My small collection of daphnes

It pains me to admit that a ‘Summer Ice’ daphne (Daphne x transatlatica ‘Summer Ice’, below) planted early in the spring was lost a few weeks ago, almost certainly due to my inattention and not catching the first signs of wilt in this period of summer heat and little rain. One day it was fine, the next time I noticed it was brown and too late to save. Was the time in between a day or a week? I’m clueless, but ashamed that I screwed this one up.

Summer Ice daphne

While daphnes in general have a well earned reputation for being finicky, I’ve had excellent success with ‘Summer Ice’ and similar hybrids ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Jim’s Pride’. Currently, I am babysitting a tiny ‘Brigg’s Moonlight’ daphne that I erroneously had delivered in August, rather than specifying a much safer late September arrival. ‘Moonlight’ is the reverse variegation of the popular ‘Carol Mackie’, which is not as difficult as a few other daphnes that I’ve tried and failed with, but ‘Carol’ demands proper positioning, and without it she will be trouble. I think that I’ve given ‘Moonlight’ the best spot possible, but time will tell, if I can keep it alive over the next several weeks.

Jim’s Pride daphne

The lost ‘Summer Ice’ could not be replaced with ‘Brigg’s Moonlight’ because it backs up to established plantings that could easily overwhelm a tiny shrub, and I’m thinking I’ll probably plant another ‘Carol Mackie’ when I can get one that’s a bit larger, which will probably be spring. I’ve lost a few ‘Carol Mackie’ over the years, with one that was long lived, but competing with a vigorous clump of sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis) it faded and finally perishing this spring. I’m fairly confident that this partly sunny spot in the front will work as well for ‘Carol’ as it does for other daphnes.

Eternal Fragrance daphne

Of course, other than the recent loss of the ‘Summer Ice’, what brings this to mind is that the three hybrid daphnes are at peak bloom in early September. All have blooms from mid to late March until November, but these ebb and flow, and now’s one of the heavy periods of flowering. Unfortunately, my sense of smell is next to nil, so I don’t enjoy the fragrance, but I will carefully choose spots to plant as many daphnes as can be fit.

Carol Mackie daphne
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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Linus says:

    Rather than drying out, is it possible that this plant succumbed to Phytophthora? How closely are these plants related to rhododendrons? There seems to be Phytophthora issues with new rhododendrons from all the excessive rain we’ve been having.

    1. Dave says:

      I’m guessing that daphnes wouldn’t survive a week in damp soil, but this is dry, too dry as it turns out. This dapne went green to brown all at once, not a branch at a time.

  2. The English Gardener says:

    I love the gentle fragrance of Daphne.
    As previously stated I lost my Daphne in July as it was left unwatered for a week in blistering Central Va. heat. Yes, I tried to revive it but as you warned it was gone in spite of resuscitation attempts. It’s demise was entirely my fault as it was doing well but I will not plant another. It was better suited to my garden in England than to my current one where it’s getting hotter each year. And I am not solicitous about watering regularly.
    With regard to your new little Daphne … I kept my little Daphne in a pot on the covered front porch for two years prior to planting it out this spring and it did quite well.
    But, it did not get the TLC it deserved once in the ground. Pure neglect on my part!
    The English Gardener

  3. I lost my Summer Ice two summers ago in spite of regular watering. The location was just too hot and sunny for it. I have had some Daphne odoras thrive for several years each, but right now I have none. Not sure whether I’ll try again, but I do love their fragrance, so …

    1. Dave says:

      One of two Daphne odoras was lost last winter, and winter daphne regularly suffers when temperatures drop near zero. The hybrids are much more cold hardy.

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