Even if you don’t know Daphne, you probably know Daphne

If you think late winter and early spring have a distinct smell in the Pacific Northwest, you’re right—that intensely sweet fragrance so common around here is Daphne odora; many will tell you it’s a favorite of theirs, even if they don’t know its name!

Daphnes typically have pink flowers, although some varieties have white ones; they also have narrow, lanceolate waxy green leaves with a creamy color margin. (By the way, “lanceolate” is just a fancy way of saying something has a narrow oval shape, tapering to a point at each end.)

If you’re a fan, you don’t have to simply hope you encounter Daphnes when you’re out and about—they are great additions to your garden! They’re relatively low maintenance, don’t require much water, and they are deer-resistant, too.

Want to plant your own? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Daphnes prefer morning sun and light shade. Planting in well-draining soil is important, because they are susceptible to root rot if the soil remains too wet.
  • They don’t need much pruning, except for the occasional random shoot.
  • Once established, they are drought-tolerant—but they also do NOT like to be transplanted. So be sure to plant in a spot where you won’t need to move it!
  • Note that all parts of Daphnes are poisonous.
  • Fall is a great time for planting Daphnes.

Check out a few of the readily available Daphne varieties below. And be sure to get in touch if you’d like coaching to get the most enjoyment out of your garden!

Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata’

One of the more widely grown varieties, the Aureo-marginata typically grows to about 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It has cinnamon-colored stems and leaves that are 3-4 inches.

The Maejima variety has wider creamy margins—but it has the same sweet fragrance. For those who love variegated foliage (leaves that are edged or patterned in a second color), this one’s for you!


Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’

Her leaves and blossoms are smaller those of the Areo-marginata and Maejima so she offers a softer texture to the garden. A nice companion to Rhododendrons. This Daphne is smaller in stature, 3’ ht x 4’ wide.


Daphne cneorum

I love this little Daphne, it’s so cute! Unlike the larger varieties, this little gem likes full sun. It’s grows 6 – 12” tall and is typically grown in rock gardens. It also is drought tolerant. Shear after blooming to maintain its mounding form.