According to the "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants" there are 12 species of weigela, all native to eastern Asia. Three of the most species found in garden settings include Weigela middendorffiana with yellow blossoms, Weigela praecox with fragrant blooms and Weigela florida, which is by far the most common, with abundant production of many blossoms. Numerous modern hybrids arise among these wild species which are best grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture winter hardiness zones 5 through 8, although a few may survive in zones 4 and 9.
Some varieties of weigela grow into massive, mounding shrubs, with upright to spreading branches. Their mature height and width ranges between 5 to 8 feet. Abel Carriere develops deep-rose to red flowers, with yellow-spotted throats, and both Briant Rubidor and Bristol Ruby show off dark ruby-red blooms. Candida blossoms are pure white, but those of Carnaval include multiple shades of pink, white and rose all together. Pink Princess bears lavender-pink blossoms and Red Prince blooms with non-fading red flowers that occur in early and late summer.
Selections that mature to 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, perfect for a mixed garden border, are much more numerous. Variegata, with green and buttery white leaves and rose flowers is particularly attractive, as is Lucifer, with an abundance of dark-red flowers or Java Red (also known as Follis Purpureis) with bronze-green foliage. Other varieties within this size range include: Eva Rathke, Looymansii Aurea, Newport Red, Polka, Rumba, Samba, and Snowflake or Bristol Snowflake.
Small, Compact Varieties
Compact, small-sized weigela shrubs work well in containers or in quaint gardens in urban areas, where space is at a premium. Minuet has bronze-green leaves and dark-pink flowers, growing 30 inches tall and 4 feet wide. The even smaller Tango, growing only to 24 inches tall and 30 inches wide, displays purple-green foliage and red flowers with yellow throats.
- "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants;" Christopher Brickell and H. Marc Cathey, eds; 2004
- "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs;" Michael A. Dirr; 1997
- Green Meadow Nursery: Weigela, The Opinions Of A Reformed Plant Snob