Daphne – Grow Guide

How to grow daphnes

Discover all you need to know about growing fragrant daphnes, in our step-by-step Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Prune
Prune

Do not Prune in January

Do not Prune in February

Do not Prune in March

Do not Prune in April

Do not Prune in May

Do Prune in June

Do Prune in July

Do Prune in August

Do not Prune in September

Do not Prune in October

Do not Prune in November

Do not Prune in December

Daphnes are guaranteed to lift your spirits in the depths of winter.

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When there’s not much else in flower and you catch an amazing scent, it’s mostly likely to be from the beautiful flowers of a daphne. They’re an ideal shrub for smaller gardens and work well near paths and doorways where the sweet fragrance of the flowers can be appreciated. Most are evergreen, too, providing extra colour and structure. They also make good cut flowers and the scent intensifies when brought indoors.

Take a look at our handy daphne grow guide, below.

When there’s not much else in flower and you catch an amazing scent, it’s mostly likely to be from the beautiful flowers of a daphne.

Planting Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'
Planting Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

Where to plant daphnes

Daphnes are woodland shrubs and need a spot in dappled shade. If possible, plant your daphne near a door or pathway, to catch the stunning scent as you pass by each day.

Daphne mezereum in flower
Daphne mezereum in flower

How to plant daphnes

Make sure the soil is light and free-draining. If your soil is heavy clay, try a raised bed filled with plenty of garden compost and leaf mould.

Follow our step-by-step guide to planting evergreen shrubs.

Smaller species of daphne can be grown successfully in containers if you pay attention to adding plenty of drainage and choose a pot deep enough to accommodate the roots.

Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Daphne care

Daphnes have a reputation for being tricky to grow. However once established, they should flower reliably, providing they’re not disturbed.

They only required minimal pruning – if you’re cutting flowering stems to bring indoors, this should suffice, plus a little trim in summer to remove any damaged stems or any that spoil the overall shape of the shrub.

Protect during longer periods of cold weather with a generous mulch and cover with horticultural fleece.

Water regularly, but don’t overwater – daphnes don’t like extremes of drought or cold, damp roots. Apply a generous mulch in spring and autumn to feed and protect the roots.

It’s worth noting that daphne is highly toxic if eaten and the sap can irritate skin and eyes, so handle with care.

Propagating a daphne by layering
Propagating a daphne by layering

Propagating daphnes

Daphnes can be grown from seed, but this is a very long-winded process and isn’t as reliable as taking semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. Daphnes can also be propagated by layering.

Follow our guide to taking semi-ripe cuttings.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

Daphne: problem solving

Root rot, usually due to poor drainage, is one of the most common problems. Make sure the right soil conditions are right and don’t overwater. Yellowing foliage or die back can be caused by lack of nutrients in the soil or waterlogging.

Daphnes can also succumb to honey fungus, phytopthora root rot and fungal leaf spot as well as virus infections.

Daphnes don’t respond well to hard pruning.

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Daphne x transatlantica 'Pink Fragrance'
Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’

Daphnes to try

  • Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ RHS AGM – an upright growing evergreen shrub with pink and white very fragrant flowers
  • Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’ – a compact, semi-evergreen shrub with richly scented, pale-pink blooms. As the flowers are produced on new growth, it keeps flowering from spring through to late autumn
  • Daphne mezereum – a shade-loving woodland shrub that will also tolerate full sun provided its roots never dry out. The clusters of pink, lilac and violet flowers appear on bare stems in late winter, fading as the new spring foliage appears
  • Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ RHS AGM – the evergreen leaves have delicate yellow borders that offset deep red flowers in early spring
  • Daphne laureola – also known as spurge laurel, this species daphne has pale green scented flowers in late winter and early spring, followed by black fruit