Discard wisteria with the garbage so it doesn't grow in your compost.

How to Dig Up a Wisteria

by Amelia Allonsy

Wisteria (Wisteria spp.) is a classic climbing plant, grown for its drooping purple or pink flowers and woody stems that can cover an arbor or grow on the side of a building. Without frequent pruning, these showy plants can become invasive and show up in unwanted areas of the garden, particularly Chinese wisteria (Wisteria chinensis). Even if you cut the wisteria back to the ground, its roots continue to sprout new growth, so you must dig up the roots to get rid of unwanted wisteria.

Cut the wisteria vines back to the base of the plant, leaving about 12 inches of the main stem protruding from the ground. This will give you something to pull on. Place the cut vines and leaves in a garbage bag or garden waste can for disposal.

Dig a wide circle about 2 to 3 feet out from the main stem, using a spade to cut through the roots as you dig. Remove the soil to create a 6-inch-wide trench so you can access the roots. Set the soil aside. Use lopping shears to sever any roots that are too thick to cut with the spade's blade.

Push a round-point shovel into the trench and under the large root ball. Pull back on the shovel handle and use the leverage to pry the roots loose from the soil. Reposition the shovel at various points around the base of the wisteria. Cut through roots that anchor the root ball to the ground.

Pull the wisteria root ball out of the hole. Shake excess soil away from the roots and discard the roots in the garbage bag or can. You might need to use a pruning saw to cut the root ball into smaller sections.

Pull out any large roots left in the soil. Dig out more of the large roots, if needed, so you can pull them out of the ground. Rake through the soil in the hole to pick out any remaining pieces of root. You don't need to remove every tiny root piece, but you should remove as much as possible.

Fill the hole with the reserved soil from the site. Add more topsoil to fill in the hole, if needed.

Items you will need

  • Lopping shears
  • Garbage bag
  • Spade
  • Round-point shovel
  • Pruning saw
  • Topsoil
  • Mattock
  • Hoe


  • Wisteria plants might still pop up from small root pieces left in the soil. Pull them up as soon as you notice them so they don't develop into mature plants.
  • Mattocks and hoes are also useful digging tools for breaking up hard soil and cutting through roots.
  • Wisterias generally grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Chinese wisteria grows in USDA zones 5 through 8.

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images