Weigela 101: How to Grow This Classic Shrub

Written by Hannah Miller. Reviewed and Fact Checked by Elizabeth Smith. Published to Spring Plants. Updated: 20th February 2023.

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Until recently I saw weigela as a somewhat old-fashioned shrub that I would see in classic gardens. However, times have changed, and weigela seems to be making a comeback with more compact varieties proving popular in smaller modern gardens.

Larger varieties still offer plenty of space-filling scope but I’ve been growing the more compact types over the last few years.

Whatever your garden style, I’m sure you’ll find weigela:

  • Produces an abundance of small but showy trumpet flowers from late spring into early summer.
  • Is easy to maintain and requires little effort.
  • Performs well in full sun and partial shade.
  • Offers a secondary bloom later in the year, often in autumn.

Size

Dwarf varieties up to 1m x 1m (3.2′ x 3.2′)

Classic weigela shrubs up to 2.5m x 2.5m (8′ x 8′)

Type

Type

Deciduous shrub – loses its leaves in the winter

Growth icon

Growth

Moderate growth rate of up to 40cm per year but easy to control by yearly pruning. Time to max size: 10+ years

Difficulty

Easy to grow, even for beginners

Native

Native to East Asia

Location

Larger beds and borders

Sunlight

The more sunlight, the more flowers you can expect but it still performs well in dappled shade

Hardiness

US zone 4-8 and hardy in all parts of the UK

Water & Feed

Requires frequent watering until established and putting on growth then only water during dry conditions. Prefers fertile soil so add compost or well-rotted manure yearly 

Companions

Hydrangea, azaleas, iris, rhododendron, peonies, lilac

Planting

Best in autumn in hotter parts of the country, otherwise, plant in spring but keep watered well into summer during the first year

Flowering

Typically May and June but often produces a second, slightly weaker flush of blooms in autumn

Weigela bush
Red weigela flowers closeup

Weigela Growing Guide: My Answers to Common Questions

Below I’ve tried to answer questions you may have about growing weigela.

The answers are just my opinion, based on my experience of growing this shrub in my Surrey garden:

How and When is Weigela Sold?

Weigela is usually sold in spring when the plant is in full bloom. However, I’ve also seen it in garden centres in summer and autumn, as it often produces a second flush of blooms.

Most of the weigelas I’ve seen for sale in garden centres are sold as established shrubs in 2-5 litre tubs.

Where is the best location for weigela?

The weigelas I have growing in full sun produce far more blooms than the ones I have in the partially shaded area of my garden, so if you want to get the most from weigela, grow it in full sun, if possible.

The classic weigela needs some space to grow into, and I’ve seen it thrive in more extensive borders and beds, but my dwarf varieties have performed well in my small garden where space is limited, and I’ve planted them close to other shrubs.

How should the ground be prepared?

I know that weigela prefers fertile soil, so after digging the hole, I added some well-rotted manure and compost just to help get the roots down. 

Does weigela require lots of water or fertiliser?

I’ve found that the best approach with weigelas is to add organic matter to the hole prior to planting and to water regularly for the first month or two just to help the roots get going.

I’ve had good results by adding a yearly mulch to the soil and using slow-release fertiliser a couple of times a year, but beyond this, I’ve found weigelas easy to grow.

How tall and wide will weigela grow?

Compact dwarf varieties like the ones I have don’t put on much growth at all with mine no more than 1m tall.

I have seen some classic weigelas reach up to 3m and become quite bushy.

Should weigela be pruned and if so, how and when?

I always give my weigelas a light prune immediately after flowering in the summer. I usually nip off any weak stems and cut about one-quarter off of the those that remain. So far, the results have been good, and my weigelas have flowered consistently.

Gardeners shouldn’t prune weigela after it has set buds, as this will prevent the shrub from flowering the following year.

Does weigela suffer from any pests and diseases?

In my garden, weigela is a robust shrub, and I’ve never had any issues with slugs, bugs or diseases.

I have seen leaf spot and powdery mildew on weigelas grown elsewhere but I don’t believe it’s a common problem for this shrub.

When does weigela bloom and how long for?

The compact weigelas in my garden flower from late spring into early summer and usually last for several weeks.

I’ve noticed that they sometimes put on a second flush of slightly weaker blooms in the autumn, but if pruned aggressively, this is unlikely to happen.

Can weigela be propagated?

Yes, and I’ve done this a few times with a success rate of about 20%.

I’ve found the best way to create new plants is by softwood stem propagation at any time during the growing season.

Is weigela toxic or harmful to humans and pets?

According to Plant Addicts, no part of weigela is poisonous to humans or pets.

Is weigela beneficial to wildlife?

I often see bees around my weigelas so yes, they are beneficial to wildlife.

1 X Weigela 'RED Prince' DECIDUOUS Shrub Hardy Garden Plant in Pot
Weigela 'All Summer Peach' in a 8/9cm Pot
1 X Weigela 'RED Prince' DECIDUOUS Shrub Hardy Garden Plant in Pot
Weigela 'All Summer Peach' in a 8/9cm Pot
1 X Weigela 'RED Prince' DECIDUOUS Shrub Hardy Garden Plant in Pot
1 X Weigela 'RED Prince' DECIDUOUS Shrub Hardy Garden Plant in Pot
Weigela 'All Summer Peach' in a 8/9cm Pot
Weigela 'All Summer Peach' in a 8/9cm Pot

How to Care For Weigela After It’s Finished Flowering

I’ve never had any issues growing weigela, and in my garden it’s a robust, low-maintenance shrub.

The only area where one needs to pay attention is pruning.

Pruning

Pruning should be completed immediately after flowering, any later than this, and you may inadvertently trim off next year’s buds.

My golden rule is to remove any weak straggly stems and then cut the remainder by no more than one-quarter.

If you have a larger weigela, you could get it under control by pruning it like this over a couple of years rather than hacking it aggressively in one go.

My compact weigelas don’t put on that much growth each year and are easy to prune, if you have a classic variety and want to fill space quickly, just leave it unpruned for a couple of years, I’ve seen them fill voids quickly.

Disease Prevention

After flowering, check for leaf spot and powdery mildew, two of the more common diseases, although I’ve never had an issue with either.

Propagation

I’ve experimented with propagation and had a success rate of 20% by taking softwood stem cuttings in the growing season.

I Think These Are The Best Weigela Varieties

There are dozens of weigelas to choose from, and I’ve grown several over the last decade or so; here are my suggestions based on my experience:

The Best Weigela For Foliage

Weigela florida “Variegata” produces foliage with two colours; the inner part of the leaves are deep green while the outer is a warm cream. I like how the variegated foliage complements the prolific soft pink trumpet blooms. While not a dwarf or compact weigela, this specimen grows up to 2m x 2m and is somewhat constrained compared to other varieties I’ve previously grown.

The Best Compact/Dwarf Weigela

Weigela “all summer” varieties take the top spot here, and you can expect growth of up to 0.75m, making them perfect for containers and smaller gardens. Choose from various colours, including red, peach and pink, and as the name suggests, you’ll be rewarded with a prolonged flowering period. This is the type I’m currently growing.

The Classic Weigela

Weigela “mont blanc” is a classic white cultivar first developed in 1898 and was a standard for several decades. As it’s been superseded by several new varieties, it’s considered a “classic” by most standards. The blooms open white but turn a soft pink with age. Also, consider “white knight”, a more modern equivalent that I see more and more of in garden centres and gardens.

Weigela Companion Plants

I’ve found weigela so versatile that it can be left to grow tall and wide to fill space or pruned to a neat, compact shape.

As such, there are hundreds of suitable companion plants I feel would go well with it.

Consider these shrubs, which I also have experience growing:

Problem Solving: 4 Common Weigela Issues

Despite owning a trouble-free weigela, I’ve done extensive research and here are solutions to problems some other gardeners have reported:

1) Not flowering at all

There are several reasons why weigela may refuse to produce any flowers at all:

  • Incorrect pruning, i.e. pruning at the wrong time and taking off the buds (I only did this once and can confirm it does affect flowering).
  • Powdery mildew overtaking the plant.
  • Grown in full shade.
  • Late spring frosts have damaged all of the buds.

2) Few flowers

This is most likely due to:

  • The shrub is in dappled or partial shade instead of full sun.
  • Aggressive pruning.
  • Late spring frosts have damaged some of the buds.
  • Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer; this promotes leaf and stem growth at the expense of blooms.

3) Yellow weigela leaves

Most likely due to root rot or boggy soil.

4) Aphids/Spider Mites

Having spoken to a few horticulturists, I believe that weigela is prone to aphids and spider mites and if this affects your plants, you can treat them with a spray or keep sticky pads nearby.

Elizabeth Smith’s Take on Weigela

Here is a quote from Elizabeth Smith, a qualified horticulturist:

Weigela is an excellant shrub for spring and early summer blooms, expect a strong display of small, trumpet-like flowers that will hang around for several weeks. You may even even witness a second flush of colour later in the year.

More Photos

Pink weigela trumpet blooms on a branch
Beige flowers on a weigela plant
Closeup of weigela blooms
Red weigela petal closeup

Our Expertise: Backed by a Qualified Horticulturist

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This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith.

Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a keen gardener who grows organic fruit and vegetables in her Surrey garden and is moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

She is also the proud grower of a dahlia and herb garden.

Hannah worked for the NHS for 12 years but also has a level 3 qualification in horticulture and is currently studying for her level 4.

More About Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

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This weigela growing guide was published by DIY Gardening

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