Homer: Uh, I’d like some flowers.
Florist: What kind of flowers?
Homer: Uh, you know, pretty ones, not dead.
– The Simpsons
I haven’t been a gardener all that long. For several years before we got around to landscaping, our house looked like it belonged at Redneck Vista. When I starting planning semi-rationally, I looked for super-hardy stuff that I couldn’t kill.
The first priority was eliminating grass from the tiny strip on the south side of the house. It was hard to mow and full of weeds. We felt terrible that our favorite neighbors had a scrubby mess outside their kitchen window. We wanted to pick a single, repeating shrub to take up the space. My landscaping sister-in-law recommended weigela, which I couldn’t pronounce and had never heard of.
I had to learn to pronounce it because people ask about them. They are off the hook!
The dark-leaved variety is Wine and Roses Weigela. They rebloom on and off through the summer, but give us this amazing show in June. And when they aren’t blooming, the dark leaves look great against the house.
Nearer the front of the house, we have a variegated (stripey-leaved) version, sometimes marketed as Pink Splash.
Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all love these beauties. They are due for a bit of a trim, but I can’t possibly cut them back when they are blooming!
Until recently, weigela was considered an old-fashioned, one-hit wonder, but nurseries bred varieties with showy foliage and rebloom potential. There are dozens of choices: Red Prince is another popular large variety, while Minuet is great for containers and small spaces.
So, yes, they are gorgeous — even plant snobs agree. But easy too? Hell yes!
- It’s hardy all the way to our quasi-Siberian Zone 4. (What’s your zone? Click for US and world maps.)
- It isn’t picky about soil acidity.
- It has no significant pest problems.
- It isn’t prone to mildew or other fungus or disease issues.
- Once established, it doesn’t need lots of water.
- It grows well in sun to part-shade (full sun for best blooming).
Now that I am a serious gardener, I have plants that might plunge me into despair on any given morning, but weigela? Never. They make a difficult planting area into a feature with almost no effort. We can all use plants like that!