1151 Weigela floridaCommon Names: old fashioned weigela, weigela Family: Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle Family)
Old fashioned weigela (wye-GEE-la) is a deciduous, wide spreading shrub that gets 8-10 ft (2.4-3 m) high with long arching shoots that may spread more than the height if not pruned. The leaves are opposite, elliptic to obovate with short petioles and pubescent veins on the undersides. They are toothed on the edges, ending in a pointed tip, and averaging 2-4 in (5-10 cm) in length. The flowers, appearing in late spring and early summer, grow in clusters of 1-4 all along the previous season’s shoots. Individual flowers are funnel shaped, about 1.25 in (3 cm) long, with spreading lobes about 1.5 in (4 cm) across. In the typical species they are dark pink on the outside and pale pink on the inside.
There are more than 170 hybrids and cultivars listed for Weigela florida. Here are just a few: ‘Alba’ has white flowers; ‘Bicolor’ has cream colored flowers that fade to pink; ‘Purpurea’ has dark pink flowers, a compact habit and purple to maroon leaves; ‘Nana Variegata’ is a dwarf form with leaves edged in cream; ‘Versicolor’ has flowers that are red and cream; ‘Biformis’ has two kinds of flowers – large dark pink and smaller pale pink with stripes; ‘Rumba’ has flowers that are red with yellow throats; ‘Van Houttei’ has red flowers with lilac throats; ‘Canary’ has yellow flowers; ‘Eva Rathke’ has crimson flowers; ‘Minuet’ is dwarf, getting no more than 30 in (75 cm) tall and has fragrant flowers. And so on …
Weigela florida is native to Korea, Japan and northeastern China where it grows in thin woods and scrublands.
CultureWeigela flowers are borne on stems from the previous year (not new growth of the current year), so do annual pruning soon after the shrub has flowered. You should cut older shoots to ground level and prune most of the strong shoots to within a few inches of old wood. Some people merely cut the whole plant back to about 18 in (45 cm) every other year. Without pruning the long arching shoots will soon reach the ground and the shrub becomes quite gangly and coarse. Light: Grow weigela in full sun to partial shade. It does best in full sun. Moisture: Weigela likes a moist but well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8. Some of the cultivars are said to be hardy to zone 4. Propagation: Young stem tips taken in spring or summer may be started in moist sand.
Weigelas are cultivated for their very showy displays of rose colored flowers that grow in clusters along the long arching shoots. Old fashioned weigela is easy to grow in any garden soil, and one of the most popular flowering shrubs in many parts of Europe, Asia and North America. It is tolerant of air pollution and often used in cities and around houses as foundation plants. They are especially popular for hedges and as specimen shrubs. Weigelas are useful along open woodland paths. The main blooming period is late spring, but weigelas often bloom again, albeit sparingly, in midsummer and autumn. Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers.
There are about a dozen species of Weigela, all native to Asia. Some of these have been so hybridized, selected and cultivated that their parentage is no longer known with certainty. Many of these gardener created weigelas are listed under W. florida.
Steve Christman 5/28/12