How to grow Daphne’s!
All you need to know
Daphne are grown for their beautiful and intensely fragrant blooms which are usually produced in winter or spring. They are best planted near paths and doorways or at the front of borders where it is easy to enjoy their heady fragrance when in flower. Some have attractive foliage or berries as well.
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Daphnes do best on well-drained, moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil. They will not tolerate drought or waterlogging. Contrary to popular belief not all Daphne require an acid soil (see below), in fact some alpine varieties dislike acid soils. But some of the larger leaf varieties can be give an acid feed if they are showing signs of yellowing on leaves.
They will establish best when planted in spring.
On sandy soils incorporate organic matter and on heavy soils plant in a raised bed. Daphne laureola and D. mezereum are more tolerant of heavier soils than other daphnes.
Neutral to slightly alkaline soil suits most species. D. mezereum is the most chalk tolerant. D. arbuscula AGM, D. blagayana, D. pontica AGM and D. tangutica AGM demand more lime-free conditions.
Choose an open, sunny, well-drained situation in the garden for dwarf alpine species such as D. arbuscula AGM, D. cneorum and D. genkwa. Grow others including D. bholua, D. blagayana, D. mezereum, D. odora, D. pontica AGM and D. tangutica AGM in a sheltered position in partial shade, or in sun if roots are kept shaded. D. laureola will grow in deep shade and even tolerates dry shade under trees once established.
Most daphnes are reliably hardy in sheltered gardens. D. mezereum and D. odora are good choices for cold gardens. D. bholua will not tolerate temperatures below -5ºC for prolonged periods. Mulch in spring with well-rotted organic matter to keep the roots cool, but keep the mulch away from the stem.
Established plants should not be moved.
Growing in containers
Daphnes are deep-rooting and many, other than the smaller alpine species, may not thrive in containers.
If growing a daphne in a container, choose a deep container and use a mix of equal parts John Innes No 3, multipurpose compost (including peat-free) and coarse sharp sand. In fact most successful pot grown Daphne will look a little odd in the pot as the pot will seem too large for the plant.
Roots need to be kept cool, so place containers where they will not get baked in hot sun. Light coloured pots are best.
Top dress, replacing the top 5cm (2in) of potting media in early spring, and apply a foliar feed two or three times during the growing season – April to September.