Daphne Mezereum

Common name: February daphne, mezereum, spurge laurel or spurge olive

Family: Thymelaceae

One of the best known members of this family is Daphne mezereum, which covers itself with fragrant purple-red flowers on bare stems from mid to late winter, a time when any form of color is very welcome in the garden.

Pink Blooming Daphne Mezereum

The genus contains approximately 50 species, both evergreen and deciduous. Within their ranks are low-growing, dwarf and small shrubs. Daphnes are particularly noted for their sweet scent.

Popular Species and Varieties

Daphne mezereum is to be found naturally in Europe. Turkey and other parts of the Middle East. It forms a neat bush which, in mature specimens, can reach 1.8m (5ft). The flowers are followed by scarlet berries — as with all members of the family, these are poisonous.

There is also a white form, Daphne mezereum alba — the berries in this case are yellow. Also flowering early is Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, a native of China and Japan. It also grows to around 1.8m (5ft) but has a lax habit. The pale green leaves have narrow creamy margins.

Daphne Mezereum
Blossom of Daphne Mezereum in Early Spring

One daphne that does not commence flowering until mid-spring is Daphne tangutica ‘Retusa Group’, formerly listed as Daphne retusa. This produces purplish-red blooms on bushes of lax habit. Vivid bright red berries follow.

There are a number of daphnes that are ideal subjects for the rock garden, and among these is the garland flower (Daphne cneorum). This evergreen shrub has a prostrate habit, growing to 15cm (6in) in height with richly scented rose-pink flowers in mid to late spring. One named form is ‘Eximia’ (AGM) — widely regarded as being superior, this grows slightly larger and has very colourful blooms which almost completely hide the plant.


Daphne isn’t just a plant; it’s a garden’s melodious serenade. With fragrant blooms that could enchant even the most seasoned gardeners, mastering its cultivation is an art. Let’s unravel the magic behind nurturing this botanical beauty.

1. Soil Type

Most well-drained, humus-rich soils are suitable, including those of an alkaline type.

2. Planting

In autumn or spring. Daphnes are happy in sun or lightly shaded areas.

3. Maintenance

Pruning is not required. Any damaged growth can be removed in late winter.

4. Propagation

Cuttings of around 7cm (3in) in length, with a heel, should be taken in early to mid-summer. Choose non-flowering, semi-ripe shoots. Treat in the usual manner. The young plants should be ready to plant out after their second winter

5. Pests and Diseases

Aphids can attack young growth; treat as soon as seen with an insecticide.

Final Thought

Daphne mezereum, with its radiant blooms and intoxicating aroma, truly is nature’s masterpiece. Every garden deserves the vibrancy and charm this plant bestows. As you nurture it, you’re not just cultivating a plant, but a legacy of beauty. Allow your garden to echo with its enchantment. Let’s embrace the journey of making your green space a daphne-filled paradise.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What exactly is Daphne mezereum?

Often called February daphne, Daphne mezereum is a deciduous shrub. It stands out with its early-spring pink or purple flowers and a lovely fragrance. Native to parts of Europe and Asia, it offers a post-winter splash of color.

Is Daphne mezereum safe for pets?

No, Daphne mezereum is toxic to pets and humans alike. Its berries, particularly, can be very poisonous when ingested. Always keep it out of reach from curious pets and children.

How long does Daphne mezereum take to flower after planting?

When planted from seeds, it might take a few years to flower. However, if you plant a young shrub, it should bloom in its upcoming spring season.

How tall can it grow?

Daphne mezereum can elegantly stand at 3-4 feet when mature. Its compact size makes it a garden favorite, especially in smaller spaces.

When is the best time to plant Daphne mezereum?

The ideal time to plant February daphne is during the fall. This allows the plant to establish its root system before the winter, ready to bloom come spring.

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