Growing Weigela: How To Care For Weigela Planting, Selecting, Pruning

Traditional Weigela is an attractive shrub, producing abundant bell-shaped or trumpet-shaped flowers in the springtime and blossoms sparsely during the early summer.

Although Weigela serves as an old-fashioned sort of deciduous shrub, it will surprise you to know that it went through a great deal of hybridization and cultivation to create numerous varieties of this longtime favorite.

Approximately 10 species of Weigela exist and all of them hail from northern China, Korea, and Japan. From these 10 species a wide variety of cultivars have been developed resulting in various ranges of hardiness and even greater abundance of blooms than provided by the original, traditional plant.

Modern-day Weigela hybrids and cultivars are hardy, fast-growing and very easy to propagate and grow. In fact, it does quite well in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 10.

There’s Something To Suit Any Garden Setting

In the old days, Weigela bloomed only in red. Today, you can find bushes producing blooms in a wide variety of shades of:

  • Lavender
  • Peach
  • White
  • Pink
  • Red

They appear delightful to the eye and provide sustenance for hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Not only blossom colors, but foliage also comes in a wide variety of shades and patterns including:

  • Copper Colored
  • Bright Yellow
  • Nearly Black
  • Chartreuse
  • Variegated
  • Burgundy
  • White

The development of variety in foliage colors extends the productive growing season of Weigela into late autumn. When your shrubs’ blossoms faded and fallen, you can enjoy a lovely show of fall foliage.

Size Matters!

In the old days, if you want to plant Weigela, you need to prepare for your “shrubs” to grow up to 10 feet high and 10 feet wide. Today, you can easily get dwarf cultivars of Weigela.

Not only do these miniature versions need less space, they also do well with lighter care in terms of pruning. If you own a small garden space or even a large container, you may successfully grow a dwarf Weigela.

A Rainbow Of Choices

Some of the new and exciting varieties of this traditional garden favorite include:

Florida Variegata contains pretty green leaves with yellow edges. As the leaves mature, they fade to white making a stunning appearance in a shady garden. The funnel-shaped flowers hold delicate, pale pink petals, and deep pink centers. This is a medium height plant which grows to a maximum of five feet high and wide.

Florida Red Prince belongs to the medium variety. It reaches a maximum height of six feet and can spread to five feet across. Its limbs look graceful and arching. They also feature lovely red blooms.

Briant Rubidor grows up to a maximum of 7′ high. It holds variegated yellow and green foliage while its blooms appear deep burgundy red.

Weigela Florida Ghost appear with striking chartreuse leaves coupled with dark red flowers. This comes from medium height variety growing to a maximum of five feet high and five feet wide.

Polka comes from a medium sized variety reaching a maximum height of five feet. It blooms throughout the summer months and into the early autumn. Its pink flowers contain yellow centers.

Wine and rose makes a very impressive addition to any garden. Its colorful foliage of deep burgundy and its flowers wear a rosy pink color. The wine and rose flowers appear late in the springtime and add color throughout the summer months. This variety with pink flowers grows up to five feet tall.

Eyecatcher hails from a dwarf variety growing only two feet high. It features boldly contrasting variegated foliage and stunning deep red flowers appearing in great abundance late in the springtime.

My Monet is a very small and compact dwarf variety growing only eighteen inches high and spreads only two feet. It bears striking leaves and flowers. The leaves look variegated in shades of white, green and rose while its flowers, a delicate shade of pink.

Sonic Bloom Pearl makes a re-blooming cultivar producing white blossoms abundantly and continuously from early spring, well into the fall. It works great as nice borders or container plants.

On the other hand, the Sonic Bloom Red appears as another re-blooming cultivar with bright red flowers.

Like “Knock-Out Roses”, the re-blooming cultivars of Weigela need no deadheading. The new blossoms simply knock the spent blossoms off when they emerge.

Considerations When To Add Weigela To Your Yard Or Garden

In addition to the size, bloom colors and blooming habits of the plants, keep in mind a number of things when considering adding one of these delightful bushes to your yard or garden.

Deer Resistant - Seldom Severely Damaged

Although no plant can be completely “deer resistant” Rutgers University list Weigela as “seldom severely damaged” by visiting deer. [source]

When choosing a planting spot for this hardy, attractive bush as a shrub border, its best to find a place receiving full sun. Although it can do fairly well with partial shade, a lack of sun will negatively impact flowering. For the full effect of Weigela’s beautiful blossoms, you will want to give it ample sunlight.

Soil conditions also makes an utmost importance. As with most plants, trees, and bushes, a well-drained soil serves as a key to success. Meanwhile, swampy settings and compacted soils retaining moisture can cause root rot.

You want a good, light, nourishing soil which provides good aeration for the roots along with vital nutrients for the plants.

12 Steps To Plant Weigela Successfully

When you choose a good, sunny place with excellent drainage, follow these 12 planting steps for best results.

  1. Water your new shrub thoroughly before removing it from its pot.
  2. Dig a hole as deep as the plant’s root ball is high. The hole should measure at least twice as wide as the root ball. The more spreading space you can provide, the better.
  3. Rough up the bottom and the sides of the hole with your shovel or a hand rake to facilitate better aeration, drainage and water distribution.
  4. Break up any lumps or clumps in the soil you have removed from the hole.
  5. Mix the backfill soil with compost to a ratio of 80% original soil and 20% compost.
  6. Remove your shrub from its container and massage and trim the root ball to help the roots get a good start.
  7. Set the shrub into the planting hole gently and spread its roots to make good contact with the soil.
  8. See to it that the shrub gets planted with the same depth as in the pot. Adjust as needed.
  9. Refill the hole with the soil and compost mixture you have prepared. Ensure the mixture makes good contact with the roots under and around the root ball.
  10. Firm down the soil by hand. Don’t press too hard because you do not want to compact the soil.
  11. Water gently to help the soil settle and fill in as needed.
  12. Mulch around your new bush with two or three inches of organic mulch to help protect the roots, deter weeds and conserve moisture. Leave about three inches of space around the trunk of your bush to avoid problems with rot.
  13. Keep the soil uniformly moist during the first year, until your bush is well-established.

How To Take Care Of Your Weigela

Follow these 6 steps to take good care of your established bush all year long!

  1. Water judiciously. If your area receives an inch of rain in a week, you don’t need to water your established Weigela bush. Otherwise, you should water weekly throughout the current season. One good way to do this is to provide a slow drip of a couple of gallons of water weekly.
  2. You can purchase a slow drip bucket, or you can make one using a clean, inexpensive 5 gallon paint bucket. Simply drill a single hole 1/4 inch in diameter in the bottom of the bucket. Place your watering device 6 inches to 1 foot from the trunk of your bush and allow it to slowly drip the water to the roots.
  3. Late in the winter or early spring, turn the old mulch into the ground with a spade and add a thick layer of organic compost. This should spread all the way to the drip line of the bush surrounding the trunk. A good layer of compost should provide all the nourishment this hardy shrub needs.
  4. You may also wish to provide your bush with a dose of slow release fertilizer specially formulated for flowering shrubs at this time. However, tough and hardy Weigela does not need much fertilizer. Still, a light fertilizing in late spring can help it produce more blossoms.
  5. Keep your compost in place and conserve water by mulching with a two or 3 inch layer of wood chips over the compost. This heavy mulch will help prevent weeds from growing under your bush. Again, do not to allow mulch to come in direct contact with the bark of your shrub as this may contribute to rot.
  6. With your fertilizing and mulching done, you can perform your annual, major pruning. This is the time to remove damaged and dead branches. Take special care to remove those branches rubbing together and those growing toward the center of your bush.
  7. Perform regular light pruning throughout the growing season. Clip off suckers at the base of the bush on a regular basis. Also, deadhead spent flowers (on varieties other than “Sonic Bloom”) to keep your bush looking tidy and encourage more blooms.

Skilled Pruning Yields Beautiful Results

Once you established a good setting and planted your new bush, you want to take good care of it so that it can create the most attractive show in your garden. Good pruning is essential.

Late in the wintertime, you should remove old, damaged branches. Removing older interior branches will help your shrub to produce more blooms in the springtime. It also helps provide light and air to the inner branches for better overall health.

In addition to removing old, damaged, dead branches you should also give your bush a light, overall pruning to help shape it attractively. Keep an eye on the symmetry of your plant throughout the growing season and into the fall and trim regularly as needed.

When should you prune a weigela? What is the best way to go about it? Weigela is a great garden plant that grows in full sun or bright shade. Mark Viette shares in this video his recommendations on pruning a Weigela.

Recommended: Use Hand Pruners & Practice Selective Pruning

Mark recommends using hand pruners like these and being selective in the pruning process, along with pruning long branches and thinning things out about 20%. Watch the video for more…

For your late spring trimming, wait until all of blossoms have faded and your plant has finished blooming completely. If you prune too early, you may negatively impact your plant’s ability to bloom fully next year.

Weigela blooms develop on a one-year old wood. This means, the wood growing now will bloom in the coming year. When you wait until your plant completely finished blooming before you prune, you will enjoy more abundant blooms next year.

You can also control the size of your Weigela with pruning. Begin by determining just how big you want the plant to get. Form a clear mental picture. You may want to make some sketches or take some pictures of bushes matching your mental image.

Trim your shrub to the shape and size you wish, and keep a close eye on it so that you can address any errant limbs growing in opposition to your vision.

Don’t worry about hurting your Weigela with pruning. It is alright to cut branches back by as much as a third of their length every season. This is a good way to control the size of this fast growing shrub.

Always prune at the point where branches meet. Don’t leave unsightly stubs taking out of your bushes.

How Does Trimming Benefit The Health Of The Bush?

Regular trimming helps your Weigela look its best both in terms of symmetry and aesthetics and in terms of overall good health. When you remove old wood periodically, you rejuvenate it. To do this, you would look through your Weigela bush towards the end of winter to locate the oldest, woody branches.

These branches holds a size of an inch and a half thick or more. Trim the old branches out at the base to make room for fresh, young growth. Don’t overdo it, though. If you cut away more than a third of the bush altogether, you could damage it.

Generally speaking, if your shrub showcased a great deal of thick, old growth do your pruning in increments by trimming assiduously each year until you finished attending to all of the old growth. Some exceptions exist to this guideline, though.

For example, if you moved into a property with an old and neglected Weigela bush, you may need to prune it for renovation. In this case, the bush may comprised of almost entirely of thick, old growth. However, they will not bloom well when springtime comes.

You can address this problem by simply cutting the Weigela down. Cut it back all the way to the ground leaving only about four inches of branch stubs above the soil. It will take the plant a year to recover, but when it does, you will enjoy full and abundant blooms.

There’s A Weigela For Every Setting

All-in-all, Weigela makes an excellent choice for any garden. A visit to your local nursery will surely reveal a variety perfect for your setting and your soil. If you are an inexperienced or lackadaisical gardener, you will appreciate the fact that Weigela is subject to very few (if any) pests and/or diseases. It is pretty much a “set it and forget it” addition to your garden yielding a tremendous amount of enjoyment for very little investment of time and effort.

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