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Winter daphne, scientifically known as Daphne odora and belonging to the family Thymelaeaceae, is a fragrant evergreen shrub that blooms once a year in the late winter or early spring. This shrub is a native of western China and has close cousins in parts of Asia, like Japan and the Philippines. Winter daphnes are ornamental shrubs that provide color during the latest part of the winter season. They are also good for covering barren areas of soil that are easily infested with weeds. These shrubs prevent the growth of weeds by outgrowing them, especially when in combination with other low shrubs or trees.
This evergreen shrub grows to a width of 5 feet (1.5 m) and reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) tall. The leaves of the winter daphne are usually solid green, though some leaves have golden edges. Winter daphne flowers have both male and female reproductive organs and are pollinated by bees and flies. The flowers of this plant grow in groups that bloom in solid white or a combination of white, pink, and purple. All parts of the winter daphne plant are poisonous when eaten; for example, the sap can cause skin problems in some people.
Winter daphne can grow in extreme soil conditions such as overly dry, chalky, or muddy soil. Sandy to clay loam soil that is moist and well-drained with a pH level of 6 to 7.5 is ideal. This shrub is quite hardy, with the ability to thrive in both hot climates and shady areas.
Mold is a problem for this shrub. To help prevent the growth of mold, a grown and established winter daphne must not be heavily watered during the dryer seasons. During extreme heat or consecutive days of hot weather, the plant should be watered lightly. Watering the winter daphne this way also encourages blossoming for the following year. The winter daphne may be fertilized once every year right after its bloom.
Open daphne flowers have a stronger scent than closed ones. Cool water must be readily available to ensure that the fragrance stays as long as possible. After picking, each flower stem must be rid of leaves where they will be submerged in water. Leaves under the waterline are quick to disintegrate and can cause water stagnation. Sharp scissors ensure that the stem is cut cleanly, making the flow of water up the stem smoother, thus making the flower last longer.