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Weigela florida 'Wings of Fire'

Weigela florida 'Wings of Fire'



About this cultivar:

Weigela florida ‘Wings of Fire’ emerged from an experimental endeavour by Henny Kolster from Boskoop in the Netherlands. He gathered seeds from a mutation of Weigela florida 'Caricature', itself a mutation of Weigela florida 'Nana Variegata'. Following two rounds of careful selection, a plant emerged as a cultivar of interest! This became 'Wings of Fire'.

It has nice pink flowers, but they are not the main show. Its foliage boasts a remarkable hue, transitioning from vibrant yellowy green upon sprouting to a bronzed tone that deepens throughout the summer months. By August, it takes on a reddish hue, culminating in a beautiful wine-red colouration come Autumn.

Usually fully grown in just four to five years, it can be placed in an ornamental tub gracing the terrace, in a hedge, or in a border. 

  • Position: Full sun, partial shade (better in full sun)
  • Soil: Almost any soil - Grows well in Ballyrobert
  • Flowers: June, July, August, September
  • Other features: Bees, Butterflies, and Bugs
  • Hardiness: Fully Hardy, Grows well in Ballyrobert, H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15°C)
  • Habit: Bushy
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Height: 100 to 150 cm  (3.5 - 5 ft) 
  • Spread: 100 to 150 cm  (3.5 - 5 ft)
  • Time to full growth: 5 to 10 years
  • Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial, Shrub
  • Colour: Red, yellow, green
  • Goes well with: Lysmachia, hedge

About this genus:

Weigela is a genus of about 30 species (it changes!) of deciduous shrubs in the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). Native to eastern Asia they are named after the German scientist Christian Weigel.

Lets go for a wee detour, or should I say a ….Weigel... detour?!?! Among other things, Weigel developed a cooling heat exchanger which was later improved upon by Justus von Liebig and then became known as the Liebig condenser. Do you remember that from High School Chemistry?

Weigela leaves tend to be ovate-oblong with an acuminate tip and with a serrated margin. The flowers are usually five-lobed white, pink, or red (rarely yellow) corolla, produced in small corymbs (flat flower cluster) in early summer. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous small winged seeds. Size can be variable but is usually a medium type shrub.

Several fossil seeds and fruit fragments of Weigela have been found from the middle Miocene strata (15 to 10 million years ago) in Denmark. So, it has been around a long time, though perhaps not always in Asia.

Presumably first brought to European gardens by Robert Fortune, in his 1847 book ‘Three years’ wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China’ (here) he writes "Another plant, certainly one of the most beautiful shrubs of northern China, the Weigela rosea, was first discovered in the garden of a Chinese mandarin near the city of Tinghae on this island {Chusan}. This spring, it was loaded with its noble rose-coloured flowers, and was the admiration of all who saw it, both English and Chinese. I have great pleasure in saying that all these plants and many others, natives of Chusan, are now growing in our gardens in England.” We have great pleasure too Robert…

The British Weigela national collection is held at Sheffield Botanical Gardens (they also have the National Collections of Sarcococca and Diervilla).

Ok, Ok, I have been indulgent. What does that mean in the garden!?!? Well it will grow in most places that aren’t too extreme, in some our photos you can see the moss growing on the surrounding soil – this is not that well drained (honestly we only select plants like this here…..).

We like to use cultivars with colourful foliage against which other plants contrast, Lysmachia for example. They have also great flowers though, so if you want more of them put it in a sunny location. Some people even like to blend them into a hedge!