Daphne (Daphne odora)
Daphne [DAFF-nee] shrubs come to us from all over the world. While there are a variety of types and sizes of daphnes, as a group they are valued for of their handsome foliage, compact habit and fragrant flowers. The most strongly scented daphne shrub of all is Fragrant Daphne. Also called Winter Daphne, it is especially popular in the South. Northern homeowners appreciate its evergreen leaves that decorate their yards all winter. These shrubs are tricky to care for, and are not very long lived.
Size: Mature fragrant daphnes are typically about 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. They grow at a slow to medium rate, forming upright shoots at first. Eventually these mature, spreading broadly in the shape of a low mound. With age the stems become weak and woody, deteriorating in health and appearance. Few daphne shrubs live more than 10 years.
Foliage: Fragrant daphne leaves are from 1 to 3 inches long. The evergreen is lance-shaped, a dark, and glossy green, they have grayish undersides. One fragrant daphne variety has variegated leaves that are green with yellow edges.
Flowers and Fruit: The flowers of fragrant daphne appear in the late winter or early spring. Either deep pink or white, depending on the variety, they grow in small clusters about 1 inch wide at the tips of the branches. They are very fragrant. Often in hot, dry summers fragrant daphne shrubs produce small, yellow berries. All parts of this shrub are poisonous.
Better Varieties: Outside of the South the most satisfactory variety of fragrant daphne is `Aureo-Marginata', a variegated form with yellow-edged leaves. It blooms in late spring, often through to early summer. Its purplish-pink trumpet-shaped flowers grow in small clusters. They have the strong fragrance characteristic of this shrub. This variety is slightly smaller than average. It is more widely available commercially than many other daphnes.
For more information see file on Selecting Shrubs.