Tuesday, 04 March 2014 22:03

Cooke's Purple Wisteria History

Written by 

Cooke's Purple Wisteria


Wisteria sinensis 'Cooke's Purple'


Cooke's Purple™ Wisteria is the result of my interest in having a purple blooming selection.

In 1963, Dr. James Miller of Exeter, my optometrist, wanted me to see a seedling wisteria he liked.  Most seedlings do not bloom and home owners become upset with wisteria without bloom.  I was not interested in seeing another wisteria as we had 28 but I was volunteering with Dr. Miller in Boy Scouts, so went as a courtesy.

This Exeter wisteria was a showy vine growing up a utility pole and the guy wire.  I liked it but was not as dark as I was seeking.  I had some grafted and planted in our scion wood orchard in 1966. When we built our home the following year at the back of the orchard, we placed our driveway along the 500 feet of wisteria.  We soon observed it had a very heavy bloom in the spring prior to leafing, but it also had smaller flower spikes all summer.  We have visitors and photographers coming up our driveway during the spring to see the wisteria on the south side and the redbuds on the north.

We now have two rows of Cooke's Purple™ Wisteria along our home driveway with solid 18 inch flowers during late March into early April, and also have small 8"-12" flower racemes from April 15 to September 15.  July and August there is a heavier flower set.   The summer flowers start more as a spur out of the vine but weeps as it elongates.  Where a few other wisterias such as Texas White the L. E. Cooke Co introduced had 3 short summer flowering periods, the Cooke's Purple has color for five months during the summer in addition to the heavy spring bloom before foliage.   First listed in our catalog 1971-72.

Summer Bloom of Cooke's Purple Wisteria

Summer Re-Bloom

Because of its fantastic spring bloom and (at the time unique) summer re-bloom, Cooke's Purple™ Wisteria has become the major seller not only in the southwest where first introduced but now nationwide.  Many nurseries tell me about their success with Cooke's Purple as it blooms the first season before the first leaves.  We often have flowers from the newly budded or grafted vines in our fields.  Some other flowering wisteria varieties require 4 to 5 years before blooming.

Robert Ludekens 2-20-2014

Cooke's Purple™ Wisteria Information Page - Point of Sale Page

More Photos of Cooke's Purple™ Wisteria