Marjory Blare, Master Gardener
Weigelas are beautiful, deer-resistant, flowering shrubs. There are many lovely varieties to choose. Learn why you should consider this shrub for your garden.
Weigelas (wy-GEE-la) are a hardy shrub that can vary in size from 1.5 feet to 12 feet high, depending on the cultivar. Funnel-form or bell-shaped blossoms can be white, yellow, pale pink, deep-red or maroon. Some varieties bloom only in the spring, some follow-up with a steady supply the rest of the year, some will re-bloom later. Leaves can be dark or light green, variegated or 'purple/bronze'.
Weigela is hardy in zones 4 – 8 and does best in full sun to dappled shade. They are tolerant of most soil conditions, even clay, but they don't do well in soggy conditions.
For planting instructions see: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/planting-shrubs-correctly/
This link has a very good explanation of how to plant container-grown shrubs, but also has a great explanation of why they recommend these procedures. They also tell you how to “root-wash” (my favorite method) container plants, and why this method is recommended. In this age of invasive species, this can be one way to avoid jumping worms. Make sure to dispose of the discarded soil. Be aware that this link is from South Carolina, so, the advice to get a soil test (https://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/ ) is valid, but Dakota County soils are not generally acidic, we do not rarely need to amend the soil with lime.
Fertilize Weigela in the spring just before new growth appears. It may not be necessary to prune at all, (except for winter die-back and any crossed, rubbing, branches), if you've chosen the right cultivar for the available space. Pay special attention to mature plant size and USDA zones when you buy. Some growers “push” the limits of the zones and sizes for the cultivar. Check several different catalogs to see what zones and sizes they list.
Weigelas bloom on “old” wood. That means that next year's flowers will be produced on wood that grew this year. Prune immediately after flowering, if you wait longer, you will remove next year's flowers. Some varieties send up a “horn” that you may want to prune, also. In a dry spring, direct sun can burn the leaves of yellow-leafed varieties. Prune burned growth after new growth has come in. There are two more intensive kinds of pruning that you may want to consider at some point. The first is re-rejuvenation. This would be your choice if the shrub is looking worn-out, overgrown or raggedy. Simply put, you cut all the stems back to about 6”. It will take time to recover and fill in the space, but will have good results. The other is renewal pruning. Each year prune out about 1/3rd of the oldest stems. Both of these techniques will result in renewed vigor and blooming in the future. These methods will work on many other shrubs as well.
Weigelas are a pollinator-friendly, deer-resistant, drought-resistant, reliable addition to your home landscape!
Photo credits: Marjory Blare (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)