Wisteria Hysteria: Growing and Instagram-Worthy Garden
I’d like to think there’s very little that surprises me on the internet, particularly when it comes to social media hashtags. So I’ll admit that I was truly delighted when I came across #wisteriahysteria while doing some research for another post. Obviously, I had to dig deeper – and was immensely satisfied by the thousands of stunning photographs that the search delivered. Of course, being a gardening blog, I couldn’t not write about this trend, so today I’m going to deliver some wisteria hysteria goodness to you, with some tips on how to embrace it at home.
Wait, what is wisteria hysteria?
Wisteria is a woody climbing vine that blooms with beautiful cascading flowers in shades of purple, pink or white. The plants have native varieties in China, Korea, Japan and the Eastern US, although they’re relatively easy to cultivate and will thrive in most of Europe. Depending on the variety, wisteria is in full bloom either in spring or in mid to late summer.
In case you’re still figuring out the hashtag, #wisteriahysteria is all about people celebrating the beauty of wisteria flowers, and buildings covered with wisteria flowers. It seems there’s a worldwide appreciation for this plant, from the perfectly-pruned streets of Kensington, to annual festivals in California and picnics beneath ancient vines in Japan.
Where can you grow wisteria?
Wisterias have sturdy, branch-like vines that twist up and around whatever support they can find. This means that, with some attention, you can train wisteria to cover almost any structure or follow any path, providing it’s well-supported.
A single wisteria plant typically grows up to 20m high and spread outwards by about 10m – but the largest wisteria in the world is over an acre in length, and weighs approximately 250 tons. It’s in Sierra Madre, California, but is only available for the public to see once a year.
One incredibly important thing to note is that wisteria seeds are poisonous. They contain wisterin, which is toxic to people and animals – causing dizziness, confusion, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea, among some other nasty side effects. Obviously, this hasn’t stopped lots of people enjoying it’s flowers, but you might want to exercise caution (or avoid it altogether) if your garden is enjoyed by curious children or pets.
Wisteria is typically a hardy, fast-growing plant that is quite tolerant of various soil types (but you can learn how to improve your soil quality). Ideally, you should plant it in fertile ground, in an area that gets full sun. Although it’s possible to grow wisteria from seed, it can be 5-15 years for the first bloom to appear, so most gardeners tend to source a rooted cutting or cultivar, taken from a well-flowering plant, to start them on the path to wisteria hysteria.
Training wisteria to climb
Wisteria will naturally climb across nearby structures, so it’s recommended that you plant it close to a tree or sturdy pergola. As it grows, the vines get incredibly thick and heavy, so bear this in mind when you’re choosing a frame for your wisteria. Flimsy trellises or fragile brickwork can easily collapse under the weight of a healthy wisteria – and it’s very difficult to move a wisteria plant once it’s in place.
Getting wisteria to flower
When it’s ready, you should first notice wisteria buds starting at the base of the previous year’s growth. At this point, some gardeners choose to trim back new side shoots, so that the flowers can be more prominent when they bloom. This can also encourage flowers to cluster more closely together in future.
If it gets to the point where you want to limit your wisteria’s size, you can prune side shoots back to 20-40cm long in midsummer, and again to 10-20cm in autumn.
As mentioned, it might be several years before your wisteria vine is mature enough to flower. This depends somewhat on the variety – Kentucky wisteria, for example, tends to bloom significantly sooner than Chinese wisteria varieties. If you’re concerned about your flowers, it might be worth conducting a home soil test to check that your wisteria has enough potassium and phosphate in the soil.
Getting involved with wisteria hysteria
Looking for a reason to paint your front door? As this gorgeous doorway demonstrates, matching your colour scheme to your garden flowers is a very strong look.
If you don’t like the matchy-matchy look, you can show off your wisteria hysteria with contrasting colours. The peachy orange of these doors are the perfect shade to balance the pretty wisteria vines surrounding them.
Not feeling the colour purple? Remember that wisteria comes in shades of pink and white too! This dreamy walkway at Petworth Gardens looks like something from another world, with the pale flowers providing delicate visual balance for the lush greenery.
White wisteria is a wonderful way to soften the clean lines of modern architecture, without looking quite as fairy-tale-perfect as the classic purple varieties. This stunning curtain of white wisteria flowers makes it look like nature is reclaiming the grey masonry and square openings of the building it’s growing across.
Combining different varieties of wisteria can create a stunning blend of colours – as demonstrated by this incredible romantic wall of wisteria.
The wisteria flower tunnel in the Kawachi Fuji Garden in Kitakyushu, Japan, is considered one of the most spectacular wisteria displays in the world – and I see why! This show-stopping piece is created using more than 150 different species of flowering wisteria, and is at its most breath-taking every April.
Here’s one of many, many pictures of the stunning wisteria tree at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, Japan. The tree is the largest wisteria tree in Japan, and has been dated back to around 1870. As of May 2008, it was approximately 1,990 square metres in size.
Okay, I love this tree so much, here’s exactly the same wisteria plant from another angle (sorry, not sorry)! A lot of care and conscientiousness is taken in the maintenance of traditional Japanese gardens, and when you’ll often see trees supported by slings or crutches to keep them upright when they become fragile.
It’s not just Japan that loves wisteria: this beautiful façade is in Rome, Italy. Again, we’re seeing a gorgeous orange colour to complement the flowers, and I just adore the way the vines are framing the doorway but slightly obscuring the windows. I would love to look out through a curtain of wisteria!
Here’s another beautiful wisteria display, this time in what looks like a Spanish-inspired garden. What a gorgeous way to make an outdoor kitchen feel like part of the garden!
I’ve seen this incredibly photogenic Kensington home ALL OVER social media this season – and I totally get it! What an incredible wisteria vine covering the entire front of this whole house. It looks so chic against the crisp monochrome of the paint and railings!
The village of Rye isn’t too far from me, so I may just go for a wander to see if I can spot this gorgeous wisteria adorning this homely white building on a pretty cobbled street.
The Kingston Maurward Gardens are part of an animal park that’s perfect for a day out with the family. If you go at the right time of year, you can see this fantastic wisteria-covered pergola that creates a picture-perfect viewing spot over the pond.
This stunning display of wisteria and pink roses is just perfectly draped over the front of this home… Maybe a little too perfect, in my opinion – I’m pretty certain the flowers are artificial! Still, it looks beautiful.
Talking of improbable wisteria displays… This café window display looks a little too good to be true, and I’m suspecting it’s also made with artificial flowers. However, you could do something very similar to frame a bay window or picture window if you’re lucky enough to have one at home.
Why should the front of your home have all the fun? Spruce up a plan garden wall and gate with some bushy plants and a wisteria vine. Did you know that plants can be used as a security feature? You’re allowed to grow a trellis above the height of your wall – making it harder for would-be intruders to climb in. Take a look at more garden security tips, if you’re interested!
A cosy outdoor setup will make your summer evenings all the more enjoyable. Wisteria is perfect for growing across a pergola or gazebo, and will provide a little bit more shelter as the evening gets cooler. Add a fire pit and a garden cinema screen, and you’ve got yourself a party!
Wisteria vines don’t have to be intricate to look good. This home in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire looks cosy and inviting with just a simple, T-shaped wisteria vine filling the space between its windows and doors.
Looking for romantic garden ideas, or inspiration for a garden party? This wisteria-covered pergola creates a beautiful canopy, and the coordinated table decorations are simple and elegant.
Spall spaces, like balconies, require a bit of creativity when it comes to growing a gorgeous garden. This balcony-scaling wisteria is an excellent example! I wonder if it’s a single townhouse or individual flats? It looks like the neighbours don’t mind, at least!
Plain porches are an ideal canvas for climbing plants. This pale wisteria transforms an otherwise ordinary entrance into a stunning, fairy-tale home. It would be perfect for a cottage garden – you could try roses or honeysuckle, too!
If you love the look of these beautiful gardens (and maybe feel yourself starting to come down with a bout of wisteria hysteria), I strongly recommend you take a look at the #wisteriahysteria tag online, as well as #wisteriawatch and #wisteria wanders – much like the rest of the internet, I can’t get enough of these beautiful flowers! If you have any of your own wisteria inspiration, let us know!