Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'
We like this plant! It has pretty leaves and a wonderful spring fragrance. The first place you can find it is near the coach park where the fragrance in March will guide you towards the shop. Inside the Garden, the hexagonal beds outside Weather Hill Cottage are undergoing a transformation, but on the right hand side, as you walk down the hill, you can find a great example of this plant hanging over the path. It also grows in the Family Garden, in the Wild Garden and on Battleston Hill.
- Common name
- None known
- Height & spread
- 1.5m (5ft) high and wide
- Evergreen shrub
- Moderately fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil
- Full shade to open
- Hardy in some areas, may require protection in winter
Daphne as a genus consists of about 50 deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen species, from Europe, North Africa and Asia. Their natural habitats range from lowland woodlands to mountains. Plants at higher altitudes in its native range are often deciduous while plants from lower altitudes are evergreen but less hardy.
Daphnes are invariably grown for their delightfully fragrant flowers, which most have in abundance, but some are grown for their foliage, fruit or upright, rounded or prostrate habit.
There are many species and cultivars in cultivation, and some are at their best in the depths of winter, when there is little else to compete with.
Of the deciduous cultivars D. bholua var. glacialis 'Gurkha' displays pink-flushed white flowers. Another daphne that flowers without the obstruction of leaves is D. mezereum, or mezereon as it is sometimes called. A flush of colour appears in late winter through into early spring before the leaves begin to grow. The purplish pink blooms, or white in the case of D. mezereum f. alba, cover the spreading stems that can reach up to 1.2m (4ft).
Daphne odora is a rounded evergreen shrub and another wonderfully scented example that flowers in the winter and early spring. It has clusters of white flowers edged with carmine and darkly glossy evergreen leaves. The cultivar 'Aureomarginata' AGM has leaves with narrow, irregular yellow margins.
There are many other species of daphne including D. tangutica, D. sericea, D. pontica and D. petraea, some of which have been awarded the AGM. The hardiness varies as well as the leaf retention, flowering period and shade tolerance.
Daphnes grow well in borders or in woodland settings and once planted do not like to be moved. They will also perform well in containers. To gain the maximum pleasure from growing daphnes, plant them near paths and buildings where both the sight and scent of their flowers can be easily admired and appreciated.
The inner bark of the daphne can be used to make good quality paper, and rope. All parts of the plant are poisonous and skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.
Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'
From China and Japan, this is a rounded, evergreen shrub with inversely lance-shaped to narrowly oval, leathery, glossy, deep green leaves, to 8cm (3in) long.
It bears fragrant, deep purple-pink and white flowers, to 1.5cm (1/2 in) across, in terminal, sometimes axillary clusters of 10-15 or more, from midwinter to early spring. These are followed by fleshy, spherical red fruit.
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ AGM has leaves with narrow, irregular yellow margins, and red-purple flowers, paler and sometimes almost white within.
- Daphne prefers a cool lime-free well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position.
- It succeeds in neutral soils and tolerates partial shade. Some species also succeed in quite deep shade. At least some forms, especially the sub-species D. bholua var. glacialis tolerate alkaline soils. It flowers well when grown in dry shade, and likes plenty of moisture in the growing season.
- It grows well in London, tolerating the atmospheric pollution. Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible. Keep pruning to a minimum.
- Aphids, leaf spot, grey mould (Botrytis) and viruses may be a problem.
- Seed is best sown in a glasshouse as soon as it is ripe with the pot sealed in a polythene bag to hold in the moisture. Remove this bag as soon as germination takes place.
- Germination should normally take place by spring, though it sometimes takes a further year. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in spring after the last expected frosts.
- Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel can be taken in June or July and put in a frame.
- Propagation may also be achieved by the division of suckers or layering.
The RHS Woody Plant Committee awarded Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ AGM an Award of Garden Merit for its scented flowers and variegated foliage.