Wisteria are strong vines that climb aggressively. The root system of wisteria is equally aggressive beneath the soil. Whether you choose Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) or Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), plant them far from your pipes and sewer system. How big do wisteria roots grow? Are wisteria roots aggressive? Read on for answers to these common questions about wisteria root systems.
How Big Do Wisteria Roots Grow?
When you consider how tall wisteria vines can grow, it just makes sense that the wisteria root system is strong and aggressive. For example, Chinese wisteria can shoot up to 60 feet (18 m.) with stems up to 15 feet (5 m.) in diameter. Both Chinese wisteria and Japanese wisteria are the two most popular types of garden wisteria in the U.S., and both grow and spread aggressively. The wisteria native to the United States is Wisteria frutescens. It grows to 30 feet (9 m.) tall, and the roots are a bit less aggressive than the imports. As a woody plant, however, it still has powerful roots that you don’t want close to your sewer pipes.
Are Wisteria Roots Aggressive?
A wisteria root system digs deep and spreads wide in order to anchor the huge vine. Are wisteria roots aggressive? Yes, the root system of wisteria is very aggressive. Since the wisteria root system is so large and powerful, you should avoid planting wisteria near walls or pathways. The root system of wisteria can easily damage these. Experts recommend that if you locate a wisteria near a structure or walkway, you should insert a corrugated panel some 6 feet (2 m.) long and several feet (1 m.) wide beside the plant to divert the roots.
Wisteria Root Removal
You may be thrilled at how fast your new wisteria grows, throwing up a vigorous vine and developing a powerful wisteria root system. However, if one day you decide to remove the vine, you will be less thrilled. Wisteria root removal can be a big headache. You can perform this manually, mechanically, or with chemicals. However, you will probably have to invest quite a lot of time before you are certain the wisteria root system is completely eliminated. When the wisteria you want to remove climbs up walls or trees, you’ll do your best to cut the trunks. After that, apply herbicide to the cut surfaces. If you want to remove a thicket of wisteria, try applying a foliar herbicide. Other methods applied to a group of wisteria will disturb the soil too much.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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