Native to southern China, Vietnam and Taiwan, this broadleaf evergreen shrub is a member of the Thymelaeaceae, a plant family of just under 900 species, most of which are unfamiliar to North American gardeners. The plant grows 4-6′ tall, has a mounding habit, and is densely branched. The shiny leathery dark green leaves are 2-4″ long, elliptic to oblong, and crowded at the end of the branches. In late winter or early spring, 1″ wide terminal clusters of rosy-purple to pink, tubular flowers appear. The flowers are fleshy, have four spreading lobes and are very fragrant. The flowers give way to a showy red drupes in summer but they are rarely found on cultivated plants. The outstanding fragrance of C. odora makes it a great choice for a patio plant or fragrance garden. Its early bloom time makes it a good choice for a winter garden in USDA hardiness Zones 8 and 9. The attractive foliage of winter Daphne recommends its use as a specimen as well as in borders, foundation plantings, and woodland gardens. The genus name, Daphne, honor a nymph of Greek mythology associated with fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of freshwater. The specific epithet, odora, is from the Latin word odor meaning scent.

Type: Broadleaf evergreen shrub

Outstanding Feature: Fragrant flowers, early bloom time

Form: Mound

Growth Rate: Slow

Bloom: Terminal clusters of very fragrant, rosy-purple to pink tubular flowers in late winter or early spring

Size: 3-6′ H x 2-4′ W

Light: Full sun (with afternoon shade in areas with hot summers)

Soil: Humusy, consistently moist, well-drained; moderately salt tolerant

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: May be difficult to establish; resents transplanting; prune lightly immediately after flowering to prevent legginess

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to damage from  botrytis, leaf spots, canker, twig blight, crown rot, root rot and virus, aphids, mealybugs and scale. Plants are short lived and known for suddenly dying.

Propagation:  Softwood cuttings and semi-ripe cuttings in mid or late summer; grafting in late winter, layering

Outstanding Selections:

D. odora f. rosacea (white and pink flowers)

D. odora f. rubra (dark red-pink flowers with less fragrance)

‘Aureomarginata’ (yellow variegation; hardier than species)

‘Marginata’: (variegated)

‘Mae-jima’ (variegated, with a wide band of cream to yellow color) 

‘Shinano Nishiki’ (3 color variegation; pink flowers)

Comment: All parts of the plant are poisonous

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen