April Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Weigela

The Weigela behind our greenhouse is absolutely covered with blooms today. This red-blooming bush has rosy red flowers all along every stem. Weigela florida is an old-fashioned shrub that covers itself in Spring with tubular blooms that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. 
Weigela is not native to the United States, but is considered to be an Antique or Heirloom Plant that was introduced here in about 1860. Weigela can be found in old gardens all over the Southeast and is very popular in Georgia.
Give your weigela plenty of room because it will grow quickly to a large size. Don't fret if you have a small garden with not enough room for such a voluptuous shrub--dwarf cultivars are available.

Weigela can be grown just about anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4 - 8.

Although culture requirements listed in books and online recommend full sun, weigela needs part shade here in Georgia. If you are in the Southern states, Weigela will enjoy morning sun only. Hot afternoon sun will scorch the leaves. I usually recommend planting Weigela along with your azaleas, camellias, and hydrangeas, as they like similar garden conditions.

The plentiful blooms appear in April and May and can be white, pink, or Red. One of our shrubs, Weigela florida 'Variegata' has both pink and white blooms on the same shrub amid variegated foliage.

If pruning is needed to maintain a rounded form, do so immediately after flowering.

Weigela is excellent in the shrub border mixed with other shrubs, but also makes an excellent specimen plant and mixes well with native shrubs in natural areas.

April Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Wild Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens
Red Trumpet Honeysuckle

A spectacular vine blooming in our garden in April is the native American Honeysuckle Vine, Lonicera sempervirens. I'm not talking about the very invasive Japanese Honeysuckle that permeates the air with it's strong fragrance and chokes out everything in its path. We don't love that one. Lonicera sempervirens is a well-behaved native vine not often seen growing in the wild. 

The most popular is called Red Trumpet Honeysuckle, so named for its Red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds. This is a coral red, which is why it is also known as Coral Honeysuckle.

Lonicera sempervirens, unlike Lonicera japonica, is NOT invasive, and should be planted instead of the very invasive Japanese Honeysuckle. Although Red Honeysuckle is not fragrant, hummingbirds will flock around it all summer long. 

Lonicera sempervirens 'John Clayton'

Lonicera sempervirens 'John Clayton' is a yellow-flowering form named after John 
Clayton, the colonial botanist who discovered it

 growing on the grounds of a 17th Century church in Glouchester, Virginia. 

Lonicera sempervirens is a vigorous yet non-invasive flowering native vine that hummingbirds love. Evergreen in most of the Southern states, Lonicera sempervirens blooms almost year round. I've seen blooms on ours in December here at Shady Gardens in west central Georgia. 

Red Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, is one of the best hummingbird magnets I know of, with its large red tubular flowers that come almost year round in my garden. (We've had a few blooms on our plant in January here in West Central Georgia!) 

Our native honeysuckle flowers during the summer on last year’s growth. A few bright red berries will appear, but this plant doesn't sow itself all over the garden and nearby woods like Japanese Honeysuckle does. 

Grows 10-20' in length and prefers sun. Usually grows naturally in the woods, but flowers much more heavily when grown in full sun. 

Indigenous to the South, this vine can be found growing in woodlands across much of the region, but it is not invasive. It won't gobble up your whole garden like the white flowering Japanese honeysuckle does. 

Trumpet honeysuckle has a long blooming season that starts in late spring and continues sporadically through the summer. It will grow in shade but bloom will be more profuse and foliage will be more lush if grown in full sun. 

Give honeysuckle a fence, trellis, or arbor to climb. The supple vines need to wrap around something so they can pull themselves up off the ground. Honeysuckle grows in any well-drained soil, has few pests, and is fairly drought tolerant. It thrives in containers or in the garden. 

Hummingbirds and butterflies love the nectar-filled trumpets, and songbirds eat the juicy fruits left by the spent flowers. If you need a flowering vine that is easy to grow, try this one. It will make you happy, and the wildlife will love you for it. 

Even if you don't live in the South, you can grow Lonicera sempervirens in your garden, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4-11.

Find a spot in your garden for Red Trumpet Honeysuckle and the hummingbirds will visit you all summer long.

June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Oakleaf Hydrangea

This time of year our garden is always bursting with blooms, but this year has been a little different. Due to a very mild winter, everythin...