I’m buying a brick exterior home that’s painted white. I dream of planting a large wisteria in the front so that the vine can go up the exterior of the house and produce beautiful purple flowers each spring. Can you give me some advice or tell me whether this is even feasible? How best to to it? My house faces west.
Congratulations on the purchase of your new house! Certainly the purple blooms of wisteria will complement your new home’s white exterior.
Wisteria can be grown in numerous ways including in a pot, over a pergola or archway, or climbing up a house provided it has strong supports to do so. It is an aggressive grower and climber, it is hard to remove once established, and it needs pruning twice a year, so choosing the right location is important from the beginning. (As a sidebar, it contains two substances which are poisonous to pets and people, lectin and wisterin, so caution needs to be taken on this front too.)
Wisteria requires a sheltered location, especially given Toronto’s cold winters, and at least 6 hours of sun per day so checking the sun exposure on the west side of your house will be important to do. Especially in the first year, regular watering is required. These articles from Garden Design and Den Garden will provide you with additional specifications, as well as descriptions and photographs of the different cultivars of wisteria to choose from.
It may be tempting to grow wisteria directly on your house, but this is generally discouraged given the damage than it can do to siding, window frames, downspouts, and cracks and crevices. It is strong and heavy! Some gardeners install a strong framework beside their house, or anchored to their house, and train their wisteria to grow around that to achieve the same effect. This article from Rooting for Blooms provides a variety of different options for where and how to grow wisteria.
While it’s the blooms of wisteria that make gardeners want to grow these plants, getting wisteria to bloom can be frustrating. For example, on average it can take 3-5 years for a wisteria plant to bloom initially, and blooming each year after that is not a guarantee. Two additional articles from Rooting for Blooms nicely describes these challenges and how to prune to encourage blooming. If wisteria is growing beside or on your house, consider keeping it from extending to the second storey so you are not needing a tall ladder to prune it.
In deciding which type of wisteria to purchase, Chinese (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese (Wisteria floribunda) cultivars produce gorgeous large blooms but they are aggressive growers and can easily take over homeowners’ gardens. Instead you might consider purchasing the species which is native to North America, American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). It too has beautiful blooms but does not grow as aggressively.
Finally, as you proceed with your wisteria project, please know that the website of Toronto Master Gardeners has the answers to numerous questions about wisteria that other gardeners have asked too. You can access those answers through this link.