Ailing Weigela


Hi, this weigela used to be so full and lovely, now there are many dead branches. It gets more sparce each year. I had cut back branches from another tree above it but that isn’t helping. Is it dying, is there anything I can do? Thanks


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.

Weigela is a shrub that is tremendously popular in the garden because of its ease of cultivation and its abundant and long-lasting floral display throughout the summer. It prefers a sunny location and rich well-drained soil to perform optimally. However, it can survive in partial-shade and adapt to a variety of soils.

It is difficult to say what is causing your shrub to fail, however with the addition of organic compost and proper pruning practices you should start to see improvement.

Amending the soil with some yearly compost will help, not only with moisture retention but also giving the roots good nutrition. Similarly, adding a thin layer of mulch around the area will reduce water evaporation.

Mature shrubs of all kinds benefit from the removal of older interior branches – this will allow light and air in, improving the overall health of the plant by increasing photosynthesis and helping to prevent fungal diseases. 

Because Weigela blooms on the previous year’s growth, pruning in late spring, once flowering is over, is the best time to trim and shape your shrub. With clean, sharp secateurs  your aim is to start pruning from the inside of the bush, working your way out. That is, reach right in and remove dead/damaged wood, and thin out dense growth areas inside the base, to promote good air circulation. Use the measure of  “one third” as a maximum amount of plant material you remove. Once this is achieved, you can polish off  with some shaping of your bush.

This will give you a good framework to work with once blooming is finished next spring.

Incorporating the above techniques and some TLC you should notice an improvement in your Weigela shrub.