Brighten up with this beauty
THERE are some things in this world that have the ability to brighten even the darkest moods on the bleakest of winter’s days. For me, the crisp, sweet smell of a daphne bush in fl ower is one of these.
There are many plants that are in the genus daphne but the most common to us is Daphne Odora, a name which translates to fragrant laurel.
There are a few forms of Odora but the one we are most well- acquainted with is the one our grandmothers grew, white star fl owers with a pink fl ush.
There is also a form that has a variegated leaf, one with a golden leaf margin and another form called Alba which has a pure white fl ower.
Daphne Odora is a small semi- compact shrub reaching about 1m with about the same spread.
In my experience, getting the light conditions right is the most important factor when growing Daphne Odora, part shade is the key.
An easterly facing aspect is ideal as they love the gentle morning sun but will stress in the harsh afternoon sun.
In saying this, I have successfully grown them in full sun in the past and most years they are OK, however, when we have a scolding summer a plant in full sun will suffer.
There are some new forms of daphne that are commonly available, such as Eternal Fragrance, which thrive in full sun.
Although they aren’t Odora they still smell fantastic.
They are more compact than Odora and will fl ower in winter but can also spot- fl ower through the warmer months.
This is a great plant but in this gardener’s opinion nothing compares to the classic.
Daphne grows best in fertile, slightly acidic soil that is well- drained – they tend not to like boggy conditions.
They do not cope well with too much root disturbance so never tease the roots of young plants when planting.
I like to cultivate the soil deeply before planting and I always take care when working around the root zones of established plants.
When planting I like to add a bit of coir fi bre to the soil and I continue to add a couple of handfuls to the top of the soil every year or so.
I feed my daphne twice a year with a complete organic fertiliser, once in autumn before fl owering and again in spring to get the most out of the growth period. Scale insect is the main pest problem when it comes to daphne and usually appears when a plant has been stressed or is getting on in age.
Like many of the best things in life, daphne will not last forever.
In fact, they are fairly short- lived, with an average life span of about six to 10 years, so having a successional planting plan is a good idea.
Daphne is a plant well- suited to our colder climate, it is a great addition to your garden and will make the winter period that little bit brighter.
Getting the light conditions right is the most important factor