One of the sweetest fragrances in the garden has got to be Daphne. It’s a fantastic plant that should find a place in every landscape.
When people think of Daphne, especially Winter Daphne, they typically imagine the sweet scent of the flowers. Bloom time varies between the different varieties, but the most popular types bloom between January and March. These shrubs produce clusters of small white or pink flowers with a very strong fragrance. On sunny winter days the smell of the Daphne flowers can fill the whole yard.
Even when not in bloom, Daphne are lovely plants. Most are evergreen and their leaves are glossy and dark green, blue-green or variegated. Daphne are a nice, small size shrub with most only growing to 3-4′ around. Also, a huge advantage in our area, they are deer resistant.
Planting Daphne in the right place is crucial to them thriving. They want rich soil with good drainage, not the typical clay soil in our area. Be sure to amend your planting site with lots of compost before planting, or put your Daphne in a container to ensure their happiness.
Too much sun is a common problem for Daphne. They need enough light to produce flowers abundantly, but not so much that their leaves scorch. Most varieties are going to prefer sun in the morning with shade in the afternoon. Another good site would provide them with constant dappled sunlight.
The most common problems that Daphne face in Oregon are fungal related. Providing good drainage when planting can help to mitigate these issues. Without good drainage, and/or too much watering, Daphne can be plagued by root rot, crown rot and leaf-spotting. Amend the soil heavily when you plant and your Daphne with thank you for years to come.
Daphne odora ‘Marginata’
Winter Daphne Marginata is one of the most common. It has light pink flowers that open in early spring with a very strong fragrance. The leaves are variegated with a yellow edge.
Size: 4 ft high x 6′ wide
Daphne odora ‘Maejima’
Winter Daphne Maijima is similar to Marginata, but with stronger leaf variegation.
Daphne cneorum – Rock Daphne
Rock Daphne is a dwarf plant that produces clusters of very fragrant, bright pink blooms. Can be a very fastidious variety.
Height: 1 ft tall & 3 ft wide
Daphne transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’
Eternal Fragrance is one of the longest blooming Daphne. It produces a heavy set of fragrant, white to blush blooms in spring and then blooms lightly summer thru fall.
Height: 2-3 ft tall & wide
Daphne x Perfume Princess®
Perfume Princess is a newly introduced variety. It is a cross between Daphne odora and Daphne Bholua. It produces large bunches of flowers with strong fragrance. The dark evergreen foliage grown tight and upright. This Daphne is less fussy than most and has improved sun tolerance. Available with pink or white blooms.
Height: 3-4 ft tall & wide