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Daphne Odora - Fragrant Winter Daphne - for Dry Shade

Daphne odora, Fragrant Winter Daphne…mmm—the fragrance is just lovely. If you’ve never had the pleasure of approaching a Winter Daphne shrub in bloom, just imagine a bowl full of fresh lemons, sliced, right beneath your nose. It isn’t an overpowering scent, or strongly perfumey; it’s just a fresh, clean, lemony scent. The first time I saw it, we were at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the shrub was not in bloom. It was so cute, we just had to find one for ourselves, but it took awhile. Daphne is an evergreen small shrub, reaching only 3-4 feet in height, and the leaves are variegated—deep green with a creamy yellow margin around each one. Blooms come in either pink or white. Daphne odora isn’t easily found, probably because it has a reputation for being difficult to grow. Really, it isn’t, if you know what it likes. Daphne will not tolerate wet soil. It needs very little water. That isn’t a problem for us right now, but when it does rain, clay soil will remain soggy, so amend the soil when you plant. Daphne prefers shady conditions. The perfect spot would be beneath large trees on an incline for good drainage. Mix in some soil conditioner or compost and builder’s sand, and plant high—with the top of the root ball slightly above ground level. Then mulch well to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Water the shrub when you plant it, but don’t worry about watering it again. Can you believe it’s that easy? Yes, it is.

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