Plant Spotlight On: Weigela

Weigela (Weigela sp.) comes in a wide-range of sizes and grows from 18 inches to 10 feet X 24 inches to 12 feet. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the weigela’s trumpet shaped flowers, which makes it a fantastic shrub for pollinator or birding gardens. Weigela is dense with coarse branching limbs that are very showy when in bloom. Modern day hybridizations have changed the common weigela from 20 years ago, adding extensive flower color selection, interesting foliage variegation, and broad range in size from the very small groundcover to the large bush. This has led to weigela being an extremely high impact shrub as well as a versatile summer bloomer that is an admirable addition to shrub borders and hedges as a foliage feature.

As true butterfly and hummingbird shrubs, weigela make tremendous centerpieces in a summer perennial garden built to attract pollinators. It can be planted as a hedge or summer screen, but will lose its leaf in the winter. Barberry and hydrangea make good companion shrubs. Weigela is remarkably disease resistant when planted in full sun; crowding the shrub or planting it in shade can sometimes lead to fungal issues.

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When, Where, and How to Plant

Most weigela prefers a well-drained soil in full sun in zones 4 through 8. Although it does not like standing in water, weigela does like a consistent medium moisture and a rich, humus-y soil with lots of natural items mixed in; rotted manure, compost, and worm castings make perfect soil amendments. Dig a hole the same depth of the root ball, but 2 times as wide. Plant the top of the root ball so that it is level with the ground. Be sure to give the shrub a lot of air circulation to help prevent fungal issues.

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Growing Tips

Mulch the soil with a 2 to 3-inch layer of compost or organic matter. Supplemental water is recommended during heat and drought. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer before new growth occurs in the spring only if the plant shows signs of undernourishment. Too much fertilizer can encourage less bloom. Dead branches can be cut out of the weigela anytime. Pruning the entire bush too soon in the season can limit flowers and show. Trim weigela bushes just as the flowers are fading, typically mid-summer. Branches are stiff and leafy, so can be cut as rather attractive additions to flower arrangements.

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