Brighten up with this beauty

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Tino Carnevale

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

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