Daphne Shrubs Profile

Written by Iris

Aug 03 2021

Daphne Shrubs Profile
Daphne Shrubs is named after the Greek nymph. Daphne is a fragrant plant with attractive dark green and glossy leaves and brightly colored berries. Bushes of Daphne is about 1 to 4 feet (30.5 centimeters -- 1.2 meters) tall and Daphne has fragrant clusters of white, yellow, lavender or pink flowers. It is a good choice to grow one of these lovely deciduous, evergreen shrubs in your garden. About 75 to 90 species of daphne grow worldwide. Be careful with Daphne, however, as all parts of it are poisonous, especially the berries.

Daphne Picture

 Daphne Shrubs

Daphne info

 Botanical Name  Daphne spp., Daphne x hybrids
 Common Name  Daphne
 Plant Type  Broadleaf evergreen shrub
 Mature Size  1–5 feet tall, 2–6 feet across (depends on variety)
 Sun Exposure  Full sun to part shade
 Soil Type  Moist, well-draining soil
 Soil pH  5.5–6.4 (slightly acidic)
 Bloom Time  Spring

Ecological Habits of the Daphne

Daphnes prefer to be grown in partial shade or full sun. Daphne laureola will however tolerate full shade. D. bholua varieties, D. pontica and D. odora varieties may well do best in partial shade particularly where their roots are shaded from full sun. Daphnes thrive in well drained moisture retentive soils and detest waterlogged positions as well as areas of the garden which are very dry. Both may well result in quick fatalities as the roots will either rot in the wet or die back in drought conditions. Where your garden is prone to drying out, and the soil is thin, watering is essential in dry periods.
Daphne Shrubs

Daphne Distribution Area

Daphne is a Eurasian genus, being native to central and southern Europe and Asia,from Britain to Japan. Some species are also found in north Africa. Two species, D. mezereum and D. laureola, have been introduced into North America.


The genus name Daphne comes from the Greek language and also means laurel.
The expression Daphne for the real laurel goes back to the Greek mythology.
Apollo, the son of Zeus, had fallen in love with the beautiful river nymph Daphne. Daphne was tired of his intense requests and begged her father, the river god Peneios, he may help her. Peneios turned Daphne into a laurel tree, so that Apollo could not find her.
Daphne Shrubs

How to grow and care for Daphne

How to Grow Daphne

  • With Seeds
After removing the fleshy exterior, you should sow seeds in a pot filled with compost and added grit. Provide a sheltered, shady, and cool place for the pot and wait approximately two years to your seeds germinate.
  • With Cuttings
Growing from cuttings is preferred to growing from seed, though both are tricky. While it is possible to begin daphne odora from seed, it could take years before you get a big and strong enough shrub to put outside and even more time to get flowers.
With cuttings, start with around a 6-inch branch from an existing, healthy shrub. Dip the cutting into a rooting hormone, and then plant in a pot with rich soil and compost. Keep the cutting lightly watered for the next couple of months. You can gently tug on the cutting after a few weeks to see if roots are established. Then you can try transplanting it to its permanent location in a shady area.
  • With Grafting
This method includes combining daphne shrub sprout with the roots of another plant. That will provide vigor and resilience to your shrub. The best time for this is late winter. However, this task is highly demanding, and the better solution is to purchase already grafted plant on a rootstock.

How to Care for Daphne

  • Light
Daphne needs the partial sun and enough shade during hot afternoons in summer.
  • Soil
Daphne shrubs fare best in extremely well-drained soil with a neutral pH. They can grow in loam or sand. Adding mulch to help keep the soil cool and conserve moisture also helps daphnes.
  • Water
Your Daphne needs the damp ground to bloom abundantly. Water your shrub regularly, especially during summer, when there is not enough rainfall.
  • Temperature and Humidity
Daphne shrubs can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. These shrubs accept high humidity levels, though they may be susceptible to fungal leaf spots.
  • Fertilizer
A controlled-release fertiliser for acid-loving plants should be applied twice a year, in early spring and early autumn. This can be supplemented with a water-soluble plant food, again for acid lovers, from mid-spring to late summer to keep plants healthy. A yearly application of iron chelates (as per label directions) after flowering may also be beneficial to the overall health of the plant.
  • Pruning
Daphne shrub doesn't require hard pruning, and this activity shouldn't become a part of annual plant care. You just need to cut it to make some corrections when necessary. Do it in early spring if you grow winter varieties.
Daphne Shrubs

Uses of Daphne

Medicinal Use

The flowers and the stems are anodyne, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, depurative and ophthalmic. A decoction is used in the treatment of backache, myalgia, skin diseases, poor vision etc. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of laryngitis and sore throats. A decoction of the roots and leaves is used in the treatment of sore throat and caked breast.

Other Uses

The flowers are very fragrant, they are put in sachets and used for pot-pourri. They are also used to perfume water. The cultivar "Aureo-marginata" can be used as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way.
Daphne Shrubs

Varieties of Daphne

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ RHS AGM – an upright growing evergreen shrub with pink and white very fragrant flowers
Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’ – a compact, semi-evergreen shrub with richly scented, pale-pink blooms. As the flowers are produced on new growth, it keeps flowering from spring through to late autumn
Daphne mezereum – a shade-loving woodland shrub that will also tolerate full sun provided its roots never dry out. The clusters of pink, lilac and violet flowers appear on bare stems in late winter, fading as the new spring foliage appears
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ RHS AGM – the evergreen leaves have delicate yellow borders that offset deep red flowers in early spring
Daphne laureola – also known as spurge laurel, this species daphne has pale green scented flowers in late winter and early spring, followed by black fruit

Daphne Common Pests/Diseases

Daphne are unlikely to suffer and problem with pests however, if you notice an aphid attack then it is best to treat it as soon as possible. The reason is that they can quickly encourage and spread fungal diseases.
The main disease of Daphne are fungal infections and general ill health causing browning or yellowing of leaves. These are almost always caused by environmental factors, the key on being too much or too little watering. Get the moisture correct at the roots and your Daphne should be problem free.
They are also susceptible to Honey Fungus but this is not specific to Daphne, so are many shrubs. If they are affected by this fungus it's best to remove the shrub and plant something which can resist it.
Daphne Shrubs


All parts of daphnes are toxic, the berries being particularly so. One active compound is daphnin, a glycoside, combining glucose with daphnetin. Some species have been shown to contain a further toxin, mezerein. Symptoms of ingestion include burning sensations and lesions of the mouth and upper digestive tract, gastroenteritis and diarrhoea, and in severe cases, damage to the kidneys (nephritis), irregular heart rhythm, and coma.

Daphne Companion Plants

Daphne looks good planted in a mixed shrub border or with tall growing perennials such as peonies and baptisia. You can also plant daphne near walkways, windows and patios to enjoy the sweet fragrance in spring. Daphne is also an attractive woodland plant when grown in filtered light under tall deciduous trees. Often woodland plantings are more protected from winter winds as well as the intense summer sun.