Weigela bushes are old-time landscape favorites, albeit a tier or two below more recognizable plants like lilacs, azaleas, and rhododendrons. While these shrubs (which are members of the honeysuckle family) took a back seat for a while in popularity, new weigela cultivars fueled a well-deserved comeback, making them a popular choice in ornamental landscaping.
Native to Asia, weigela bushes are dense shrubs that grow at a decent pace, often adding between 13 inches and 24 inches of height a year. They're best planted in early spring or late fall, and feature vibrant green foliage and petite flowers, which can attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden when they bloom in early summer. The most popular cultivar is Weigela florida, though many different varietals exist.
|Botanical Name||Weigela florida|
|Common Name||Weigela bush, weigela|
|Plant Type||Deciduous shrub|
|Mature Size||6–10 ft. tall, 9–12 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Bloom Time||Spring, early summer|
|Hardiness Zones||4–8 (USDA)|
The weigela part of this plant's botanical name comes from a German scientist named Christian Ehrenfried Weigel. The florida part is not a reference to the state of Florida—rather, it pertains to the large number of flowers that the plant bears (as in the word, "florid," which can mean "flowery" or "showy").
The plant itself is relatively easy to care for and will reward you with light pink blooms (which could also be red or white, depending on the cultivar) in late spring and early summer. These bushes make good foundation plants and can serve as specimens in late spring while they are in bloom. The types with variegated foliage, dark leaves, or golden leaves are the best specimens since their leaves make them attractive throughout the spring and summer (as opposed to only when they are in flower).
Wildlife enthusiasts, take note: In addition to being effective at attracting hummingbirds, weigela bushes also attract butterflies. Meanwhile, lovers of privacy may wish to plant several of these shrubs in a row to form a hedge for summertime privacy in the landscape.
Weigela bushes love sunlight and should be planted somewhere in your landscape that boasts at least eight to ten hours of direct light per day. If you live in an especially hot summer climate, your plant can probably handle a bit of afternoon shade or dappled light, but it should never be grown in full (or even partial) shade, as it can fail to bloom.
Though your weigela bush can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, it will thrive best in a mixture that is moist but well-draining. Plant your weigela bush somewhere that can accommodate its eventual growth, making sure it has room to spread out both over and below the surface of the soil without crowding nearby plants or running into any barriers (like a shed or rock wall).
In addition, your weigela bush will perform best in a soil mixture that is mildly acidic or alkaline, with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.5.
Weigela bushes will need consistent deep waterings as they're getting established in your landscape. However, once that happens, it's rare that you'll actually have to water the plant. Once mature, they can typically acquire all the water they need from periodic rainfall. However, if you are experiencing a particularly hot or dry summer, you should consider manually watering the plant occasionally.
Temperature and Humidity
Beyond needing to wait until the risk of frost has passed to initially plant your weigela bush, the plant requires no special temperature conditions and will thrive just fine in the range of climates encompassed by its USDA hardiness zone specifications. Additionally, the easy-going plant has no specific humidity needs.
For best results, fertilize your weigela bush once a year in the spring, right before new growth appears on the plant. You can use a balanced liquid fertilizer to do so or opt for slow-release pellets.
The old-fashioned weigela bush was grown just for its blossoms, which are numerous and attract hummingbirds. But new cultivars offer interesting choices for foliage, too. They include:
- W. Variegata: A small-scale varietal, it features variegated leaves.
- W. Alexandra: Also known as "wine and roses," this varietal of the weigela bush features fuschia flowers with deep, burgundy-purple foliage.
- W. MonRigney: Typically referred to as the "golden jackpot" bush, this varietal features deep pinks flowers and vibrant lime-colored foliage that can sometimes skew golden.
Most growers like the natural form weigela bushes assume, so pruning is not always necessary. If you do choose to prune, do so just after the bush has flowered for the season. That's because these shrubs bloom on old wood, which means the longer you wait after the flowering period is over to prune, the greater the risk that you are removing flower buds, thereby depriving yourself of flowers for next year.
Common Pests and Diseases
While weigela bushes stay pest-free more than are many other landscape shrubs, they can occasionally be bothered by aphids, spider mites, or scale insects. When an infestation is spotted, treat the plant immediately using a natural insecticide or horticultural oil like neem oil. You can also spray the plant vigorously with water to remove the pests from the foliage, but know you may risk harming the blooms on the plant if they've just erupted.