Daphne odora, a beautiful plant for your Japanese garden

Japanese gardens are extraordinary: they convey a lot of peace and tranquility, something increasingly necessary in these times. Plants are an excellent way to live day to day with courage, and also with energy.

One of the ones I recommend is the Daphne odora. A shrub with small, but very fragrant flowers that you will surely love.

Origin and characteristics of the Daphne odora

Image – Flickr/ peganum

Our protagonist, belonging to the Thymelaeaceae family, is a native of China, and her scientific name is Daphne odora. It is popularly known as odor daphne. It has a bushy bearing, reaching an approximate height of 1.5 meters. Its leaves are lanceolate, pointed, with a very marked central vein, green or with yellowish margins. These fall in winter, making it a deciduous species in temperate/ cold climates.

The flowers are very small, 1cm in diameter, and are composed of four petals. They can be pink or white, but both give off an intense aroma. It rarely bears fruit in cultivation, but if it does, you will see that its fruits will be red berries.

Their life expectancy is short, about 10 years.

How to take care of the Daphne odora ?

The Daphne odora or daphne of smell is a very grateful plant, which settles for little to look splendid. Thus, your care will be:


For optimal development, it is convenient to plant it in a place where it receives direct sunlight, outdoors. Although it also grows in semi-shade.


Image – Flickr/ Leonora (Ellie) Enking

We will water it 2-3 times a week in summer and 1-2 the rest of the year. It is important that we let the substrate dry between waterings, as it fears waterlogging.

The water to use must be acidic, with a pH between 4 and 6. In the event that the one we have is alkaline, we will lower its pH with lemon or vinegar. Of course, it is very important that we check the pH with a meter, because if it drops more than 4 it would not be good either.


  • Garden: the soil where we plant it must be acidic, that is, it must have a pH between 4 and 6. If the pH is higher, its leaves will turn yellow, but it is easily solved by adding iron chelates to the soil.
  • Pot: fill with substrate for acidic plants (on sale here ).


It is highly recommended to fertilize using a specific fertilizer for acidophilic plants (on sale here ) during spring and summer, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. In this way, we will make the Daphne odora grow healthy and flourish in abundance.


It is multiplied by semi-woody cuttings in summer. To do this, you have to follow this step by step:

  1. First, we will cut a semi-woody branch that measures about 30 centimeters with a small hand saw previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol or another disinfectant.
  2. Then, we impregnate the base with homemade rooters.
  3. Then, we plant it in a pot with vermiculite that we will have watered before.
  4. Finally, we place the pot outside, in semi-shade.

Keeping the substrate moist, it will root in about 15 days.

Planting or transplanting time

In spring, when the risk of frost has passed, following this step by step:

Planting in the garden

  1. First, you have to make sure that the soil is acidic, with a pH between 4 and 6. If you have doubts, we recommend you read this article.
  2. Then, we will make a planting hole, about 50 x 50cm.
  3. Next, we will put a layer of about 10-15cm of fine gravel, volcanic clay or similar. This will be especially helpful if it ever rains heavily.
  4. Then, we will add a little garden soil mixed with 20% perlite.
  5. The next step is to remove the plant from the pot, being careful not to manipulate its roots too much, and insert it into the hole, making sure that it is neither too high nor too low.
  6. Finally, it is finished filling and watered.

Pot change

  1. To change the pot, the new one must first be filled with a little acidic plant substrate.
  2. The plant is then removed from its ‘old’ container.
  3. Afterwards, it is placed inside its new pot. If we see that it is too high or too low, it will be removed or more substrate will be added.
  4. We finished filling it completely.
  5. And finally, we water conscientiously.

Plagues and diseases

It is very resistant, but it can be affected by viruses that cause spots to appear on the leaves. To combat them, the only thing that can be done is to cut the affected parts and keep the plant properly fertilized.


It is very rustic, being able to live in places where the mercury in the thermometer drops to -8ºC. So, you won’t have to worry about the cold .

Of course, if the annual temperature is lower in your area, then you will have to protect it with anti-frost fabric or in a home greenhouse for example.

Did you know the Daphne odora ? What do you think?

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