Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Weigela, is a genus of 11 species of shrubs from the Caprifoliaceae family, along with other species like Honeysuckles, Valerians, Snowberries, and Pincushions. The genus is indigenous to sunny hills, mountains, and/or light woodlands of East Asia, most growing from elevations ranging from 2300 – 5906 feet above sea level.
The first species introduced to the West, W. Florida, naturally growing in North China, Manchuria and Korea, was “discovered” by Robert Fortune and imported to Europe in the 1800s.
This species is still a popular cultivar, although many other varieties of hybrids have since been developed and popularly cultivated after Japan opened up to Westerners, several other well-known species in Japan were also “discovered” by plant-hunting Europeans in the 1850s and 1860s.
The “Florida” part of W. Florida does not refer to the US state of Florida but rather refers to the abundance of the “florid” or “flowery” or “showy” flowers borne by the plant.
These dense deciduous bushes have an average annual growth rate between 12 – 24 inches, with heights of 6–10 feet and 9–12 feet wide. Their sometimes shiny, 2 – 6-inch long oblong-shaped leaves have slightly serrated edges. The leaves vary in color from green, white, yellow, gold, chartreuse, burgundy, deep purple, almost black, or variegated.
The development of variations of foliage colors prolongs the fruitful growing season of the plants too late autumn after flowers fade, leading to a lovely display of foliage during autumn. The varieties with variegated or dark or golden foliage are also nice to cultivate for their particularly attractive leaves.
The bell-shaped, five-lobed flowers are 1 – 2 inches long, grouped in small combs with colors varying from white, pink, lavender, peach, red and yellow. Their fruit contains several tiny winged seeds.
These plants with their vibrant foliage and flowers attract butterflies, and bees along with hummingbirds when the flowering season starts.
The larvae of many moths and butterflies use these plants as food sources. Several of these shrubs, planted in a row, can form an attractive hedge for lovers of privacy in gardens or as standalone specimens.
Weigela Light Requirements
These shrubs love sunlight and are best planted in locations where they can get 8 – 10 hours of daily direct sunlight. If you happen to live in particularly hot summer climates, they could do with a bit of shade or dappled sunlight in the afternoon, but shouldn’t be grown under full shade, as they might not bloom.
These bushes need consistent deep watering when they’re first planted in your garden.
However, once they are mature and established, they rarely need watering as periodic rainfall will meet their watering needs; however, in particularly hot and dry summers, you should water them occasionally, mulching will help deter weeds and preserve moisture.
Leave around 3 inches of space near the trunk to avoid rot.
These easy-going shrubs have no specific humidity requirements. Air humidity levels between 65 – and 75% are sufficient.
The temperature needed during their growth period ranges from 60 – 80°F, while suitable temperatures for flowering range from 65 – 72°F. They are resistant to low temperatures and can overwinter outdoors in northern climate lows of -30°F. They generally don’t tolerate very hot or tropical climates.
Although these shrubs can tolerate different soil types, they will thrive better in a light, nourishing soil mix with a somewhat acidic or alkaline pH that stays moist but also well-draining, with good aeration and containing important nutrients for the plants.
They should be planted somewhere that provides them with room to spread both above grounds as well as below ground without crowding any plants growing nearby or blocked by any barriers like a wall or fence. Soggy or compacted clayey soils that retain moisture can lead to root rot.
Repot these plants either once in 2 – 3 years or when their roots fill the container. They need fresh soil and sufficiently large containers (at least 2 gallons) to provide room for root and foliar growth also, keep the soil loosened with a small rake to promote aeration and faster growth.
To restock nutrients, scrape off a few inches of topsoil and add fresh soil every year in between repotting. Regular pruning can keep these plants to a manageable size for container growth, although dwarf cultivars are more suitable as container plants and require less pruning. Remember, container plants need regular watering.
First, water the shrub well. The new container has to be a little bit deeper and twice larger than the root mass. The more space the roots can spread is better. Prepare a mix by combining potting soil and compost.
Take the shrub from the old container and trim the roots. Gently insert the shrub into the new container, spreading out the roots, add the prepared soil mix and firm down by hand but don’t press down too hard as the soil should not be compacted. Water to settle the soil, adding more soil if needed.
The tiny winged seeds can be used in propagation, although the best way to propagate these plants is from softwood cuttings taken in June.
Take a 6-inch long cutting from a healthy stalk by cutting under a leaf node. Leave 4 leaves near the tip and remove any lower leaves. Dust the end with rooting powder for faster results and insert the cutting into a moist mix of peat and vermiculite or perlite. Water regularly after placing it under shade.
The cutting should form a healthy system of roots in a few weeks. When the new foliage appears, the new plant can be transferred to its permanent home in the garden or a container, usually in spring.
You can fertilize these shrubs with balanced liquid fertilizer or with slow-releasing pellets once every year in spring before new growth emerges on the plant.
Pruning isn’t always necessary since most cultivators prefer the natural form of the bushes. If you want to prune the shrubs, do it just after the flowering season has ended because flowers form on old wood – don’t wait too long before pruning as you might risk removing flower buds, resulting in the shrub not producing flowers for the next season.
Light pruning helps maintain the shrub’s shape but mature, established shrubs also respond nicely to hard pruning after they have overgrown their location – cutting down the stems to ground level will promote new growth.
Weigela Common Problems
While these shrubs are more pest-free than many other shrubs, they can be troubled occasionally by aphids, scale, or spider mites. When you spot an infestation, immediately treat the plants with a natural insecticide or neem oil. Vigorously spraying with water will remove pests from foliage, but you might risk harming the flowers if they’ve just started blooming.