Wisteria sinensis – a must have for your English cottage garden

Maybe the name does not ring a bell to you, but I bet you know this amazing beautiful plant. If you’re from the UK and live in a beautiful vintage cottage house you might even have this in your own garden, even though the plant is actually native to China. It is also found in the US but it became an invasive species in some of the areas that mimic the climate of China.

Lovely Wisteria Sinensis during Spring.

Wisteria sinensis is a woody, perennial climbing vine, but it can also be trained into a tree-like shape, with a bit of patience and finesse. It is also in the same family (Fabaceae) with chickpeas (Cicer arietinum), peas (Pisum sativum) and sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), but the main difference is that Wisteria it’s quite toxic to the human body, due to its wisterin content (a type of glycoside).

The plant can grow up to 20-30m long, with shiny green, pinnately (feather-like distribution) leaves which have a length of 10-30 cm and oblong leaflets between 2-6 cm long.

The flowers can be white, violet or blue and they even have a distinctive fragrance that’s similar to that of grapes.  It’s very important to keep in mind that Wisteria only flowers after passed from the juvenile to adult stage and this can take up to 20 years, which is a very long time if you just want to start redecorating your garden. Also, even though Wisteria it’s quite tolerant to shade, it will only flower when exposed to the natural light of the sun.

A close-up with the flowers.

If you still want to smell the beautiful flowers in the Spring, you might want to know that there is an alternative, and you don’t have to wait for 20 years to enjoy it. You can buy a grafted plant, not the seeds, and the plant will be ready to bloom in your garden if you take care of it, in just a couple of years.

Other important factors regarding taking care of Wisteria, is the soil, which should be very moist but well-drained, and also the fact it needs regular pruning (twice a year) in order to keep them under control and encourage pruning.

Wisteria shaped like a tree.

Wisteria is also an amazing gift to celebrate new births and spring birthdays, welcoming someone new in your life, good luck when starting a business and to show your serious devotion to cause or a person.

It is usually associated with March and April and can represent a very beautiful gift as a birth flower for someone born during this months. The purple variation it’s also very nice to have on your wedding day as a ‘something purple’ item to complete the wedding tradition, with a purple twist.