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Weigela florida (Bge.) A.DC.

Modern name

Weigela florida (Bunge) A. DC.


Calysphyrum floridum Bge.; Diervilla florida (Bge.) Sieb. & Zucc.; Weigela rosea Lindl.

A shrub 6 to 9 ft high, of spreading habit and arching branches; young shoots with two lines of short hairs. Leaves oval or oval-lanceolate, long-pointed, toothed except at the base, felted on the midrib beneath, 2 to 412 in. long, 34 to 112 in. wide, very shortly stalked. Flowers often in terminal threes or fours on short lateral twigs. Corolla funnel-shaped, 114 in. long, with five spreading rounded lobes at the mouth, where it is as much in diameter, deep rose on the outside, paler and becoming almost white within; stigma bilobed. Calyx divided to about the middle into five narrowly triangular lobes. Ovary slightly downy. Bot. Mag., t. 4396.

Native of N. China and Korea; described by Bunge from plants cultivated in Peking gardens; Fortune first saw it in the garden of a mandarin on the island of Chusan, and purchased a plant from a Shanghai nursery which he sent to the Horticultural Society in 1844. Revisiting the nursery some years later he was asked by the nurseryman and his sons how this and the other plants he bought had thrived. ‘I told them that most of the plants had arrived safely in England, that they had been greatly admired, and that the beautiful Weigela had even attracted the notice of her Majesty the Queen. All these statements, more particularly the last, seemed to give them great pleasure; and they doubtless fancied the Weigela of more value ever afterwards.’ (Fortune, Gard. Chron., 1850, p. 757).

For half a century or more after its introduction W. florida was the commonest of the weigelas in gardens, but has now largely given way to its cultivars and hybrids. Most of the latter with pink or carmine flowers derive from it.

cv. ‘Foliis Purpureis’. – A low-growing shrub. Leaves dark green with a metallic lustre, flushed with purple. Flowers pink; ovaries dark purple. Raised in France from Chinese seed (Rev. Hort., 1921, pp. 278-9).

var. venusta (Rehd.) Nakai Diervilla florida var. venusta Rehd.; W. venusta (Rehd.) Stapf. – A graceful shrub to 6 or 9 ft high, differing from the typical state in its smaller, obovate leaves. Corolla narrowing rather more gradually towards the base. Introduced to the Arnold Arboretum by J. G. Jack in 1905 from Korea, of which it is a native. Plants cultivated in Britain probably all derive from the seeds collected by Wilson in Korea in 1918. Bot. Mag., t. 9080.

W. praecox (Lemoine) Bailey Diervilla praecox Lemoine – Closely allied to the preceding but with the leaves hairy all over the undersurface and also hairy, though more sparsely, above. Flowers fragrant, 112 in. long, rose-coloured, yellow in the throat, produced in clusters of three or five in May, some three or four weeks before the other cultivated species. The calyx resembles that of W. florida in lobing but it and the ovary are more downy. Native mainly of Korea and the Ussuri region of Russia, but also reported from the Japanese island of Kyushu. It was put into commerce by Lemoine in 1894 and named by him. He used it to produce such hybrids as ‘Avalanche’, ‘Espérance’, ‘Fleur de Mai’ and ‘Gracieux’.

Under the names W. florida ‘Variegata’ and W. praecox ‘Variegata’ two rather similar hybrids are in cultivation, both erect growing and with creamy yellow or ivory-white margination to the leaves. In one, which seems to be the commoner, the leaves are mostly rather narrow, with an abnormal, irregular margin, and are often pink-tinged at the edge. Despite its virus-ridden look it is free-flowering, bearing blush flowers with pink shading in large clusters. The other has generally broader, even obovate leaves, the margins of which are mostly regular, except near the flowers. Neither belongs to W. florida nor to W. praecox, though the influence of the former is shown in both clones, which are probably seedlings of W. amabilis, (see W. coraeensis).

There is another variegated weigela in gardens quite different from the above. It is of low, spreading habit; the leaves have a pure and vivid white margination and the flowers are dull reddish pink from dark red buds. This is near to W. florida, but probably a hybrid. Its correct cultivar-name is uncertain.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

During their visit to South Korea the collectors mentioned above also gathered seeds of both this species and the related W. praecox (the latter previously known in Britain only by the plants originally distributed by the French nurseryman Lemoine). The seeds of W. florida were collected on Mount Pukhan, north-west of Seoul (B.E. & C. 206); those of W. praecox from a plant some 2 ft high and wide growing in a rock crevice in the Mount Odae National Park, Kangwon province (B.E. & C. 157).

Hybrids (page 747)

† ‘Evita. – This notable introduction resembles ‘Eva Rathke’ in the colour of its flowers (and is probably a seedling of it), but is of dense, spreading habit, to 2 ft or so high. The main flowering season is in the first half of June, but there is some display later in the summer on mature plants. Raised in Holland.

† ‘Mont Blanc. Lemoine, 1898; W. florida × W. japonica (or W. hortensis). – Flowers large, white ageing to pink.



Other species in the genus