There is limited colour choice within the Wisteria Varieties. But there are enough differences between the type to make investigation worthwhile.
The original species types of wisteria, came from Japan, Korea, China, together with Central and Southern USA. They have been hybridised to give us the gorgeous garden wisterias that we now cherish.
Colours. - As well as the various blue wisterias, there are several types of white, lilac, pink mauve and purple lilac, and rich pink wisterias available.
The main choices for these deciduous climbing shrubs, is between cultivars and varieties of Wisteria brachybotrys - The Silky Wisteria; Wisteria floribunda - which is the general choice of Japanese Wisterias; Wisteria x formosa - A cross between W. floribunda and W. sinensis - (W. sinensis is sometimes referred to as Wisteria chinensis.
Whichever name you prefer, these are the Chinese Wisterias. There is a group sometimes called Wisteria venusta - These in fact are truly Wisteria brachybotrys types.
Generally, I have found the flowers of the Wisteria floribunda group to have the slightly longer lowers - marginally over Wisteria sinensis. Much depends upon the individual cultivation! Not enough to split hairs! Individual varieties buck the trend. Both types have generally longer flowers than the Silky Wisteria - W. brachybotrys. But, the latter has better seed pods - and somewhat different foliage to the other two groups, being lance-shaped individual leaflets; soft and slightly hairy.
All of the Wisteria types have fragrant flowers - especially in the evening. Wisteria floribunda and Wisteria sinensis types seem to have the best perfume, and it is from Wisteria sinensis that the best aromatic oils originate. as you would expect with the parentage previously mentioned, Wisteria formosa is also richly fragrant. The flowers of these three groups are all in the region of 12in (30 cms) long, BUT some of the varieties within that range, have flowers up to 20in (50cms) long, and the outstanding Wisteria brachybotrys Kyushaku claiming best, with blooms that can reach 3 4 feet (90cm - 1.2m).
There are no evergreen wisterias - at the time of writing Jan 2011. All of the wisterias available are deciduous, and most do us the service of having good autumn colour before losing their leaves. Wisteria floribunda seem to hold on to their autumn colour longer than the others. A rich golden yellow with liberal sprinklings of orange.
The foliage is best if the Wisteria is pruned correctly - in particular the necessary early spring pruning of wisterias will allow plentiful young streams of growths to grow throughout the summer. these are perfect for producing good Autumn colour. You can also read about the care and cultivation of wisterias, which again will do much to enhance both flowers and foliage.
Wisteria sinensis - The Chinese Wisterias . The individual leaflets are elliptical or oval shaped, and make up the pinnate leaves. with around 9 - 15 leaflets per leaf. Dense flowering racemes - around 12in (30cm) long drape the shrub in late spring or early summer.
Wisteria sinensis Alba - has white flowers.
Wisteria sinensis Prolific - Very prolific flowering with pale lilac blue flowers.
Wisteria sinensis Sierra Madre - Fragrant flowers - suffused lavender violet and white centres.
Wisteria floribunda - The Japanese Wisterias. Normally having more leaflets than the Chinese, Silky or Formosa counterparts, with up to 19 lance shaped individual leaflets making up the pinnate leaf form. Flowers normally to 12in (30cm) though some newer hybrids are double that length!
Wisteria floribunda Alba - has white flowers - very
fragrant. The flowers of this can reach 20in (50cm) or more.
Wisteria floribunda Black Dragon (or Royal Purple). Not black as the name suggests, but rich deep purple. Long flowers can reach 20in (50cm).
Wisteria floribunda Rosea ( or Honka). Has delicate pink flowers - sweetly scented - to 18in (45cm) long.
Wisteria floribunda Macrobotrys (or Kyushaku). Lilac blue flowers which can reach 3 ft (90cms) in length. Fragrant as well!
Wisteria brachybotrys - The Silky Wisteria. Lance shaped individual leaflets - being around 13 leaflets to the full leaf. very soft hairy feel. Sometimes called Wisteria venusta and often mixed up with the Wisteria sinensis forms.
Wisteria brachybotrys Alba (or Kapitan) with white flowers -
yellow centrals and sometimes double flowers to 12in (30cm) long.
Wisteria venusta Violacea (or Murasaki Kapitan) Deep violet blue flowers - yellowish centrals - can reach 15in (75cm) Fragrant.
As with many plants - as they start to move up the popularity stakes - there is often confusion with the names. The best way to ensure the Wisteria of your dreams - and don't forget that it will probably be with you for life! - is to buy from a specialist grower, or at least to buy in the Spring when in flower. That way, there is nor mistaking the flower colour at least. The other aspects of the wisteria are more or less academic!
By David Hughes - firstname.lastname@example.org