Tuesday, December 20, 2011


'Autumn Joy' sedum and an unnamed sport of a variegated weigela in my garden. This weigela has an insipid very pale pink flower (paler than a typical variegated weigela), but for me nothing compares with its well-marked cream, dark green, and lime green foliage on red stems. It tries to revert to some sort of limey-green leaved variety every so often so pruning out this growth is important and has kept its size limited to about the size of a well-grown sedum.

There seems to be a lot of variation in the coloring of the variegated leaves of these weigela, all of which are the same cultivar, 'Magical Fantasy'. These next two pictures also show the 'Magical Fantasy' weigela.I took these pictures at Stein's the beginning of August this last year.

This is weigela 'Carnaval' in my yard. It has red buds that open to white and fade to a medium pink rose color, giving the impression that it blooms in all three colors. It has sort of medium green leaves and a more sprawling form if not pruned carefully. It's redeeming feature? It does bloom twice most years, once in June alongside roses, and then later in the fall. This double blooming also makes 'Carnaval the most difficult to prune, as weigelas bloom on year old wood.

This is 'Shining Sensation'. The leaf really has a rather glossy texture. Compare it to the next picture of 'Wine and Roses' contrasted by the weigela 'My Monet'. They make a good combo.

Weigela 'Wine and Roses' with its dark bloom and leaf are very attractive when well-grown. However, it also seems to be the least hardy here and I find that due to winter dieback, siting this cultivar appropriately and giving it extra winter cover is crucial. I have had several years where it has almost died to the ground resulting in no bloom.

When weigelas are in bloom they can rival roses for sheer impact. I find they are not terribly well known here in central Wisconsin. Deer will eat them, but as long as they do not browse them to the ground, I can only think that a light pruning/browsing will help their form over all. They are not bothered by pests, but can take winter damage and suffer quite dramatic dieback.

Perhaps the best known and most commonly grown here is 'Red Prince' (not pictured). It is also the hardiest and suffers little winter dieback. 'Red Prince is a large sprawling shrub with cardinal red trumpet-shaped blooms with indifferent green foliage.

Weigelas need well-drained soil, and full sun if possible, or they tend to get leggy and sprawling and bloom less. They can withstand some drought. Regular light pruning for shape should be done immediately after flowering. Also regular rejuvenation by removing the oldest canes should be done as well. Weigelas look best if kept smaller than three feet tall and wide, and canes are less than 1/2" in diameter.

A weigela is definitely a shrub to include for its "shining" moment in a shrub border, just be careful to not make it a focal point, or any given year you may be disappointed. When it delivers, however, you will be delighted.

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