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I have had this shrub about 40 years now. My Bristol Ruby version of Weigela is not surprisingly red, but there are different varieties of this species of deciduous shrub.
It was the first shrub that I planted in our garden with heavy Essex clay soil, just as the builders had left it.
Although I have gradually improved the quality of the soil in most of my flowerbeds, the corner where this Weigela is planted has never been changed. Yet it is one of the most vigorous plants I have.
From the dry looking stick it was when I first planted it, it grew to about 8 foot tall in a few years in its sunny location. Therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to go to the expense of buying a large plant. Instead I would recommend getting a modestly priced smaller one, about a foot tall, as mine grew fast.
Recently the concrete posts, supporting my fence in “Weigela Corner”, had to be replaced. I believe the shrub’s roots were at least in part to blame for the posts breaking. (I would expect this sort of problem with all large vigorous plants.) With the wife’s permission, I cut the plant back to ground level. She said that we could put a different plant there if it died. Far from damaging it, a year later it has grown to a very bushy 4 foot high already! The hard pruning of this mature plant seems to have done it good.
The only care I have given it is pruning it just after it has finished flowering in late Spring/early Summer. You should take off a minimum of all stems with dead flower heads on. If you leave pruning too late in the year, it may not have time to produce flowers for the following Spring.
Either side of my Weigela I have Hebes which are summer flowering shrubs, to give this part of my garden continuous colour. Pruning the Weigela in May or June gives the plants either side the extra light they need to look their best when it is time for them to produce their flowers.
I recommend Weigela Bristol Ruby to anyone wanting a hardy spring flowing shrub that will grow to about 8 foot tall. Mine has needed very little maintenance, except for an annual prune.
About 30 years ago, I went to my local Woolworth's small garden department and bought what looked like a dead stick and dry earth in a cellophane wrapper.
The reason I bought this particular dead-looking stick was the pretty picture of what it should eventually look like, the advice that it was hardy and an easy plant for a novice gardener to care for, and the nominal price which meant that I had nothing much to lose.
Weigela should grow in almost any kind of soil (light or heavy, clay or chalky). The best position (either sunny or partial shade) depends on which variety you have.
I noted that my variety Bristol Ruby preferred a sunny position, dug a small hole in a bright corner of my garden, and watered it regularly for the first few weeks.
After that I forgot about it for much of the time, as I was working long hours. I didn't even think to put any compost or plant food into the heavy clay soil it was planted in, though I couldn't recommend such neglect to others! Despite this, it still grew into a tall shrub with red funnel-shaped flowers in late spring to early summer.
Many years later it has now survived times of neglect, and occasional nurture, growing to about seven feet tall.
I find the smell of the flowers quite delicate, which is good for me, as stronger smelling plants seem more likely to trigger my pollen allergies.
= Soil =
When I first planted this shrub, my entire garden had heavy clay soil in it. Over the decades, I have tried to gradually make it lighter by adding sand and appropriate compost. These improvements have helped me established extra plants around the weigela, but true to its initial instructions, it has grown happily in whatever soil has been provided.
= Pruning =
Once established, I pruned it every year after flowering, as advised. Well, I didn't think a little attention once a year was too much to supply! As flowers only seem to appear on new growth (less than a year old), this is the ideal time to prune.
For the early years of my weigela's life, I did not know not know how to prune expertly, but despite this, my trial and error pruning styles didn't do any long term harm to the plant. I now know that the experts advise cutting back about a quarter of the stems to ground level. (Ideally there should be a strong pair of buds just below the cut.)
= Cuttings =
The most successful time to take cuttings has been July and August for me. The more care you take, the better your success rate should be, but just sticking a piece of new growth in some compost and then keeping it well watered, may be enough with this hardy plant. I put its flower pot in a saucer of water so that it is continually able to draw up more water from the bottom.
As well as the Bristol Ruby Weigela that I have in my garden (as shown in the picture), which likes full sun, other varieties that I know of are Briant Rubidor and Variegata.
Briant Rubidor is a golden leaved form, which prefers partial shade.
Variegata has green leaves with cream edges to them, and should be happy in either full sun or partial shade.
Weigela is a hardy shrub that I think is ideal for beginners, or those who do not want to spend a lot of time on garden maintenance. It just needs pruning once a year after flowering.
The rest of the summer and autumn I find that the green foliage is a pleasant backdrop for the shorter plants that I have in the ground in front of it.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED hardy shrub which produces red flowers in late Spring through to early Summer (usually April-June in my Essex garden).