Daphnes are often dismissed as old fashioned garden plants but these charming plants bring fragrance and color to the garden when most plants are still dormant. Daphnes need well drained, fertile soil. If you have clay soil, consider building raised beds or planting daphnes in large containers. Always mix compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting daphnes. Daphnes do not tolerate transplanting. You must always buy container-grown daphnes and disturb the roots as little as possible. Avoid bare-root daphnes; they don't live long and take years to settle properly into their planting site.
Plant daphnes in early to mid fall or mid to late spring.
Choose a spot with neutral pH (6.0 to 7.5) and well drained soil. If you have heavy clay soil, consider building a raised bed. The site should be in part shade with afternoon shade preferred. Northern gardeners should place daphnes where they receive protection from the winter winds. Space plants 3 to 10 ft. apart, depending on the cultivar.
Dig a hole three times as large as the root ball.
Mix compost with the soil that is removed from the hole until you have a 50/50 compost/soil mix.
Refill the hole with the compost/soil mix until it is just large enough for the root ball. It should be deep enough that the top of the daphne's root ball is level with the surface.
Remove the daphne from its container. Loosen the soil around the roots and place in the hole.
Back fill the hole with the compost/soil mix. Tamp the soil gently around the root ball to eliminate air pockets.
Give your daphne one to two gallons of water after planting. If the soil settles as the water drains, add more compost/soil mix around the base of the plant. Don't allow the roots to be exposed.
Spread 2 to 3 in. of mulch around the base of the daphne. Pull the mulch 2 to 3 in. away from the base of the plant to prevent damage to the trunk.