Ask the master gardeners
Q: How do I grow daphne?
A: With a little attention to detail and care the home gardener should have no trouble growing daphne. And its beautiful variegated foliage and wonderful fragrance certainly make it a great addition to the garden.
Daphne is a semievergreen, broadleaf shrub that grows to about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. A cultivar called ‘Odera’ is considered by many to be the most fragrant, but ‘Carol Mackie’ is also very popular.
Daphne likes partial sun and moist, well-drained soil. To help retain moisture, mulch the plant and let the mulch almost dry out between waterings. It also helps if it is planted on a berm, which will then use gravity to help with drainage.
It is an ideal choice for a rock garden because of its drainage needs, but it thrives also as a specimen plant or as part of a border.
Daphne blooms in the spring and can be pruned, like forsythia, right after blooming. Site it carefully because it does not transplant well. And keep in mind that you want to plant it in a spot where you can enjoy the fragrance.
The berries and leaves of daphne are poisonous, so don’t use this plant if you garden with pets or small children.
With a little attention to site and planting conditions, daphne will reward the gardener for years with beauty and fragrance.
Judie Phillips, master gardener, Cornel Cooperative Extension of Westchester