Weigela tree looking barren


I have a Weigela tree in my backyard that is several years old. My home is located in North York, Toronto and the tree receives full sun conditions. We have been enjoying the weigela tree’s blooms over the past few years. However, this spring a major artery of the tree (roughly 1/3 of the tree) did not produce any leaves and is completely barren and appears to be dead. Is the tree dying or infected? Could you advise on what could have gone wrong, and what steps I can take now to help this tree recover and to avoid future loss of major branches?


Dear gardener, thank you for asking this question. It is a question that many gardeners have after their bushes grow old.

Weigela (Weigela florida) is in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family and is native to North China, Korea, and Japan. It is a very hardy shrub that is resistant to most disease and grows for a long time in full sun. If it is not pruned, it can become leggy and unattractive.

Pruning your weigela shrubs can be done quite soon, after they have bloomed. They should be coming out in bloom now; mine are. Weigela shrubs bloom on one-year-old branches, so if you prune immediately after they have bloomed you will not affect next year’s show. Identify all the dead wood, or all very old thick wood, and cut those stems down to their base. Make sure you are using a very clean knife or clippers to prevent disease. It also looks as though your plant could do with some shaping at the top. The pruning will rejuvenate your shrub and give you lovely blooms next year.

This summer, give your weigela a goodly amount of composted manure or slow-release fish fertilizer. The Toronto Master Gardeners gardening guide on Ornamental Shrubs will also give you some excellent ideas on pruning and taking care of shrubs.