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Wysteria vines can strangle any plants or trees

By By Amelia O’Brian
May 19, 2002
Dear Gardener: I have a question. I have a tree that is little more than trunk. I have always wanted a wisteria vine, but had no place for it. I believe the tree will be a good place, but I read that wisteria is a twining vine, and that all twining vines need something small to twine around. Do I need to put a trellis up on this tree trunk so the wisteria can climb up the trunk? Thank you.
Carrie Leech
Dear Carrie: Wisteria grows by sending out really long shoots that wrap themselves around anything nearby. This can include tree limbs, tree trunks, arbors, or even porch posts. The vines will proceed to strangle anything living. So, usually I would not encourage training a wisteria vine onto a tree.
In this case though, it seems as if your tree might have already seen the best of its days. The vine should wrap itself around the trunk naturally, even readily. If for some reason it does not, you could put up some sort of trellis. I would suggest training the vine around the tree with some type of wire and hooks maybe. You could even insert some type of stob into the trunk so the vine could attach itself to something.
Note: I just want to say again that I do not condone sticking anything into a healthy tree, nor would I recommend setting out a wisteria under a healthy tree.
Dear Gardener: Recently a 3-year-old weeping cherry tree died in our front yard. I am looking for a suitable replacement tree. I would like something a bit unusual. It should be a fairly small tree. Anything too large would dwarf that side of the house. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Reader: There are several types of trees on the market that meet your requirements. One of my first choices would be a variety of Japanese maple. With such an assortment of leaf textures, colors and even shapes to choose from, there is surely one out there perfect for your spot.
If you had your heart set on a flowering tree, I would recommend two in particular a crape myrtle variety by the name of Natchez' and the bottlebrush buckeye.
Both are summer-flowering small trees, although under some conditions, the buckeye may sometimes be considered a shrub. Natchez' is my absolute favorite crape myrtle. The flowers are huge and they hang off long arching branches all summer. The bottlebrush buckeye is a spectacular specimen with white blooms that stand high above its foliage.
Other interesting flowering trees include the star magnolia and the smoke tree.
Star magnolias, Magnolia stellata, are great little trees that are not seen too often in landscapes. They produce a small, but lovely, white blossom early in the spring before the tree leafs out. Smoke trees, cotinus coggygria, are also unusual. Their early summer flowers produce the effect of a cloud of smoke around the tree. They grow best in dry, rocky soil.
There are some good choices for small trees in the market if one is willing to look beyond the ordinary. Good luck in finding a something to fit your needs.