Daphne odora

The fragrant daphne shrub is a broadleaf evergreen that belongs to the Thymelaeaceae family. It is a densely-branched, woody shrub that typically grows to be 2-4 feet wide and 4-6.5 feet tall. Native to southern China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, this plant is well adapted to thrive in sun to part shade environments with moist, well-drained soil that can dry out between waterings.

Daphne is moderately salt-tolerant and can be easily propagated from stem cuttings. To avoid leggy growth, cut back the plant after it has finished flowering. Though daphne plants generally last only three or four years, their showy and deeply fragrant flowers in pink, lavender, or white appear in mid-to-late winter before the glossy leaves. The shrub’s red or black fruits can be seen at times, rounding out year-round interest.

The fragrant daphne works well in a variety of settings, including woodland or container gardens, as a specimen plant, or as part of a foundation planting. It is also a great addition to butterfly, pollinator, or winter gardens.

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: moderately fertile, well-drained, humus-rich soil
  • Rate of growth: slow-growing
  • Flowering period: January to March
  • Hardiness: borderline hardy (may need winter protection)Lustrous, deep green leaves provide a handsome silhouette throughout the year, but it is for the small clusters of highly scented flowers that this rounded, evergreen shrub is most highly prized. Appearing in mid-winter, they open from purple-pink buds to reveal their pale pink petals, which usually have a richer pink reverse. Plant it somewhere that you pass-by regularly to make sure you can enjoy their delicious scent.
  • Garden care: Keep pruning to a minimum since the plant is susceptible to die-back. Where necessary after flowering, lightly trim to remove misplaced branches and maintain a compact habit.