Weigela

Variegated
Weigela


"So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall."

-Paul Simon,
b.1941

   

Weigela florida 'Variegata' is a compact deciduous woody shrub. There is considerable variation in 'Variegata' from grower to grower & it sometimes seems as though 'Variegata' is actually a half-dozen different pink-flowering cultivars lumped together under one name. Some have slightly pinker throats or at least darken more as the flowers age, some have the creamy leaf-edging a deeper yellow, some are more compact with much slower growth rate.

Incorrect alternative names like 'Argenteo Marginata' & 'Aureo Variegata' may have arisen with growers convinced, perhaps correctly, they had a strain noticeably different from other growers. But broadly described, 'Variegata' has slow to medium growth rate reaching four to six feet height & six or seven feet width, which is about half the size of the species.

It could get a bit taller or wider with the occasional vagrant limb, but it usually needs pruning once every few years, if not annually, or it becomes lanky & less appealing. It's otherwise undemanding, a highly adaptable shrub that tolerates a wide range of soil conditions for pH acid, neutral, or slightly alkaline; droughty or moist; in sun or partial shade. Although ideally it has moist well draining humusy soil & lots of sunlight.

A bit of shade would be more appropriate in areas with long hot droughty summers, since like most variegated shrubs, the leaves can become sunburnt. Conceivably it would bloom less well if too shaded, yet the specimen I photographed at a friend's house has over time become quite shaded by a rapidly growing fir tree, & has not yet shown any decline of blooming strength.

'Variegata' is sometimes designated "Old Fashioned Variegated Weigela" because it is an heirloom variety. The newest weigela cultivars are less inclined to get rangy if not pruned, plus typically they have larger brighter flowers. But claims of improvements over "Old Fashioned" variegated weigela seem to me to be overstated, because it was never of the type that quickly got rangy or which had unimposing flowers. In fact some of the newer variegated forms like 'Pink Princess' & 'Sunny Princess' are either too similar or inferior to the old standard 'Variegata,' even if others among the new wave of weigelas, including such new variegated forms as 'Brigela' (aka 'French Lace') can be pretty exciting because of flowers that are bright red instead of pink.

Its funnel-shaped flowers, liked by hummingbirds, are a bright pink on the outside, pale pink to nearly white on the inside. These occur in May, singly or in large axillary clusters, & are attractive to hummingbirds. Even when not in flower it is a colorful shrub, given the white margins on its leaves.

The species is native to Japan & IndoChina. It is cold-hardy, suited for zones 4 through 8; the species might do well in Zone 9 but the variegated form could prove too prone to sunburn in a hotter climate.

See also
Weigela florida 'Java Red'

   



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