Plant identity

(Question)

Last summer I saw this plant growing so happily is the worst possible conditions in downtown Toronto. It is in a hot, dry and mostly shaded location, exposed to car pollution all day long on Richmond Street near Yonge Street downtonw. Could it be Dogwood? It occurred to me that if it could grow in these drought conditions, it might be happy at my cottage near Midland where we reside on mostly sand in drought conditions (as I am only there on weekends and cannot water during the week).

(Answer)

Dear gardener,

I believe that the shrub you are admiring is a variegated cultivar of Weigela florida.

This beautiful Asian deciduous shrub is used extensively in urban landscapes for informal hedges, groupings or for specimen planting as it possesses attractive foliage, lovely trumpet-like flowers appearing along arching branches and, it hardly needs pruning, except to remove dead wood in the spring.

This low maintenance shrub it is very easy to grow. 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. As with any new planting, the first season is critical as you want your shrub to establish itself well.  Perhaps your site would benefit from some soil preparation before planting. Amending the soil with some compost will help, not only with some of the moisture retention issues while you are away, but also giving the roots good nutrition to get established. Similarly, adding a thin layer of mulch around the area will reduce water evaporation. Make sure that you water it well between visits. Lastly, you may want to consider planting this shrub when the temperatures are cooler and there is more chance of precipitation rather than in the hottest and drier months.

One added benefit at your cottage is that this shrub’s flowers attract Hummingbirds and butterflies in abundance!

For more information on blooming deciduous shrubs, please refer to our gardening guide: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/blooming-deciduous-trees-and-shrubs-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Good luck and thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.