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Wisteria Vs Lilac – Same Same But Different?

There are so many purple flowering plants that it is hard to keep count. Two quite popular ones are the wisteria and lilac. You probably have already seen them in your neighborhood. At first glance, however, it is very easy to mistake the two. 

They look quite similar so anyone who is not super well-versed in botany can get them mixed up. If you want to differentiate them the next time you go out (as well as boast to your friends that you can), use our article’s Wisteria vs Lilac content.

We will go through each plant, then dig into their similarities and differences. Join us! 

An Overview Of The Wisteria & Lilac

1. Wisteria 

Wisteria is a spectacular-looking flowering plant with purple and blue flowers. It is a part of the Fabaceae family with ten other twining vine “brothers” and “sisters” from Southern Canada, Korea, Japan, China, etc. 

Usually, you will see them in early Summer and Spring hanging from a balcony or pergola. Here is a photo to help you visualize: 

Wisteria Wisteria Vs Lilac
Wisteria via Pixabay

2. Lilac 

Lilac is also a purple-colored flowering plant. It is in a family with 12 other species and is considered a woody plant. The lilac is especially fragrant. Hence, you may have seen household products and beauty products with lilac scents. 

This pretty flowering plant came from Eastern Europe and Asia, but when it was brought to the U.S, it also quickly became popular. 

Here is something to help you picture the plant: 

Lilac Wisteria Vs Lilac
Lilac via Wikimedia

The Similarities Between Wisteria & Lilac

There are actually not a lot of similarities between the two plants aside from their need for sunlight, disease resistance, color, and shape. Let’s look at each now in detail! 

1. Need of Sunlight 

As the heading implies, both the wisteria and the lilac need generous amounts of sunlight in order to grow and bloom well. In fact, they need several hours of direct sunlight to not stunt or wither. 

2. Disease Resistance 

Both the wisteria and the lilac are considered disease-resistant plants. They have little to no chances of becoming “infected” by fungi or pests. However, it is still a good idea to take care of them by spraying fungicide and pesticide once a year. 

Note: Try not to spray them during their flowering period, though. 

3. Color 

This is the most noticeable similarity between the two plants. Case in point: They are both purple with a tint of blue. This is speaking in the general scheme, where only the seven colors of the rainbow are considered. 

However, we will later discuss the specific color range of each plant, where there are more subtle differences. 

4. Shape 

Both plants’ overall shape and outline are the same. They look like a corn-shaped cluster of petals. They are also somewhat comparable to a “skinny” football (the American one). 

If you cannot imaging the shape yet, take a look at these photos: 

The Differences Between Wisteria & Lilac

Now that we have looked at the similarities, let’s dig into the differences. We will consider both plants’ growth habits, foliage and flower characteristics, blooming period, color range, and toxicity to pets. 

1. Growth Habits 

The wisteria climbs upward. Hence, it needs a place to climb on. Since it doesn’t have a central trunk and only multiple thin trunks, it cannot hold its own weight when going up. Thus, its vining growth needs strong support as a foundation. 

On the other hand, the lilac grows more like a shrub. Even though it also lacks a central trunk, its multiple trucks are thick and strong. It can grow well on its own without a separate support. You can even get a classic bush shape with lilacs. 

2. Foliage & Flower Characteristics 

Wisteria leaves are thin but leafy shoots connected to the main branches. They come in pairs and together form a distinct ribbed pattern that looks a lot like fern leaves. The leaves themselves are pointed on the sides and elongated. 

The leaf shoots are green or dark green, with a bit of weight that causes them to bend or droop down, like: 

Wisteria Leaves Wisteria Vs Lilac
Wisteria Leaves via pxhere

This occurrence is sometimes also referred to as the weeping effect. Thanks to this effect, wisterias can be used for lush hedges. 

Unlike wisterias, lilacs do not have leaf shoots or branches that weigh it to hang or droop down. Instead, lilacs have leaves attached to thick branches that are directed upwards. There is usually no foliage at the lower parts of the plants. 

Lilac Leaves Wisteria Vs Lilac
Lilac Leaves via Pxhere

Wisterias’ flowers are larger than lilacs’, so their flowerings are more apparent and pronounced. But lilacs consist of more flowers in their inflorescences, making them look lusher and denser. 

Speaking of inflorescences, the plants’ grow in opposing directions. The wisteria inflorescence grows downward, while the lilac inflorescences grows upward. 

The former’s inflorescences are long and sharp. But the latter ones are rather short and plump. 

3. Blooming Period 

Generally, wisterias bloom for a longer time than lilacs. The latter typically bloom for two weeks, while the former can stay around for three to four weeks. 

Note: The specific time frame still varies from variant to variant. 

Both plants can re-bloom, but lilacs are less likely to compared to wisterias. 

Wisterias bloom in Spring and early Summer, whereas lilacs bloom in late Spring and early Summer. 

Another difference is that wisterias may not bloom for many years after planting, but the lilac will bloom the year after it is planted. 

4. Color Range  

Wisterias have a smaller range of color than lilacs. Wisterias are only blue and/or purple-blue. On the contrary, lilacs are not only purple, but also pink, purple plus pink, red, white, and light yellow. As a result, there is more to choose from if you are working with lilacs. 

Here is a photo of white lilacs:

White Lilac Wisteria Vs Lilac
White Lilac via Pixabay

Here is a photo of purple lilacs:

Purple Lilac Wisteria Vs Lilac
Purple Lilac via hippopx

5. Toxicity to Pets 

Wisterias are not pet-friendly. If consumed, they can be poisonous. The seeds of wisterias are particularly toxic, but the flowers and leaves can also be harmful if taken in large quantities. Hence, if you have pets, you might want to reconsider planting wisterias. 

Unlike wisterias, lilacs are not toxic to pets. They are safe to plant in the garden even if you have many curious pets that cannot stay away from pretty flowers. 

Wisteria Vs Lilac: Which Suits You Better? 

Since you are now equipped with all the information you need on both plants, it should be easier to decide which suits you better. First, consider why you need to choose between the two. Are you buying it for/as a bouquet? Do you want to plant it in your garden? 

Both flowers can be put into a bouquet. Here are two photos to help you picture what they look like: 

You can choose one of the two depending on the space you have to place the plants and the atmosphere you want to create. 

You may also make a decision based on the color scheme; if you are choosing for an event, for instance. For a wider range of color, go for lilacs. 

And here are two photos of the flowers in a garden: 

Wisteria Garden Wisteria Vs Lilac
Wisteria-Covered Pergola, Fort Worth Botanical Garden via Flickr
Lilac Garden Wisteria Vs Lilac
Lilac Garden via torange

If you are contemplating between the two for your garden and you own pets, we suggest going for lilacs because they do not pose risks for your beloved buddies. 

But if you want a lush hedge in your backyard and do not have any pets to worry about, then wisterias are preferable. 

If you do go with wisterias, do not forget that you need to provide them a strong enough framework or foundation. If you know you cannot, then lilacs are better. 

In case you are hosting an event outdoors and need the flowers for a designated amount of time, remember that wisterias can last for a longer time, but they may not bloom for a few years after you plant them. 

If you need the flowers, perhaps for a backdrop, for more than two weeks, opt for the wisterias. However, if you need them as soon as possible after planting, your safer bet is the lilacs. 

Ultimately, the better flower is the one that suits your needs and wants. So never stray from that consideration! 


Now that you are armed with all the information you need, you should be able to make an informed decision. Wisteria vs Lilac, which one did you select? Let us know in the comments.

Do not forget to share photos of them too. Needless to say, not only us but other readers would love to see your pretty flowers photos! 

If you still have questions or thoughts you would like to ask or add, please reach out to us below. We would appreciate it so much! Don’t forget to share this with other readers as well.