunda clustersI've learned a lot about trimming a vine while walking in the park, on my way to the office each day. I even "stole" a few stems, which I put in water and waited for them to root. No result! The stems just dried out. I've tried planting them in a pot, but still the same result: the stem died in a couple of days. I've also searched for layers, meaning stems which root when laying on the ground. This is what gardeners do when they want to propagate a vine. Often you can dig in part of the stem and water it for a couple of weeks until the roots are formed. Anyway, I had no luck with this either. It's like the gardeners from the park are pulling out every Japanese wisteria blooming in the parklittle stem which might root in there - totally understandable, considering how invasive wisteria vine can be. So, this was another lesson for my future plant: never let layers grow around the mother plant! There are different opinions about the best time to take a wisteria cutting to propagate the plant. Some say late spring - early summer, while others say late winter - late summer. Which period should I choose? Since I have that much experience in watching and learning and since I've already had my share of failure with wisteria cuttings - always taken in early summer or late spring - I think I should try late summer or late winter and see how that goes. I know I could buy a wisteria from the store or from a nursery, but that wouldn't be as exciting as growing a plant from a cutting, now would it?

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabaceae

[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean#Classification

[3] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisteria