Last week I wrote about Edgeworthia, a shrub with fragrant blooms in the winter. Although winter-blooming plants are rare, Edgeworthia is far from the only one. In fact, this week we’ll look at Daphne odora, commonly known as Fragrant or Winter daphne, another shrub that blooms in the winter and packs a powerful and pleasant fragrance, as its common names suggest.
While daphne is one of my favorite plants, I should start by saying it can be a difficult plant to grow. If you’re new to gardening, daphne might not be the plant for you. If you’re a gardening expert it is probably a plant you’ve already killed once or twice before either finally getting it right or giving up. It is temperamental and perhaps a good way to test the level of your gardening skill, but also well worth the effort.
spread, though it is rare to see one that large. Most I’ve encountered have been in the range of 2-3 feet high and wide, or smaller. The foliage is glossy and lustrous green on most plants.
There are several cultivars occasionally found in nurseries that have characteristics slightly different from the species. These include ‘Aureomarginata’, ‘Maejima’, and ‘Shinano Nishiki,’ each of which offers variegated foliage and slightly different shades of pink blooms. ‘Carol Mackie’ is a popular cultivar of a different species of daphne that is no less difficult to grow, yet similarly beautiful. It has white leaf variegation and pale pink flowers that have the expected fragrance.
Matthew Stevens is the County Extension Director and horticulture agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Pitt County Center. If you have any questions about this article or other aspects of your home gardening, please contact the Pitt County Master Gardener Infoline at 252-902-1705.
Photos and information found at NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox: