Above: Robust, winter flowering variety, Daphne Odora ‘Rebecca’
Daphne’s are deciduous and evergreen shrubs, most with highly fragrant flowers. They originate in Europe, Asia and North Africa. The flowering seasons are winter-spring-summer, however, Daphne’s that flower during the winter are the most well known. They are hardy dwarf to medium sized shrubs from 45cm to 2.4m high.
Daphne’s prefer a sheltered position on moist, neutral to alkaline soil. Open ground is always preferable to Daphne’s, they don’t like being in pots, and they don’t like being in mass planting with other Daphne’s. They also don’t like being disturbed once planted, so choose your location well. Most prefer partial shade and will not do well in a full sun border, as they dislike hot, dry situations. Daphne’s do well between deciduous shrubs that will provide shade to their roots in the summer. Plants like Cornus alba ‘Sibirica variegata’ are perfect in this instance. They offer good foliage for shade during the summer and beautiful coloured stems in the winter.
Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postill’ flowers from early January to March
Daphne’s are low maintenance and only require pruning to remove damaged or dead wood, or to control the size. However, there are compact varieties that work well in smaller gardens so if you choose well you shouldn’t have to prune often at all. If you position them near to a gate, doorway or path their wonderful fragrance will be a delight as you wander by.
Underplanting Daphne shrubs with sugar pink Cyclamen will enhance their foliage and blooms. The low growing Daphne x transatlantica is ideal for planting at the base of a shady wall, under a climbing Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine.)
Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal fragrance’
Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata’ does well in a variety of situations, and is known as the gold-edged winter Daphne. It is a compact, evergreen shrub with dark green leathery leaves, edged with yellow. They have clusters of purple-pink flowers in early spring and grow to a maximum height and spread of 1.5 metres.
Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata,’ or gold-edged winter Daphne