First, inspect the shrub and remove any dead, dying, diseased or damaged branches at ground level.
With its graceful arching branches and clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers beloved of butterflies and hummingbirds alike, this old-fashioned shrub is enjoying a renewed resurgence in popularity. A relative of honeysuckle, weigela is an exuberant grower that tends to get unwieldy, leggy and unkempt if left unchecked.Weigela blooms on last year's wood. This means that if you prune weigela late in the year, it won't have time to produce flower buds for next spring. If you trim it too early (before it flowers) you'll be cutting off the flower buds and it won't bloom until the following year. The best time to prune weigela is immediately after the last flowers have faded, in early to mid-summer. The best way to trim weigela is to use clippers and cut it back to the desired size, although cutting the stems back 1/3 is often the rule of thumb. This helps to maintain weigela's graceful shape and form.Before you start, there are some things you should keep in mind. Pruning cuts should be made just above a bud or shoot. When pruning back, make the cut on a slight slant one-quarter inch above a healthy bud. The direction in which the top remaining bud is pointing will determine the direction of new growth.
Next, stand back and observe your weigela. Keep in mind its natural form and try to follow it as you continue pruning.
Cut leggy branches back to a main stem, bud, side shoot or branch.
Next, thin out weaker branches from the base of the shrub. Remember to stand back frequently before you decide on the next cut.
Remove crossing or inward-growing branches. This thins out crowded growth and increases airflow and light penetration, which are necessary for good flowering.
Finally, lop off any branches lying at ground level.
Tips & Warnings
- The right tools are crucial to successful pruning. Choose a good quality pair of hand clippers or gardening shears and sharpen the blade regularly. A dull blade can crush and damage the plant, leading to decay and disease.
- Never use hedge trimmers as they can destroy the natural look of your shrubs. Selective hand pruning is the only way to go,
- Avoid pruning weigela into mushrooms, boxes or sphere shapes unless you are using them for a formal hedge.
- Photo Credit Sherry Van Der Elst
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