Weigela: Shrub With Spectacular Flowers

Weigela is a beautiful deciduous shrub that comes in a variety of colors, both in its foliage, and flowers. The foliage colors include dark green leaves, bright green leaves, dark purple leaves, and even variegated foliage. 

Some of the most popular weigela flower colors include bright pink flowers, red flowers, and white flowers although they can also produce yellow, purple, orange, rose pink flowers, and magenta blooms. It makes a great addition to any landscape along borders or pathways or as foundation plantings near your home. 

Given proper growing conditions, pink, red, or white weigela blooms create an attractive background for any garden as its green foliage is covered in flowers for the first half of the growing season. Weigela shrubs are virtually carefree and low maintenance, and grow happily in garden ground or in containers. 

However, they require regular pruning. Choose your planting site carefully. These shrubs tolerate partial shade exposure, but if you plant Weigela in an area that receives full sun, you’ll be rewarded with rosy pink flowers from early spring, through late spring, into early summer. 

Once established, growing Weigela is a breeze. There are dwarf varieties that can be grown in containers if you don’t wish to permanently dedicate an area of your landscape to this shrub. One thing is for sure, Weigela blooms create a habitat for pollinators (like hummingbirds) and an eye-catching border or background for your garden whether you choose bright pink flowers or variegated foliage. 

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Quick Care Guide

Weigela flowersWeigela flowers grow in clusters. Source: pstenzel71

Common Name Weigela, Rose weigela
Scientific Name Weigela florida
Family Caprifoliaceae
Height & Spread Standard varieties grow to 10 ft tall, dwarf varieties such as Minuet grow to 3 ft tall
Light Full sun, tolerates light shade
Soil Moist, well-drained soil
Water An inch every 10 days
Pests & Diseases Gray mold, wood rot, aphids

All About Weigela

Weigela is sometimes referred to as rose weigela because its flowers resemble wild roses. Weigela varieties seem endless. Wine Roses is named for its deep red flowers that look like a glass of red wine. Another popular variety, Red Prince, is known for its lipstick red flowers that offer a pop of color against its dark green leaves. 

Weigela florida is in the honeysuckle family. Like many plants in this family, it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Weigela is a perennial that originated in East Asia and grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4-8. 

Weigela florida was named after the German botanist Christian Ehrenfried Weigel. The “florida” species refers not to the state of Florida, but rather to the plentiful flowers that this shrub produces as “florid” means flowery or showy. 

This lovely planting is considered one of the proven winners you’ll find in the nursery. Look for this sign to determine which are the hardiest varieties. Most shops carry Red Prince weigela in containers along with those that grow pink and white flowers in spring. 

Their blooms appear in a garden in spring and summer, sitting atop tall woody stems with stark foliage. When fall arrives, the blooms die back and emerge in the following spring and early summer. 

Weigela is not considered to be toxic to people or pets. It is deer resistant and relatively pest-free. The flowers have an incredible scent described as floral and very sweet. Planting weigela is sure to attract lovely hummingbirds to your garden as well.

Now let’s discuss some tips for growing this shrub.  

Weigela Care

Flower budsFlower buds preparing to open. Source: Gail Frederick

Growing Weigela and weigela care in your garden are easy. When you plant weigela in a location with adequate sun, regular watering, and annual pruning you’ll enjoy the spring bloom of these proven winners for years to come. Here are some tips!

Sun and Temperature

To get the most pink blooms, weigela should be planted in an area that receives full sun, or 6-8 hours of sun per day. It tolerates part shade. Shaded plants may produce fewer flowers. 

Weigela care is similar to that needed for lilac bushes. The plant thrives in zones with a cold winter and temperate summer. Dormancy in winter is needed for the plants to store energy, for the buds to mature, and then bloom in the spring. 

They do best in a garden in zones 4-8. In warmer climates, they don’t receive the chill hours that they need. In colder climates, extreme winter weather conditions can kill the plant. 

In its ideal growing zones there is no protection needed during the winter, although a frost cloth can be used to protect the green foliage or variegated foliage if temperatures dip down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period. 

Water and Humidity

Weigela florida shrubs need regular watering, especially when they are getting established. Keep the roots moist, but not waterlogged in the first few weeks after planting. Once they are established an inch of water every 10 days is all you need. Place a hose at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage when watering. 

Once the foliage drops and the shrub goes dormant in winter watering is no longer necessary. If you plant weigela in full sun, it may need water more often in early summer or late spring as temperatures rise. 

Soil

Variegated weigela foliageSome varieties of weigela have variegated foliage. Source: Ruth and Dave

Growing Weigela florida is best in moist, well-drained soil. However, it is known for its ability to tolerate poor soil conditions. It can survive in sandy, silty, and clay soil types. It even can survive a wide range of ph conditions from acidic (ph 3.6) to neutral (ph 7). 

In fact, this shrub can be propagated via cuttings planted dectly into the sand. More on that later! Fill containers with average garden soil if you choose. 

Fertilizing

There are two good options for fertilizing your Weigela, although it doesn’t need any fertilizer. You can fertilize in the spring after the last frost date, but before measurable new leaves have appeared. A well-balanced granular fertilizing agent applied around the base of the shrub and watered in works best. The second option is to fertilize in late winter using the same method. 

Fertilizing in late winter encourages new growth and pink weigela blooms to appear earlier in the spring rather than in late spring. 

Pruning

Pruning weigela is the most important task when it comes to growing weigela. The overall health of your plant also hinges on this task. It requires annual pruning because of its fast growth rate. Weigela  dies back in the winter which can kill older canes. Remove any old dead or dying wood to make way for spurts of growth in the late winter or early spring. Deadhead the pink flowers after they’ve bloomed in the late spring to get a second flush in the summer. 

Note that Weigela blooms on old wood so only remove wood that is dead or damaged otherwise you run the risk of removing next year’s flower buds. If you’re pruning for overall shaping, then it’s best to prune right after the weigela blooms have finished so that you have a visual reference of the spent blooms, which will indicate the wood that will be producing flowers for next year. 

Weigela Propagation

Weigela florida can be propagated via cuttings. Take a cutting from the green newer growth on a growing weigela rather than from old woody stems in late spring or fall. Place cuttings directly into sand and mist with water once a day. Roots will begin to appear at about 1-2 weeks. Rooting hormone can help speed the process but is not necessary. 

Portions can also be dug up, divided, and replanted in the same way the original shrub was transplanted. After the blooms are spent at the end of the season each spent bloom will produce seed pods. You can harvest these seeds and propagate it this way as well, although this takes much longer, and tiny seedlings need much more care and attention than cuttings. 

Troubleshooting

Fully opened flowersOnce fully opened, the flowers start to curl their petals back. Source: pstenzel71

Weigela florida is a low-maintenance tough and hardy shrub. Growing Weigela is relatively trouble-free, but there are a few potential issues to note. Overall, you’ll find weigela care is easy.  

Weigela Growing Problems

Common growing problems are generally related to the above-mentioned weigela care requirements not being met. A lack of blossoms on the plants, poor growth, foliage yellowing, or leaf browning could be a sign of an environmental issue. A lack of blossoms on the plants and poor growth may indicate that your shrub is not receiving enough sunlight in the garden site. 

Weigela can tolerate light shade but will produce the most stunning blooms when given full sun. Leaf yellowing is generally an indicator that there is a nutrient deficiency, and it may be time to consider adding some fertilizer in the manner mentioned above.

The most common growing problem with new plants is either over or under-watering. Leaf browning can be a sign of these issues. Feel the top few inches of the soil to determine which one is causing the problem. In the case of overwatering, cease watering until the top few inches of the soil are completely dried out, and make sure that your garden soil is well-draining. 

In the case of underwatering, make sure to add your shrub to a watering schedule or timed automatic watering system, especially if your plants experience burnt leaves in late summer. 

Weigela Pests

Aphids are the most common pest issue for Weigela florida shrubs. An aphid infestation that’s allowed to go unchecked increases the threat of aphid-borne viruses. The majority of plant viruses are spread by insects, and if an aphid feeds on an infected plant, it may move on to a healthy plant and then spread the disease further. If you see leaf curling or notice them congregating, that’s a sign it’s time to treat your plant for aphids. 

Some beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings will happily consume aphids, especially if you provide them with good habitat and overwintering sites (as will be provided by your shrub). Still, aphids can multiply at an alarming rate. If you see aphids beginning to appear in the landscape, use a blast of water to knock them off the plant. If they keep popping up then consider a foliar spray of insecticidal soap, neem oil, or prune the most infected leaves and dispose of them entirely.  

Weigela Diseases

Gray mold, which is caused by the fungus botrytis cinerea, appears as a blight. Gray mold affects the flower petals and will appear as brown lesions on each bloom and greatly reduce the amount of attractive flowers. Remove infected plnumberterial and be sure to burn it. Burning is the recommended disposal method to avoid spreading gray mold to healthy plants in your landscape. Make sure to clean your pruners after removing infected wood tips. If the fungus has already progressed past the point of pruning a few blooms, then you may want to consider an application of fungicide containing chlorothalonil.

Fungal diseases such as wood rot fungus only occur on plant material that is already dead or dying. For this reason prune dead wood each year as a preventative measure. It can appear as a fuzzy growth, or mushrooms may appear. There is no cure as it only affects wood that is already dead and dying. Removal of the plant may be necessary. No special disposal method is required as this fungus cannot infect healthy plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fully blooming weigelaWhen fully blooming, weigela is an incredible sight. Source: normanack

Q: Where is the best place to plant a weigela?

A: Weigela care involves giving them full sun. Although they can tolerate partial shade, they may not produce as many flowers.

Q: How big does weigela get?

A: Standard Weigela florida can grow up to 4-5 feet tall. However, there are also dwarf varieties available and varieties that can grow up to 30 feet tall. 

Q: Do you cut back weigela?

A: Yes, prune your shrub annually.

Q: How fast do weigela grow?

A: They have a moderate growth rate and can grow 12-24 inches per year under ideal conditions.

Q: What do you do with weigela in the winter?

A: Weigela will drop its green foliage and go dormant in the winter. No special care is required. 

Q: What can I plant next to weigela?

A: Plant a ground cover around the base to help retain moisture in the soil. This also protects your plant’s roots in late summer when the sun is hot, and in fall and winter when the soil gets cold. 

Q: Do weigela bloom all summer?

A: Yes and no, they will bloom in early to mid-spring. They can be coaxed into a second bloom in the summer by cutting back the spent flowers of the spring bloom. 

Q: Can weigela be divided?

A: Yes, portions can be dug up and divided. 

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