Daphne (Daphne odora)

Winter-flowering daphne is a charming evergreen shrub to grow to bring colour and fragrance to gardens in winter. Daphne can also be grown in a container.

It is a bit of a finicky plant but, grown where all its special needs are met, it should do well and produce those much-admired heads of scented pink (or white) flowers. Plants also grow from cuttings taken in summer when new growth hardens off.

Look for daphne plants in flower in your local hardware or garden centres during winter and early spring for a variety to suit you. Here are a few to consider:

  • Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ is a hybrid daphne, which is more tolerant of a range of garden conditions and flowers well into spring with large heads of pink, fragrant flowers.
  • Daphne ‘Perfume Princess White’ has star shaped, large white flowers with pink buds, nested amongst glossy, evergreen leaves. It is an upright plant which makes a great specimen plant. Plant in full sun or part shade its lovely scent makes it ideal planted near a path or door.
  • Daphne ‘Enternal Fragrance’ with a compact habit to around 60cm makes it ideal mass planted as a hedge or on its own in a pot. This daphne produces tight clusters of classic white flowers at the tips of its deep green foliage.

Growing conditions

Aspect Daphne needs morning sun and afternoon shade (especially in summer), protected from strong winds.. It is ideally grown in an east-facing garden bed. Avoid dense shade, which will inhibit flowering.

Soil Daphne must have very well-drained, rich, slightly acidic soil but should not be planted in dry soil. In a container, use a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix. If planting in the ground, dig in well-rotted compost or manure and/or Seasol Super Compost as part of soil preparation. In areas with poor drainage, grow in raised garden beds (raised at least 30cm) or in large containers (but keep well-watered).

Climate Daphne grows best in cool to temperate climates. It will tolerate cold nights and light frost.‘Perfume Princess’ will tolerate subtropical conditions.

How to grow and look after Daphne for beautiful scented blooms

General care

Watering Daphnes don’t like wet feet so check the soil before watering. Water regularly and more frequently if plants are in hot, dry or exposed conditions or if they are growing in containers.

Feeding and mulching Feed throughout the seasons using a complete fertiliser for flowering plants such as Seasol plus Nutrients Roses & Flowers. Supplement feeding with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers  every 2 to 4 weeks. Plants in containers can be liquid fed every 2 to 4 weeks while they are growing and flowering. Apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES Roses & Flowers or PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives. Regular applications of Seasol also assist drought hardiness and disease resistance.

Use organic mulch such as sugarcane mulch, lucerne or peas straw around the bush.

Pruning Lightly prune off spent flowers before new growth appears or just leave unpruned.

Watch out Daphnes are susceptible to virus disease and root rot. To have a long-lived plant, meet the plant’s ideal soil conditions and aspect. Plants that are affected by disease usually develop a slightly wilted appearance, leathery or yellowing leaves as the plant dies back. Replant a new daphne in a new location or in a container.

Daphnes may also be affected by scale. If there are only a few present, remove them with your hands (wear gloves) and squash them. If the infestation is too great, scale can be treated with a pest oil such as EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray. When spraying the foliage follow the directions on the back of the pack and spray both sides of the foliage. Repeat applications may be needed for further control. Remember not to spray when beneficial insects and bees are around.