Weigela - 'Minuet' & 'Tango'
Dance Hybrid Weigelas
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Family: Hoenysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae)
Native Habitat: Japan


Weigela is one of those old fashioned shrubs that your grandmother may have grown in her garden. Originally introduced into western horticulture in 1860, the older varieties were grown for only one reason: their wonderful display of brightly colored flowers in mid-spring. After two or three weeks the blooms were done for the year and for the rest of the growing season a nondescript, fairly large-growing, green shrub was left. A lack of any significant fall color and the ungraceful and coarse branching pattern evident in winter made them strictly a "one hit wonder". Hardiness of these older types was also somewhat suspect with Zone 5 their northern limits and winter injury occurring occasionally even there.

In the last 30 years, the plant breeders have really gotten busy with Weigleas and many new varieties have arrived on the scene. Improved hardiness, extended flowering seasons, a more compact habit and colored foliage have been the focus of most of the breeding work. At Agricultural Canada's Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Dr. Felicitas Svejda began a Weigela breeding program in 1961. She eventually introduced five varieties, of which 'Minuet' was the first to be released, in 1981. All five varieties were named for dances. 'Minuet' was the first truly dwarf variety of Weigela, growing to only 1½ to 2½ ft. high and wide. More importantly, especially in Canada, it showed increased winter hardiness, being fully hardy in Zone 4. The foliage is tinged mocha, most prominently along the leaf edge. The flowering period of four weeks is quite long for a Weigela and up to 50% of the plant is covered in bloom when flowering is at its peak.

'Tango' is the other Dance Hybrid Weigela that we offer. It grows slightly larger than 'Minuet', topping out at a maximum of a little over 2½ ft. Flowering is quite similar to 'Minuet' but the foliage is the real difference between the two. The leaves of 'Tango' appear to have been dipped in chocolate. When leaves first emerge in spring they are only slightly dark-tinged but then begin darkening to that wonderful chocolate color that lasts until leaves fall in the autumn.

What great Weigelas these are: improved hardiness, compact habits well suited to today's gardens, extended bloom periods, and colorful foliage. Quite a gift from Dr. Svejda and Agriculture Canada.


Ornamental Characteristics: Foliage of 'Minuet' is mocha-tinged, heaviest along the leaf edges. Foliage of 'Tango' looks to have been dipped in chocolate. Red buds open to deep-pink flowers in mid-spring. Heavy bloomers. Flower buds and then blooms are effective for 4 to 5 weeks.
Habit & Growth Rate: Multi-stemmed deciduous shrubs with a slow to medium growth rate. Dwarf form to 2 or 2½ ft. high and wide.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, mixed border, foundation plantings. Deer resistant.
Hardiness: Zone 4 to 8.
Culture: Easily grown in ordinary garden soil. Full sun to light shade. Foliage color is best in full sun.


Weigela 'Tango'

'Minuet' (left), 'Tango' (right)