The 12 species of Weigela (wai'-jel-a) include many handsome flowering shrubs for cutting and mid spring colour. The long, arching, deciduous canes are smothered in trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red, white and pink.
This gives rise to the shrub's common names of Fairy Trumpet and Apple Blossom. This popular northern hemisphere shrub is also known as Weigelia (Why-jeel'-ia). Most are woodland natives of northern China and Korea.
Bright pink flowering W. florida is the most widely grown species and one of the largest at 3-4m. Hybrid forms are shorter and more compact. All species are easily kept controlled and tidy through pruning which is best done right after flowering.
Branches can be considerably shortened and a few older canes removed to encourage new growth. Re-growth is rapid so the shrubs will appear full and leafy by mid summer. In early autumn weigela set flower buds on mature wood produced earlier that season.
Late pruning encourages immature, non-flowering growth and may remove the developing buds. Weigelas grow easily in any average to rich, well drained soil that stay moist and will tolerate poor quality or heavy soils. Mulch to maintain the extra water needed over dry summer periods.
They are hardy to wind, exposure, mild drought and full sun. Under such extremes the foliage may burn or drop but the shrubs will bounce back as conditions improve.
They flower best in sunny spots but most gardeners prefer to grow them in part shade to preserve the attractive foliage which is exceptionally beautiful in variegated varieties. Cuttings strike quickly when plunged into a sand/peat mix under shelter and part shade.
Try hardwood cuttings of old wood in winter and semi-mature wood over summer. Weigela makes an excellent screen, hedge, or ornamental planting in the mixed shrub border or lawn.
They are most effective when under-planted with spring annuals, bulbs and perennials. For something different try weigela as a handsome standard topiary, espalier against a wall, or trailed as an arch.