Daphne comes in at least 35 species. They are all lovely and rewarding to grow. But almost every one's favourite variety is blooming now through Spring with that unique sweet perfume it's named Daphne odora.
This native of Japan and China comes in two varieties. Vigorous D. odora "leucanthe" has clusters of tiny, creamy white star flowers with pink highlights that bloom along the trunk and branches as well as the tips.
This is a large and more robust and round or mounded shrub with bigger leaves of a darker, glossy green. There is a white form which is uncommon but quite stunning.
D. Odora"Rubra" is the classic more compact and spreading shrub with pink and sparkling white blooms on longer stems with the same fruiting sweet perfume.
These glossy-leafed evergreens are hardy to quite cold and freezing weather and also survive up to the subtropics. They will tolerate full sun but prefer dappled shade and good air flow.
A warm and sheltered position is preferred in very cold Winter climates. While near the subtropics plant them in dappled shade or a position exposed to chill winds and mid-day shade out of scalding sunshine. Soil should be light, slightly acid and well drained with plenty of leaf mould or peat moss.
They often do well when planted just inside the drip line of a large, spreading conifer. Daphne is well suited to raised beds. Water only lightly and let soil dry out in summer between waterings. Over watering in summer or poor winter drainage often lead to collar rot or other fungal diseases that can quickly kill the plant.
To help strengthen the shrub and increase later flowering, feed with a complete plant food mixed with Iron Chelate, flowers of Sulphur or Aluminum Sulphate. Alternatively choose the easy way and feed them with a specially prepared commercial fertiliser especially made for acid loving plants.
This is often sold as Azalea, Camellia, and Rhododendron food. Because Daphne roots are shallow and can be burned by excessive chemical feeding, mix one cup of the special acid plant food with one bucket of well-aged manure or mature compost.
Spread this fertiliser mix liberally from just off the trunk outward to the drip line all around underneath the shrub. Avoid using mushroom compost as this contains lime which is detrimental to Daphne. Prune lightly to shape after flowering in Spring. These pruned tip cuttings strike easily and quickly.
First their pruned ends can be dipped in rooting hormone then place the cutting(s) into propagating sand or light potting mix in a pot. Rest each cutting against the side of the pot and fill in around them with more sand/soil mix. Water in lightly.
Place the pot inside a plastic bag which is drawn up and lightly tied over the cuttings. This creates a mini terrarium over the cuttings that will keep them humid and moist. Place this little terrarium in a moderately warm lightly shaded environment which stays at a rather constant temperature. Check periodically to be sure the soil mix remains moist.
Within a few weeks roots should begin to form and the bag can be opened to more light and air. After a few more weeks the bag can be removed and the cutting pot placed in a morning sun position where they can grow on. Cuttings are usually ready to transplant into containers or into the garden within about a year. Alternatively, the cuttings can be started in a cold frame or propagating chamber. If all goes to plan, the new Daphne plants may start blooming in as little as 2-3 years.
MORE PICTURES click here...