Another Perfect Plant: Daphne bholua

his Daphne originates from the Himalayas of Nepal and spans across to Southern China. Daphne bholua is a rather tall growing Daphne, reaching heights from 6′-0″ to 12′-0″ and fairly narrow in width, from 3′-0″ to 5′-0″. The long, narrow leaves are evergreen in warmer climates, but are deciduous in much colder climates. Blooming in the winter months, the dark pink flower buds open with light pink four-lobed flowers that are heavily scented.

The Daphne bholua was used in Nepal for paper-making, hence the common name “Paper Daphne.” The bark and roots are said to be used as a traditional medicine to treat fever. (We would not recommend trying this as parts of the plant are considered poisonous. Technically, if ingested, this Daphne could cure a fever by killing you at the same time!)

There are a number of varieties bred for European and American gardens, but the one we are focusing on is ‘Jacqueline Postill.’ Here in the Northwest, ‘Jacqueline Postill’ has been blooming since the beginning of January with four to fifteen pinkish white flowers per flower head. Black berries will follow later. This variety will grow from 5′-0″ to 9′-0″ tall. It is probably the hardiest evergreen of its variety and a very popular cultivar. It has received the Royal Horticulture Society Award of Merit.

Most cultivars of Daphne bholua will grow in slightly alkaline or acidic soils. Very good drainage is a must and it does like to have slightly moist soils in the summer. We recommend that you plant your Daphne where it will be sheltered from strong winds and very hot sun. If you are able, plant it close to where you can enjoy its intoxicating smell. Once planted, leave it where it is. Daphne bholua, like most Daphnes, do not like to be transplanted. It also does not like to be pruned, not even minimally. So be sure to install your Daphne in an area where it has space to grow and does not have to be moved later.

Richard Hartlage

Richard Hartlage is the founding principal and CEO of Land Morphology. His award-winning, innovative designs are renowned as emotive, immersive spaces that incorporate sophisticated horticulture, artful detailing, and historical knowledge that heighten the human experience of the natural world. His passion for horticulture, cultivated over fifteen years working public gardens and estates, is applied to each design from the conceptual phase through development of maintenance protocol and beyond.