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Daphne bholua - Winter, Spring Fragrant Shrubs

There are not too many shrubs that can match the Daphnes for fragrance - especially in later winter and spring. Daphne are notoriously hard to get established, and it is important to make sure the position is right; because they do not transplant well! For that reason alone, it is always best to buy them as established container-grown plants - rather than root-balled and certainly not bare root, though young plants can be grown from bare root plantings.

The Daphne shrubs for this page are all from the group of Daphne bholua. These are much easier to establish in the garden than others, and have the advantage of having highly scented flowers in late winter and early spring. Some are deciduous, some semi-evergreen and some fully evergreen. None are densely so. All are upright in growth habit and do not match their height with spread!

In most winters they are reliably hardy - if grown in the right spot! More later.

As this is being written - March 2016 - there is news of a super-duper hybrid of Daphne bholua, but from the images available, not too different from a few varieties on here.

Flowering branch of Dapne bholua Jacqueline PosthillWhere to Grow Daphne bholua

The best Daphne bholua I have seen (Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'), are those growing either in dappled shade of a woodland area, or sheltered by a warm wall - but not forever in direct sun. When photographing these I have been overwhelmed by the gorgeous fragrance of these winter and spring flowering shrubs - and have had many visitors following their noses to the scent!

This group of Daphne are tolerant of a wide range of soil types - slightly acid or alkaline - but prefer well drained soils, and certainly not waterlogged in winter.

Sheltered spots away from scorching winds are desirable. Follow those few guidelines and there should be no problem with longevity. Also avoid frost pockets which can spoil the flowers a little. I have also seen a good one atop a rock garden.

Container Plants

Relatively maintenance free so well suited to large container, where they can be wheeled out to a desirable place on the patio when in flower. Ensure that the pot is not in full sun during the summer months - keep pot and soil cool.

These varieties are from the Himalayas - so hardy in the right situation.

Types of Daphne bholua

  • Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' AGM - as shown in the image - Evergreen with upright growth habit. Will start budding and flowering in late winter through to spring. Very fragrant purplish pink flower clusters fading to white. Attractive pointed foliage, which is not overbearing. height to around 2m after several years. Grow in sheltered position. One of the most popular, so place your order early and buy from a reliable source to avoid disappointment with delivery.
  • Daphne bholua 'Gurkha' AGM - similar to the above, but is fully deciduous and with pink flower clusters on bare branches in winter and spring. 'Gurkha' gives a clue to its natural habitat. Height to 1.5m over 10 years. Not as highly scented as 'Jacqueline Postill' but still more fragrant than most shrubs.

Problems with Daphne bholua

Aphids are something of a problem in late spring, early summer. The Daphne bholua types do not seem to suffer from the grey mould (botrytis) which affects some.

Leaf spots are sometimes encountered but not too much of a problem

Pruning Daphne bholua

Pruning of Daphne is rarely necessary and should only be carried out if rally imperative. Right after flowering ceases in late spring. Best to just take out dead or crossing branches. 

Propagation of Daphne bholua

Seed - if available can be germinated in cold frame - but assorted cuttings are best way forward. Semi ripe cuttings in late summer or softwood cuttings in early summer. The semi ripe are less likely to fail.


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