Kolkwitzia amabilis

Botanical Name: Kolkwitzia amabilis

Common Name:

Plant Hardiness: Zone 4

Flower: Light pink flowers cover the arching branches in late spring

Bloom Time: Late May into June

Foliage: Dark green in summer turning yellow in the fall

Fruit: A dry capsule that splits open to release a seed

Habit: A large upright shrub with arching branches. Becomes rangy at maturity

Size: 10 to 15 feet high and wide

Sun Exposure: Full sun for best flowering

Native Habitat: China and Japan

Other Features: This plant is best cut back every few years to keep from getting too large and open



Description: This is a shrub that can get quite large, up to 15 feet high and wide, and become rangy and open if it reaches that size. It wouldn’t have much to recommend it except in late May and early June when the plant is covered with dainty light pink bell-shaped flowers. As a smaller plant, this is a real, real beauty when in bloom. The best way to handle this shrub probably would be to cut it back to the ground right after blooming every few years and let it rejuvenate itself. Kolkwitzia is very adaptable to most garden soils and is almost disease and insect free, plus it has a relatively good fall color. When in bloom, in a two gallon container, this plant is a true knockout. Another interesting point about this plant is that it was brought to the United States from China in 1901 by E. H. Wilson who considered it one of the best plants he introduced into cultivation (and he introduced plenty). It evidently wasn’t used much until the 1920’s when Jackson and Perkins decided it was a wonderful plant and sold them by the thousands. Lud Hoffman mentions when he was a young man in the 1930’s, his employer at that time used at least one Kolkwitzia on every landscape job they planted. In the 1970 edition of Wyman’s Encyclopedia, he says that it is probably being used too much at this time. I have a feeling he wrote that part long before 1970 as I really haven’t seen the plant listed to any extent in the forty-five years I’ve been in the business. I feel this is a plant that is probably going to have to be discovered all over again.