Weigela Purpurea Group

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Tom Christian & Alan Elliott (2019)

Recommended citation
Christian, T. & Elliott, A. (2019), 'Weigela Purpurea Group' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/weigela/weigela-purpurea-group/). Accessed 2024-06-20.




Tom Christian & Alan Elliott (2019)

Recommended citation
Christian, T. & Elliott, A. (2019), 'Weigela Purpurea Group' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/weigela/weigela-purpurea-group/). Accessed 2024-06-20.

Leaves brown-red to purple-red. Plants usually of dwarf or semi-dwarf habit; adults usually 0.5–1.5 m tall and broad. Flowers variously coloured, most often purple or red. The standard cultivar is ‘Foliis Purpureis’. (Hoffmann 2008).


Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela WINE & ROSES

Released by H. Geers of Boskoop in 1989 ‘Alexandra’ has dark brown-red leaves and intense purple-pink flowers, hence its trade designation WINE & ROSES. It grows to c. 1.7 m tall and slightly broader, making it larger than most other Purpurea Group cultivars, the others of comparable stature being ‘Foliis Purpureis’ and ‘Victoria’, but ‘Alexandra’ has larger leaves, redder in colour and glossier. In his assessment following field trials Hoffmann adds that this is one of the best flowering of the Purpurea Group. W. ‘Elvera’ is a dwarf selection of ‘Alexandra’, rarely exceeding 0.5 m. (Hoffmann 2007).


Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela florida 'Anika'

This obscure cultivar is listed by Hoffman in both is 2007 and 2008 papers (Hoffmann 2007, 2008) but without any supplementary information. It is not listed by Howard (1965) suggesting it arose after this date, while the RHS list the name as ‘unchecked’ (rhs.org.uk).

'Black Magic'

‘Black Magic’ makes a low, mounded shrub 30–50 cm tall with a spread of about 60 cm. The leaves are green-burgundy and hold their colour well throghout the season. The pink flowers appear during April and May (missouribotanicalgarden.org).


Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela florida 'Bokrafive'
Weigela florida 'Merlot Rose'
Weigela 'Merlot Rose'

This is a relatively new selection in the Colorstar™ series, with dark green-bronze foliage and dark pink, tubular flowers. It grows to c. 1 m × 1 m tall and broad (conceptplants.com). It appears to be more widely available in North America than in Europe.


Synonyms / alternative names

A medium sized densely branched shrub to c. 1.5 m tall and slightly wider. It is densely branched and of sturdy growth, and in a trial at Boskoop in the early 2000s was judged to be the best of the Purpurea Group for its foliage. The foliage is glossy brown-red and the flowers, relatively sparsely borne which helps to make the most of the foliage, are purple-pink. Raised by Boot & Co, Boskoop, the Netherlands in 1996 (Hoffmann 2007).


Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela florida 'Bokratwo'
Weigela 'Merlot Pink'

Released as a Colorstar™ series cultivar, Weigela ‘Bokratwo’ is described as a compact shrub, to 1 m tall and broad, with burgundy foliage and pink flowers (conceptplants.com).

'Coffee Black'

A relatively low shrub, to 1 m tall and slightly broader. The foliage is dark brown-red, apparently amongst the darkest colour of all the Purpurea Group, while the flowers are relatively small, dark purple-red, often not opening fully. Raised by B. Verhoef at Hazerswoude, the Netherlands, in 2000 (Hoffmann 2007).

'Courtacad 1'

Synonyms / alternative names

Described as a compact plant, 40–60 cm tall and 60–80 cm broad, with purple-green young leaves maturing to a more vibrant purple during summer. This provides a striking foil for the flowers which are off-white, with a very pale pink flush, borne in late spring and early summer (burncoose.co.uk).

'Dark Horse'

A relatively low growing and compact shrub, typically 0.6–0.9 m tall and equally broad. The dark purple-maroon leaves retain their colour through the growing season and set off the pink flowers. Raised in the United States in the early 2000s as part of a breeding programme established to further develop the Purpurea Group, Weigela ‘Dark Horse’ is the result of a cross between W. ‘Foliis Purpureis’ and W. ‘Victoria’ (the latter being the seed parent) (missouribotanicalgarden.org).


This name is listed on the Friends of Sheffield Botanical Gardens webpage, which shows a single image of a plant with rose-pink flowers, but no further references could be found.


Synonyms / alternative names

A dwarf version of Weigela ‘Alexandra’, not usually exceeding 0.5 m tall. In North America it is marketed under the name W. Midnight Wine. Raised by H. Geers, Boskoop, in c. 2001 (Hoffmann 2007).

'Foliis Purpureis'

‘Foliis Purpureis’ was selected from a batch of seed-raised plants, grown from seed (labelled W. florida) that arrived in France, from China, before 1857. It is described as a medium-sized shrub, to 1.5 m × 1.6 m, larger growing, less compact, and with less remarkable foliage colouration than many other Purpurea Group selections. The flowers are pale-pink (Bean 1981b; Hoffmann 2007).


Little information about this cultivar seems to exist, Hoffmann (2007) giving only the bare essentials: ‘Fairly small shrub with brown-red leaves’. Even Google draws a near-blank. The Friends of Sheffield Botanical Gardens webpage does illustrate the flowers, though, which are an attractive mid-pink.

'Java Red'

A medium-sized shrub to 1.2 m tall and slightly wider. In spring the fresh foliage is dark purple, gradually turning very dark green with a purple hue, often retaining some better purple near the tip. The flowers are pale pink (plants.gertens.com).

'Nana Purpurea'

Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela 'Purpurea Nana'

Following the Weigela trial at Boskoop in the 2000s Hoffmann concluded ‘This is probably a synonym of “Foliis Purpureis”’ as all plants supplied under the name ‘Nana Purpurea’ were found to be ‘Foliis Purpureis’ (Hoffmann 2007).

'Ruby Queen'

Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela 'Ruby King'

A small-growing selection with red leaves, raised by H. Geers, Boskoop, the Netherlands, in 1994. It is very like ‘Bokrashine’ but smaller in stature and in leaf, while being larger in stature than typical ‘Verweig 3’ (Hoffmann 2007).


A seemingly obscure cultivar with few references in literature. The source for this name is the webpage of the Friends of Sheffield Botanical Gardens, which illustrates a plant with dark rose-pink flowers.


Weigela ‘Samba’ arose at the Ottawa Research Station, the result of a cross between ‘Rumba’ and ‘Eva Rathke’ made by F. Svedja in c. 1984. In trials at Boskoop Hoffmann concluded that ‘Samba’ was not as valuable an ornamental as other Purpurea Group clones, notably ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Bokrashine’ (Hoffmann 2007).


Another selection from F. Svedja at the Ottawa Research Station, this one raised in c. 1985. It is a medium-sized shrub, to c. 1.5 m tall and broad, with red-green foliage and purple-pink flowers produced in profusion. At trials in Boskoop it was considered superior to ‘Samba’ and ‘Victoria’ (Hoffmann 2007).


Synonyms / alternative names
Weigela TUXEDO

Similar to ‘Courtacad 1’ (BLACK AND WHITE) in that its main feature is the contrast between the very dark purple-green foliage, appearing almost black, and the near-white flowers, with a yellow or gold-tinged throat in this selection. 0.8–1 m tall and 1–1.5 m broad. Raised in the Netherlands in the early 2010s (Hatch 2018–2020).

'Verweig 3'PBR

Synonyms / alternative names

A low and compact shrub to 0.75 m tall and to 1 m broad. Relatively small red-brown foliage can be almost completely obscured by a profusion of purple-pink funnel-shaped flowers up to 2.5 cm wide at the mouth. It was raised by B. Verhoef at Hazerswoude, the Netherlands in c. 2003 and quickly received a silver medal at Plantarium 2006 (Hoffmann 2007).


Weigela ‘Victoria’ was raised by H. Geers, Boskoop, in c. 1988 and was an improvement on ‘Foliis Purpureis’, with dull red-green leaves and purple-pink flowers. Unfortunately it was released at about the same time as the Canadian ‘Tango’, which has better leaf colour, and consequently ‘Victoria’ was never as popular (Hoffmann 2007).