Daphnes: Help get my Jacqueline Postil back to being a wonderful sight

Question: I have two daphnes which are causing me concern, a Jacqueline Postil planted over 12 years ago is now 3m x 2m and is a wonderful sight, the perfume is intoxicating! That is until last year. It now has fewer flowers and the branches in the centre look stressed, shed leaves and the wood looks sick. Next-door to it is a younger D.Odora. A few years ago leaves started falling off and it does not flower well. The wood goes soft and splits. I have cut out some of the affected parts and it seems to partially recover but it does not flower well and does not look happy. Some parts remain sick. I dare not cut D.Jac Postil but what can I do? They are fed in spring and summer and we try to keep them mulched and watered. Both face south east and are sheltered from the cold winds. They are in the full sun most of the summer. I am concerned if the summer is to be even drier than usual and do not want to lose my magnificent shrubs. I have other daphnes in other parts of the garden - collina, tangutica, and burkwoodii Somerset which are all doing well and have flowered well for years. Can you help? (J Rossi Norwich)

Answer:

Daphne prefers a cool, lime-free, well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position. It succeeds in neutral soils and tolerates partial shade. Some species also succeed in quite deep shade.

At least some forms, especially the sub-species D.bholua var.glacialis tolerate alkaline soils. It flowers well when grown in dry shade and likes plenty of moisture in the growing season.

Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible. Keep pruning to a minimum, although from the picture you sent I would prune yours hard back now after flowering and feed it well.


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I would use pelleted chicken manure and bark mulch round the base to help retain the moisture.

I suspect that your plant has dried out in the past summer and this has led to the damage. Daphne can suffer from a number of disorders and diseases which can lead to sudden die-back or yellowing of the foliage.

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•This article was first published on February 18, 2012.

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