There are few shrubs which try to hide their flowers. Most are justifiably proud of their blooms and let them take centre-stage.
But when weigela – a hardy shrub is grown widely throughout the UK – begins to flower, it suddenly puts on a spurt of growth and flings up masses of foliage. It’s almost as though it is embarrassed by its blooms.
Which is sad because weigela should be proud to be part of the summer border; it is more than capable of holding its own with the best that’s on offer in June and July.
But it is its own worst enemy. No sooner have the lovely red blooms started to appear than the shrub goes in to overdrive, producing new shoots and leaves – it’s almost as if the plant wanted to hide its flowers from prying eyes.
So to make the most of those blooms, the gardener has to get out the shears, chop off with the new leaves, and reveal what’s beneath. A couple of weeks later, and it’s out with the shears again, this time to prune the entire plant because like many shrubs that flower at this time of year, the weigela flowers on wood produced the previous year.
So if you prune it too late in the year, it won’t have time in to grow mature wood for flowering next summer. And if you prune early in the year (before it blooms) then you’ll be cutting off the flower buds that developed last year, and there will be no flowers until the following year.
As soon as your weigela has finished flowering, prune out all of the flowered stems by about one third of their length.
This will encourage the shrub to produce new shoots which will mature through the summer and produce plenty of flower buds for the next year.
And while you have the shears in your hand, it’s also a good idea to carry out some regeneration pruning. This is done by cutting back hard, around one in every three main stems – right down to near ground level.
New shoots will soon develop and grow to form a good framework of healthy stems. In subsequent years, again prune out around a third of all the older stems. It’s this pruning regime which makes the difference between a healthy shrub full of flowers and an equally healthy shrub full of just foliage.