Purple Flowered Wisteria Vines
wisteria 1
(Image credit: Wako Megumi)

Don't let those beautiful, sweet-smelling blooms fool you. In spite of its beauty and fragrance, wisteria is a fast-growing vine that can quickly take over plants (including trees) as well as any buildings (like your home) if given the chance. For this reason, wisteria must be kept under control with regular pruning; otherwise, your only option may be getting rid of your wisteria altogether.

How to Control Wisteria

Unless you know how to control wisteria, this vine can quickly and easily choke out surrounding plants and other structures within its path. Learning how to cut back wisteria isn't difficult but may be a time-consuming chore. Nonetheless, vigorous pruning is about the only way to keep wisteria under control. You should lightly prune wisteria on a regular basis throughout summer to remove any unruly shoots as well as any new ones that may pop up. Wisteria should also be given extensive pruning in late fall or winter. First, remove any dead or dying branches and then cut backside branches about a foot (0.5 m.) from the main trunk. Look for and remove any suckers that may also be present near the base.

How Do You Kill Wisteria?

So how do you kill wisteria once it's gotten out of control? Getting rid of wisteria can be tricky but there are some things you can try. You could start by hand pulling or digging up any young sprouts. Cut the wisteria to the ground to prevent it from resprouting. Be sure to bag up and dispose of all wisteria branches (and seed pods) to eliminate the chance of new sprouts popping up somewhere else. Then, use a specially formulated herbicide such as a non-selective type, for getting rid of wisteria for good. Paint or apply the herbicide directly to the stump. If, over time, you notice any new sprouts, you may want to re-treat them. Only spray the foliage as a last resort to ensure the safety of other nearby plants. Alternatively, some people choose to place the leaves or as much of the vine tip as possible in herbicide solution for about 48 hours before cutting and removing the wisteria vine. Keep in mind that while most herbicides are designated for particular plants without harming surrounding areas, you should always use caution when using them. Follow directions carefully for the proper application. Herbicides for getting rid of wisteria are best used in late summer or fall. However, winter is probably the easiest time for wisteria removal. As long as you know how to control wisteria with regular pruning, you shouldn't have too many problems. However, if your wisteria has become overgrown or if you simply don't want it, then getting rid of wisteria may be your only alternative, cutting it down and soaking what's left in a suitable herbicide. Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.