Wildly Wonderful Wisteria ~ When to Prune?

Wildly wonderful wisteria can quickly become wild and wicked wisteria. Reader Alicia writes, “when is the best time of year to prune wisteria?”

willowdale-estate-spring-©kim-smith copy

Taming the wisteria (before photo). The first photo shows what the ancient wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) looked like when first I took over the gardens at Willowdale Estate. I removed much of the plant and bent one long trunk over and down, attaching it to a thick bamboo stake, to create the wisteria “arch.” The next photo shows what the wisteria arch looked like by mid-summer that same year.

willowdale-estate-zinnia-patch-©Kim Smith copy

Alicia asks: “Much to my surprise the wisteria is blooming and has never been this late. I really gave up on it and am wondering why? When is the best time to prune it?”

Hi Alicia,

Wisteria throughout our region bloomed later than usual I think becasue spring got off to such a slow start this year.

Wisteria grows beautifully and is easiest to control when pruned biannually, or twice a year; a summer pruning and a winter pruning.

Summer Pruning: Cut the long shoots after the flowers fade to about six inches.

Winter Pruning: In late winter, before the buds begin to swell, prune all the shoots that have since grown after the summer pruning. The shape of the leafless wisteria is more clearly visible and you can easily see the unruly, long shoots at this time of year. Cut the branches to about 3 to 5 buds and over time, these shortened flowering branches will resemble a wisteria “hand.”

photo-1Photo submitted by Alicia Mills


  • No shortage of wrok here I see and the outcome is beautiful you did well! As a young lad I had fun doing the lawns and general labor around Manship estate lanesville with quarry pits on both sides one we swam in with permission and the other was more of a very large pond…:-) Dave & Kim:-)


  • Thanks Dave–I would have loved to have met Paul Manship!


    • Him and Margret his wife were both very nice loved the Pears he grew on the estate and the also his son John…Found this in a quick googel search. brother has the picture of Bear’s by quarry I believe when he went back that way to visit when I was here in South Korea 80’s sometime.

      American, I885-1966
      Group of Bears
      Cast in 1963
      Height, 88 in. (223.5 cm)
      Purchase, Sheila W. and Richard J. Schwartz Fund,
      in honor of Lewis I. Sharp, I989

      For over twenty years Paul Manship’s Group of Bears
      stood outdoors on the sculptor’s estate near Gloucester,
      Massachusetts. Manship had originally modeled the three
      bears from life in 1932 as individual figures in the round for
      one of the lunettes of the Paul J. Rainey Memorial Gateway
      at the New York Zoological Park (the Bronx Zoo). In 1939
      these figures were regrouped on a self-base to face in one
      direction, the sitting bear on the left, the standing bear in
      the center, and the walking bear on the right, and a reduced
      cast was made. The sculptor returned to this work in I952,
      when he incorporated the three bears in his design for the
      William Church Osborn Memorial Playground Gateway in
      New York’s Central Park. Manship’s life-size Group of Bears
      in the Museum’s collection was cast for the artist in 1963 at
      the Artistica Battaglia & Company Foundry, Milan, Italy.
      This monumental composition is characteristic of the sculptor’s
      highly personal style, which evolved from his study of
      the art of preclassical Greece, early medieval Europe, and
      the Far East.

      Although Manship is better known for his mythological
      subjects, such as the gilded Prometheus Fountain in New
      York’s Rockefeller Center, he was an accomplished animalier,
      having been trained early in his career in the basic principles
      of anatomy by the sculptor Solon H. Borglum. Like many of
      Manship’s animal sculptures, Group of Bears is simplified in
      form; the roundness of this particular subject is delightfully
      exaggerated, with only the necessary delineation of detail to
      capture the nature of the ursine personality.
      In addition to this heroic outdoor sculpture, the Museum
      received Manship’s small 1930 bronze Bellerophon and
      Pegasus (1988.416) as the gift of Thelma Williams Gill to the
      collection of twentieth-century art.
      ProvenanceT: he artist’s home and studio, Lanesville Near Gloucester,

      Massachusetts, until I987.Ex coll.: The artist until 1966; John Manship (his son) until 1987;
      [Graham Gallery, New York, I987-89].
      BibliographyT: he Animali n SculptureA: mericana nd European
      Igth and 20th Century (exhib. cat.), New York, Graham Gallery,
      1987, front and back cover (illus.), pp. 62-63, 84.
      Related references: Edwin Murtha, Paul Manship, New York, 1957;
      Paul Manship: Changing Taste in America (exhib. cat.), May I9-
      August I8, 1985, Saint Paul, Minnesota Museum of Art, p. 82;
      M. Gayle and M. Cohen, The Art Commission and the Municipal
      Art Society Guide to Manhattan’s Outdoor Sculpture, New York,
      I988, p. 228.


  • Thanks Dave for posting all this great info on Paul Manship!!!

    Did you mean that your brother has a photo of the bears by the quarry?


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