Daphnes are grown for their lovely scent, and for winter interest as many varieties of the shrub flower in late winter and early spring. Daphnes have a strong, sweet scent and attractive red, pink and white flowers. They are generally evergreen, or semi evergreen, and their foliage is attractive and some varieties have variegated leaves, as in the image to right. Because Daphne has an intense scent, and they are often blooming in the late winter when less of the garden is accessed, it is a good idea to plant Daphne near a path so as to enjoy the scent. The Daphne in the centre image was situated near a sheltered wall alongside a path. The sheltered spot in which this Daphne is grown may well account for its success in terms both of size and the number of blooms on the shrub, it is flowering really well.
Daphnes are fully hardy only really in sheltered gardens, and grow more reliably in the South and West. D. Odora, the Daphne illustrated above left is the most hardy, H4 which is -5-10 although much depends on the position of the plant as it needs a sheltered spot. Daphne is difficult to graft and propagate, which means they are difficult to produce, as a result they tend to be more expensive than some other shrubs. Given the expense, and the fact that Daphnes are tricky to grow, it is important if you do buy one that it is planted in the right place to do well.
Daphnes like moist but well drained soil and will not tolerate either being water logged, or drought. Daphne need a neutral to slightly alkaline soil, if it is sandy add organic matter. A heavy clay soil may not be ideal and the most tolerant of clay soil are Daphne laureola and D. Mezereum. All Daphnes will do best in a sheltered spot with sun, although D laureola will tolerate shade. Daphnes are not suitable to grow in container and dislike being pruned. Avoid pruning unless absolutely necessary and then only after flowering. Daphne are slow growing shrubs, it can take 7-10 years to reach mature size and then only around 3-5 feet depending on the variety. Daphnes are mostly winter or spring flowering.