Growing Daphne: Tips at a Glance
Scented daphne shrubs (evergreen or deciduous, depending on the variety) will fill a shady or sunny hole in the garden with a compact, rounded shape and glossy leaves. Look for winter-blooming cultivars to add color and fragrance to a drab season.
- Type Flowering shrub
- Lifespan Perennial
- USDA Zones 4-9
- Light Sun or shade
- Soil Rich in humus
- Companions Skimmia, sweet box
- Design Tip Near a doorway
- Other Uses Next to a path
- Peak Season Winter, spring
Daphne: A Field Guide
With nearly 100 species of species of scented daphnes to choose among, you can enjoy the flowers’ spicy scent from spring through winter (most common are winter-blooming varieties). But be warned: In any season, this is a temperamental shrub.
Daphnes do not like to be transplanted, for one thing. They are a slow-growing shrub but once they settle in a spot, they like to stay there. Nor does they tolerate dryness or acidic soil (don’t spread coffee grounds beneath them). But a happy daphne will reward you with a hauntingly lovely fragrance every time you pass by. Its tiny flowers pack a potent and complex perfume; clip a cluster and keep them in a water glass on the night table to calm a restless sleeper.
Now for the easy part: daphnes don’t require pruning, as they grow, their branches naturally form loose, symmetrical globes. Many species are evergreen and will add structure and texture to an otherwise drab winter corner. Favorites include Daphne odora, the winter daphne, which produces delicate pale pink flowers in February; Daphne ‘Lawrence Crocker’ for flowers from spring through fall, and variegated Daphne ‘Summer Ice’ for a prolific blooming habit.