Content Detail

February daphne is a dense, rounded shrub with highly fragrant, rosy-lilac flowers in early spring. Small red fruit appear later in the summer. A plant for well-drained soils only, it may be short-lived.

  • Family (English) Mezereum
  • Family (botanic) Thymelaeaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring, late spring, midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, Purple
  • Shape or form Broad, Mounded, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow

Native geographic location and habitat:

This is native to Europe and Siberia.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Birds are attracted to this plant’s fruit.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is brown to tan and often twiggy.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, deciduous or semi-evergreen, simple dark green leaves and are 1 inch long and narrow.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are very fragrant, lilac to rose-purple in color, borne in twos or threes on 1/2 inch clusters.  Flowers develop before the leaves appear in early April.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a 1/3 inch diameter red berry that matures in June. All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the fruit.

Plant care:

A small, 3 to 5 feet high shrub with erect branching, often becoming leggy at the base. To grow it needs perfect drainage, loose, sandy, neutral soil, and full sun. Daphnes do not transplant well and should not be moved once established. Protect during winter in cold climates and cover with evergreen boughs or mulch after ground freezes. Prune after flowering before mid-July. This should not be planted in windy sites. Plants will do well for several years then die for no obvious reason. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Common problems are leaf spots, crown rot, cankers, and scale insects.  It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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