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Plant Profile: Variegated Winter Daphne (Daphne odora Aureo-marginata’)

Daphne odora aureo marginata 5Be prepared for a princess with this shrub but it’ worth it. In late winter or early spring the shrub bears clusters of pink to white to red flowers that have an incredible fragrance. Small fruits follow the flowers in summer and all year long the green leaves edged with gold provide color in the garden. Since it thrives in dappled or part shade it can be planted underneath small deciduous trees such as Japanese maples with Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) and early blooming bulbs such as Crocus tommasinianus or Cyclamen coum. Daphne also can be grown successfully in containers so makes a good patio plant where its fragrance can be enjoyed on the warm sunny days of early spring. Why did I call it a princess? No matter how much you pamper it, this plant may suddenly die for no apparent reason.

Type: Broad-leaf evergreen shrub.

Outstanding Feature: Early fragrant flowers.

Form: Compact mound

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Bloom: Clusters of white, pink, red to purple tubular flowers in mid-winter to early spring.

Size: 3-5’ H x 5’ W

Light: Part sun to part shade; morning sun especially desirable.

Soil: Fertile, humus-rich, well-drained slightly acid soil; drought tolerant once established.

Fertilizer: Apply a handful of all-purpose organic fertilizer in March. Apply mulch in spring to protect roots from summer heat.

Hardiness: Zones 7-8.

Care: Tip prune as flowers fade to encourage bushiness.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to viruses that cause leaf mottling.

Propagation: Semi-ripe cuttings in summer.

Comments: Deer resistant; resents transplanting;  short lived (8-10 years).

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