Daphne, sometimes sold under its botanical name Daphne, is a flowering shrub for the garden. A very versatile flowering shrub, as it (in most species) with a maximum growth height of 1.5 meters and its correspondingly narrow growth habit belongs to the shrubs that really fit anywhere. Below you will find out more about the care and types of daphne.

Daphne – a comfortable flowering shrub

The daphne is a flowering shrub with a high ornamental value. Daphne grows as compact shrubs with mostly upright branches. They are available with flowers in many different colors. These flowers appear in early spring, before the leaves. In full bloom, the entire shrub is a cloud of flowers, exuding an intoxicating scent in most species. After flowering, the daphne remains attractive. He is now in full lush green or pale green foliage. The flowers develop into fruits, small balls that turn bright orange-red or red.

Ecologically, daphne is also an asset in the garden: When it opens its nectar-bearing flowers in February, it is the first plant in many gardens to provide food for insects. A daphne can save animal lives in settlements that are otherwise predominantly planted with exotic ornamental shrubs that are of no interest to the animal world.

Daphne attracts the very insects we want to see in abundance in the garden for their environmental benefit or beauty. The aromatic scent attracts bees, bumblebees and various species of butterflies, C moths, Lesser tortoiseshell, peacock butterflies and brimstone butterflies. They get nectar and pollinate the flowers. Due to its attractiveness to bees, the daphne has one of its popular names, the name Zeidlerbusch. It was often used by beekeepers, who used to be called Zeidler, as a bee pasture.

It provides insects with its blooms well into April, when the pea-sized drupes develop in large numbers, it is the turn of the birds, expressly invited by the bright red. The daphne feeds about ten species of birds. Wagtails and various types of warblers and greenfinches, thrushes and robins, some bird species are declining. The birds can eat the berries without any harmful effects and, by dispersing the seeds, ensure the survival of the Daphne, which itself is a protected species.

The care of the daphne

Good news for lazy gardeners and also a very strong argument for a daphne in the garden: Daphne, which is usually sold in stores, hardly needs any care. Here is an overview of his few needs:

  • shady to semi-shady location
  • Plant about half a meter apart
  • Plant in spring or autumn, a time between when the ground is just frost-free and when it will soon be frozen again
  • very frugal plant
  • Daphne tolerates any soil pH from slightly acidic to alkaline
  • Slightly calcareous soils are popular
  • The daphne does not tolerate waterlogging very well
  • most species grow in nature on very permeable soils in mountainous areas
  • Water additionally during longer periods of drought
  • applying a layer of mulch after planting ensures automatic moisture regulation

When preparing the soil for planting, feel free to incorporate a little well-rotted compost or manure into the soil. Once the daphne has grown, it no longer needs fertilizer. It develops roots that go so deep into the ground that it can get its nutrients from the depths. All in all, the daphne in the hybrid forms usually available on the market is an unproblematic and easy-care plant, and cutting care will not overwhelm you either.

To cut

A daphne rarely needs a trim, but trimming is recommended in many cases:

  • If you want to keep the shrub particularly small and compact, you can prune it back as far as appears necessary immediately after flowering.
  • Pruning immediately after flowering is also recommended if Daphne is to become a contender for the most eagerly flowering shrub in the area year after year.
  • Because a daphne always blooms on the very outside of the bush, at the end of the shoots that developed the previous year.
  • If you do not cut back new shoots all over the bush, the new shoots will always develop at the end of the old shoots.
  • The flower then moves more and more outwards (which of course also causes the flowers to move further and further apart).
  • You can prevent this by shortening the existing shoots by around a third every year.
  • If you also cut out some of the oldest shoots at the bottom, you will always have young shoots on the bush.
  • Normally, three or four new shoots will sprout from every thicker branch that you cut.
  • This will make the shrub bushier and bushier if you never thin out at the base, but also too dense.
  • If you have a lot of space in the garden and do not attach great importance to flowers that are close together, you can simply let the daphne grow for a while.
  • Then he gets a makeover cut when he gets out of shape.
  • However, this should be done fairly cautiously and over several years.
  • In many varieties, the plant does not tolerate a radical cut.
  • Especially for a rosemary daphne it can mean the end if you simply “put it on the stick”.

So you have a certain amount of variation in terms of pruning, which variant you choose depends on the spatial conditions and the development of the individual plant.

The varieties of daphne

The daphnes commonly offered in commerce are bred hybrids in which different species may be involved. The most famous hybrids were bred with the participation of the following silk basts:

  • Daphne daphne or Daphne × burkwoodii emerged from D. caucasica and D. cneorum, it is about one meter high and just as wide, the delicate pink flowers have a penetrating scent
  • Daphne × napolitana is a hybrid of D. sericea and D. cneorum, with rich pink to purple flowers
  • Daphne ×houtteana evolved from D. laureola and D. mezereum and accordingly has white to light pink flowers
  • D. × hybrida is called a daphne of D. collina × D. odora, which has pink and purple and a touch of orange color in the flower
  • D. ×transatlantica is a D. collina crossed with D. caucasica, a dream in white with a little bit of pink

All these hybrid daphne are bred in different varieties. New varieties are constantly being created, which are supposed to produce even more intense colors while maintaining the basic undemanding nature of the hybrids. These hybrids have been bred in such a way that they are satisfied with a normal garden soil in our gardens and are unproblematically hardy in our climate.

More species

There are a total of 70 to 90 species of the pretty plants in our world, with homes in Europe, North America and temperate Asia, deciduous and evergreen species. Many of these daphne are cultivated by enthusiasts all over the world, so you can get young plants or seeds of many rare daphne species via the internet (and sometimes also in Germany, via a daphne enthusiastic tree nursery). If you are in the mood for a very special daphne, here is a brief introduction to a few varieties that will whet your appetite:

  • Dulled Daphne, Daphne retusa: Amazes with its large white flowers
  • Alpine daphne, Daphne alpina: Star fragrance for rock gardens
  • Asiatic Rosemary Daphne, Daphne rosmarinifolia: One of the Daphnes with five outer petals, yellow flower
  • Sapling daphne, Daphne arbuscula: pink beauty from Slovakia
  • Daphne daphne, Daphne sericea or D. collina (D. collina sometimes classified as a separate species): Evergreen small shrub with silky hairy leaves and fragrant purple-pink flowers
  • Chinese Daphne, Daphne giraldii: Yellow-flowered daphne that grows naturally on Chinese forest edges
  • Fragrant daphne, Daphne odora: Daphne with large flowers in a delicate rosé and an enchanting scent, available in several cultivars
  • Daphne mezereum, Daphne mezereum: Initially pink, later white, strongly fragrant flowers from February, strong fragrance
  • Rock daphne, Daphne petraea: Endemic from around Lake Garda, very bright pink flowers
  • Striped Daphne or Bald Rockrose, Daphne striata: Red, pink and white in a striped design on the flowers
  • Jasmine-like Daphne, Daphne jasminea: Pink star flowers in abundance
  • Kamchatka daphne, Daphne kamtschatica: Extraordinarily large yellow flowers in an unusual abundance
  • Caucasian daphne, Daphne caucasica: Very small white star-shaped flowers, loose habit, several cultivars
  • King’s daphne, Daphne blagayana: With its large white flowers, it is aptly named
  • Purple Daphne, Daphne genkwa: Delicate lilac and daphne flowering in incredible abundance, e.g. B. in the “Hackenberry Group” breeding very popular
  • Laurel daphne, Daphne laureola: D. laureola subsp. laureola flowers white, D. laureola subsp. philippii yellow, large flowers
  • Nepalese paper daphne, Daphne bholua: Beautiful trendy Daphne with pink flowers and a dreamy scent, several cultivars
  • North Japanese Daphne, Daphne jezoensis: Dwarf Daphne with golden-yellow flowers
  • Olive tree-like daphne, Daphne oleoides or D. buxifolia: Mediterranean daphne with star-shaped white flowers
  • Papyrus Daphne, Daphne papyracea: Large leaves, showy white flowers
  • Pontic Daphne, Daphne pontica: The bright yellow star-shaped flowers are so plentiful that they almost look like panicles
  • Rosemary Daphne, Daphne cneorum: Intense violet flowers that form clusters

That was quite a good selection, although you can get more seeds of Daphne species from specialty nurseries and hobby sites on the Internet. But never forget to inquire very carefully about the needs of each Daphne, because:

The natural forms of Daphne

Raising a wide variety of natural species of Daphne in your own garden is a trend at the moment. There is a lively exchange on the Internet about the needs of the various Daphne species. You should also use this if you want to participate in the trend: Most of the rare daphne species that are particularly sought after by enthusiasts have completely different needs than the hybrids, and they are often much more demanding.

In most cases they grow naturally in the mountains, on permeable and stony soils with little humus cover. The soil warms up very quickly, organic material is constantly being decomposed. Heavier soils for daphne are mostly found in areas that receive little rainfall. The Daphnes have adapted to these site conditions. They have developed a strong root system in order to draw moisture from the depths, they sometimes go into a dormant phase. The wet conditions in our latitudes often lead to problems when cultivating this daphne. Another critical point is that most of these Daphnes do not have very good defenses against fungi. A third problem with the exotic daphne is winter hardiness.


With these rare Daphnes, a topic becomes particularly interesting that the cultivar of normal hybrid daphnees will probably only be of interest if he wants to put several daphnees in his garden (a daphne plant can quickly cost up to €20) – the propagation. Here is an overview:

  • Propagation is possible by sowing and lowering and, in principle, also by cuttings
  • If the desire to obtain a rare Daphne does not force you to propagate cuttings, you should rather put it aside
  • The propagation of cuttings brings the Daphnes to flower faster, but the failure rate is quite high here
  • Sowing is the most popular method, if only because Daphne seeds are shipped all over the world
  • The success rates are good here, however you would need to research depending on the species
  • In the case of the Daphnes, there are three different types of germination that need to be treated differently

As a cultivar of rare Daphne species, you should also familiarize yourself with the art of grafting a Daphne, some rare Daphne can only be propagated by grafting. And when in doubt, propagation is the only way to save a weakening daphne.


The daphne hybrids are actually uncritically winter-hardy, but in cold regions a protective fleece for the roots or a shading net for the whole plant is recommended for freely planted specimens.

In the case of the rare Daphne species, the winter hardiness of each individual species should be explored in detail, many Daphnes are used to quite friendly climates.

Care in the bucket

Daphne can also be kept in a bucket, but of course it cannot develop the deep roots that enable it to be well supplied in the garden soil. So when in doubt, it needs your help, in the event of drought, irrigation and bloom fertilizer during the growing season, in about half the concentration. If it rains longer in summer, the bucket should be placed in between so that the soil can dry out.

Fertilization should be stopped early in the winter so that the Daphne in the bucket stops growing in time. She has to take a break in winter, in a sheltered spot in the house when the temperatures are cool. Only in spring can the daphne in the tub be put back in the garden.

diseases and pests

Neither diseases nor pests are important for the hybrid daphne in the right location.

Rare wild forms of daphne can carry traces of various insects on the shoots. Aphids and crickets, earwigs and cicadas and moth larvae may need to be controlled. Sometimes you also need to learn how to control certain fungi, bacteria and red spider mites, or how to defend against disease-carrying sucking parasites or a viral infestation. Depending on the Daphne species, certain infestation patterns are to be expected. Control must be planned depending on the Daphne species, some daphne species are quite sensitive.

Be careful, Daphne is poisonous

Daphne is highly toxic in all parts of the plant; it is not recommended for households with children and/or pets because its venom has already entered the bloodstream through the skin. Therefore, you should always wear gloves when working on the daphne. If you put the decorative branches in a vase indoors, you should know that the poison will pass into the water in the vase, so exercise appropriate caution. Households with many guests should certainly do without the plant in the vase altogether.

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