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Best uses

This wonderful scented shrub is best used around doorways and in beds where the scent and beautiful flowers can be fully appreciated. It does well in mixed shrub plantings and will also grow well in pots.

Physical characteristics

A small growing evergreen shrub growing to 1m tall and 1m wide.

Flowers and foliage

Intensely fragrant pink star-shaped flowers are produced in clusters at the end of the branches from midwinter to late spring. Leaves are dark green, glossy and lanceolate in shape.

Preferred site

Prefers partial shade in well-drained soil.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. Planting after autumn rains when the soil is moist and warm allows shrubs to become established before winter. This enables them to withstand dry periods during the following summer. Before planting ensure that the root-ball is saturated and remove planter bag pot or wrapping with the minimum of root disturbance. Trim any broken roots or branches and plant at the same level as in the container.

Plant in cool lime-free soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Part shade is best for most daphne varieties. All-day direct sun can turn leaves yellow. On the other hand, too much shade will limit their flowering. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball partly backfill with a mix of compost, sheep pellets and your topsoil. Carefully remove the pot and gently plant the daphne firm and water in well once planted. If you do wish to try planting a daphne in heavier soils plant into a slight mound to improve drainage use and add Gypsum to help improve soil structure without changing the pH and add plenty of organic matter. Do your best to plant daphne where it is to remain because they do not like to be disturbed. Limit your choice of sites to those with exceptional drainage and at least three hours of afternoon shade. Crown and root rots threaten daphne in poorly drained locations.

Maintenance tips

The first summer and autumn after planting are critical for young plants; water thoroughly during dry periods. Mulching helps conserve moisture and suppress weeds; organic materials such as sawdust and bark contribute to soil structure as they decompose. Keep mulching material away from plant stems. Except on very fertile soils, an annual light dressing (50g/m2) of general-purpose fertiliser in spring is beneficial. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3cm of the soil taking care not to damage surface roots. Avoid disturbing the roots if possible as they are relatively delicate. In heavier soils root rot can make growing daphne quite difficult so keep an eye on drainage. Pruning should not be required other than to maintain shape occasionally and deadhead old flowers.

Ecological and biodiversity benefits

Its beautiful scent attracts pollinators to the garden.

Pests and diseases

Collar rot can be a problem with daphne, planting in a site with good drainage will help prevent this.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Spring Blossom Valley