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Weigelia - Care Guide
Weigelia are a genus of deciduous shrubs from East Asia which can be compared to deutzia and many philadelphus in their hardiness, habit, and reliability of flowering in a shrub border or in a woodland garden. As such they are deservedly popular plants and easy to grow. Most flower from late spring on into summer and can be grown in any fertile, well-drained soil either in full sun or in partial shade.
The best mail order seller at Burncoose remains Weigelia florida ‘Variegata’. This is a spreading shrub growing eventually to 6ft or more in height and its plethora of dark pink flowers (white inside) contrast pleasingly with its white marginal grey-green leaves.
Weigelia florida ‘Foliis Purpureis’, contrastingly, has bronze green foliage and is a much slower growing and compact plant achieving only 3ft in maturity. Again the attraction of this form is the contrast between its flower colour and its leaf colour. If you prefer foliage that is even darker in colour then Weigelia florida ‘Alexandra’ is the one for you. It is also aptly named ‘Wine and Roses’. Similarly Weigelia ‘Black and White’ has a superb contrast between its black summer leaves and its white flowers.
By contrast Weigelia middendorfiana has more of a spreading habit and, with us, it has the propensity to produce an odd flower or two out of season. A somewhat straggly plant in a pot it soon develops into a more upright shrub of up to 5ft tall with bell shaped pale yellow flowers in terminal cymes. The flowers on some forms have orange or red throat markings but not, unfortunately, on our stock plant. Weigelia middendorfiana is reputed to be a little tender but we have not found this at Burncoose.
Weigelia ‘Carnaval’ has an even greater peculiarity or set of contrasts between its dark green leaves and its bell shaped flowers in three contrasting colours; white, pink and red. Odd but effective and eye catching in the border. Few other plants produce such a mixture of colours in the same set of flowers.
You can readily improve the flowering performance of your weigelia (as with deutzias) by pruning out the older shoots and wood after flowering to encourage more lush new growth to produce flowers next year. Sometimes you may get a small second crop of flowers in early autumn from this process.
Rooting softwood cuttings of these plants in June or July is relatively straightforward. Semi-ripe growth will root equally well in late summer and it is also possible to root autumn taken hardwood cuttings over winter in the cold frame. Weigelia are promiscuous plants so seeds are a bit of a risk of a mixed result. We do not often see seeds setting on weigelia in our higher rainfall conditions anyway. They prefer to grow more and not bother with wasting energy on setting seed.
An excellent genus for town or city gardens and industrial areas. One of the easiest and most decorative shrubs to grow!