Should Wisteria Be Cut Back Every Fall?

If you have a wisteria, then you know how beautiful it can be. The vines can take over an entire yard, and the flowers are lovely—but what should you do about them in the fall? Should you cut back your wisteria? 

Wisteria should be cut back twice a year, typically during summer and winter. You can cut back your wisteria in the fall if you’ve found the flowers fading out. Otherwise, keep to when the plant is dormant or the flowers have begun to fade in the summer. 

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the importance of cutting back your wisteria. I’ll also talk about why your wisteria is best cut back in the summer and winter. 

Wisteria Should Be Cut Back Twice a Year

Wisteria is one of the most popular vines in the world. It’s beautiful, smells lovely, and makes an excellent shade tree. 

However, pruning wisteria is not easy because its growth habits are unpredictable. You should know that wisteria blooms best when left alone to grow naturally. That said, if you want your plant to grow taller or thicker, you should prune it regularly—and correctly!

Pruning is an essential part of caring for your wisteria. When you prune your plant, you remove any dead or dying stems and branches and any broken or diseased ones. Pruning also helps to control the size of the plant by removing old growth that no longer has any purpose in producing new shoots and flowers. This will keep it from getting too big for its location.

If left unchecked for several years without pruning back dead wood in late winter or early spring (depending on where you live), many types of wisteria will grow into trees up to fifty feet tall (15.24 meters)! This can be quite a sight but may not fit into every landscape design plan. 

So, if you don’t prune your wisteria regularly, it can become overgrown with long trailing vines that eventually touch the ground. This makes your wisteria vulnerable to disease and pests like mealybugs

That said, you can’t prune an old-growth wisteria. If you have a large, mature plant growing for many years, it will be nearly impossible to cut back. 

In such cases, the vine has likely grown in odd places. It will be tough to maneuver around any tool or equipment. That’s why adding pruning to your regular gardening schedule is essential!

For this reason, it’s best to prune your wisteria twice a year. Most people will prune in the summer and winter, so the plant has a chance to get more buds and flowers. When you prune in late winter, you can be assured that the flowers will be ready in the spring

Your Wisteria’s Summer Pruning

A wisteria vine will produce long tendrils capable of reaching up to 30 feet (9.14 meters) high and reaching out as far as 15 feet (4.57 meters) from the plant’s trunk. These tendrils will easily find their way into other plants or structures, such as fences and sheds. These vines tend to grow out of control and can become invasive if not kept under control. Wisteria should be cut back every summer, as it is a climbing vine

The summer pruning is mostly just to get the wisteria under control while it’s still thriving. Watch for its healthy branches and remove any excess leaves that may prevent the rest of your wisteria from growing.

While wisteria flowers bloom in the spring, this isn’t the case for all flowers. If you’re looking for a beautiful flower that blooms in the summer, I suggest planting dianthus in your garden. You can learn more about these flowers in my other article: How Long Does It Take Dianthus To Bloom?

Your Wisteria’s Winter Pruning

When you cut your wisteria back in the winter, you can cut out any dead or diseased parts of the plant, ensuring that only healthy stems remain. You can also prune away any branches that are growing too low or too close together. This will help them take up less space in your garden bed so that they don’t block out light from reaching other plants nearby. 

Wisteria is nearly dormant in the winter, so it’s a good time to cut back any branches that aren’t doing well. Don’t go crazy, though–a hibernating wisteria plant will still be stressed if you do too much to it.  

How to Prune Your Wisteria 

If you’re new to pruning your wisteria, you should know a few things before you get started. 

First, make sure that your wisteria is in good health. If it isn’t, don’t even think about pruning it until you’ve taken care of any issues. Make sure the plant is dormant (not growing) before pruning it. If you’re not sure if it’s dormant or not, look for any dead leaves or brown areas on the plant. These are signs that it’s not growing and will be easier to prune.

Second, be careful not to over-prune your wisteria. You don’t want to cut back too often because it will weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to disease and pests.

Third, ensure that whatever tools you use for pruning are clean and sharp. Dull tools can cause more damage than they prevent!

Finally, remember that pruning is an ongoing process—you’ll need to do some maintenance every year to keep your wisteria healthy and attractive.

When it comes to pruning your wisteria, there are three other things to keep in mind during the process:

  • Make sure you cut off the dead wood. You should remove dead or broken branches completely. This will keep the plant healthy and allow new growth to develop.
  • Cut back to a node (the junction where leaves sprout). This will encourage new shoots in spring when you want them most! Cut the stems by 1/3 to 1/2 of their length, and prune out any dead or diseased shoots.
  • Use sharp pruners to cut off the branches at their base (the part where they meet the trunk). Don’t worry about cutting them too short—you can always cut them down later if they’re longer than you want! Make sure they’re nice and clean so there aren’t any jagged edges sticking out of the trunk when you’re done cutting them off.

This video gives a great visual of the process:

If you have some branches growing in an awkward direction or towards each other instead of towards sunlight, take one branch at a time and trim them back, so they face forward instead of sideways or backward towards another branch on another part of the tree than away. 

Best Tools for Pruning Wisteria

If you decide to prune your wisteria, ensure you have a good pair of pruners, loppers, and shears. These tools will help you gauge the correct length for each branch.

Pruning saws are multipurpose tools that can be used for lopping and pruning larger branches and cutting down small trees. 

  • Hand saws are smaller versions of hand saws but are still very useful when trying to cut through thick branches.
  • Pruning saws, also known as bow saws, come in an assortment of sizes depending on the branch they’re designed to handle.

Regardless, a pair of hand shears or clippers will do well in a pinch if you aren’t looking to invest too much into your pruning plants.


The wisteria can be a beautiful addition to your yard, and you must know how to take care of it. Pruning your plants is easy to keep them healthy and looking their best. It’s best to prune the flowers that need pruning in the summer, while you should look at the branches in the winter. Your wisteria will thrive if you’re being cautious and intentional with your pruning technique! 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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