Daphnes are colourful shrubs, usually blooming in late winter and early spring, though a few bloom in summer.
They’re fantastic plants for small gardens, with various types perfect for different situations, such as in window boxes, large containers, mixed borders, areas of dry shade and gravel gardens. There are both evergreen and deciduous varieties.
Most daphnes bear clusters of small flowers in shades of red or pink and sometimes white or green. These flowers usually open at the end of shoot tips, but on some daphnes you’ll spot them in the leaf joints.
Generally, daphnes need a combination of good moisture and good drainage to thrive. Some varieties develop drought tolerance as they mature.
More about scented plants:
Browse our choice of beautiful daphnes, below.
Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postill’
‘Jaqueline Postill’ is one of the best known daphnes, bearing small pink flowers that are packed with fragrance, in late winter.
Height x spread: 2m x 1.5m.
Daphne laureola subsp. philippi
A dwarf form of the native species with scented flowers, it grows best in moisture retentive soil and partial shade.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm.
Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’
‘Pink Fragrance’ is a prolific, strongly scented evergreen daphne, bearing pink flowers from April to October. Not as drought tolerant as other varieties, it will suffer in summer droughts.
H x S: 90cm x 90cm.
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’
This variety has evergreen leaves edged in cream, blooming in early spring. Surprisingly for a variegated cultivar, it’s hardier than the plain green form.
H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m.
Daphne mezereum var. rubra
A richly coloured form of the deciduous British native. Flowers appear in February and March, followed by red berries.
H x S: 1.2m x 1.2m.
Daphne bholua ‘Darjeeling’
‘Darjeeling’ is the earliest to open of these incredibly frgrant evergreens, bearing blushed white blooms from November to February. Needs moist summer soil.
Height x spread: 3m x 1.5m.
Daphne growing tips
- Most daphnes prefer free-draining soil, though some can be drought tolerant when established
- All are hardy in most parts of the country
- Plant promptly after buying them – don’t allow the plants to become potbound
- Pruning is rarely necessary and can cause dieback, so plants are generally best left alone
- Mulch in autumn with gravel or weed-free humus, to reduce competition from weeds
- Feed with a general fertiliser in early spring, as soon as growth begins
- Daphnes don’t respond well to being moved, so try to position them correctly from the outset