Laboratory freezing tests of stem hardiness were conducted to develop cold hardiness profiles for 18 weigela (Weigela sp.) cultivars during the fall and winter of 1994–95. Tests were performed on containerized plants held in a temperature-controlled greenhouse to prevent exposure to potentially lethal temperatures. No cultivar survived below −6C (21F) in the October 3 test. Subsequent differences in rates of acclimation resulted in cultivars differing in hardiness by as much as 13C (23F) on November 14. Taxa also differed greatly in their maximum midwinter low temperature tolerance with ‘Centennial’ and ‘Eva Supreme’ hardy to −44C (−47F) and −28C (−18F) in mid-January, respectively. None of the cultivars deacclimated substantially in response to a week of artificially-imposed diurnal freeze/thaw cycles in early February. Taxa with the greatest midwinter hardiness also maintained the greatest hardiness in early March. Overall, ‘Centennial’, ‘Java Red’, and ‘Samba’ were the most cold hardy cultivars tested, while ‘Boskoop Glory’, ‘Bristol Snowflake’, and ‘Variegata’ were the least hardy. Cold injury of susceptible weigela cultivars appears to be a consequence of late hardening and/or insufficient midwinter hardiness rather than rapid deacclimation in response to periods of warm temperatures in mid-to late-winter.

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Author notes

Journal Series Paper number 981210030 of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

2Scientist and Professor, respectively.