Updated: May 17, 2022

Daphne plants, also known as winter daphne or spurge laurel, are a genus of flowering shrubs and small trees that are native to Asia, Europe, and North Africa. There are around 70 different species of daphne plants, which vary in size and appearance but all share similar fragrant flowers.

The History of Daphne Plants

The origin of daphne plants can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology. According to legend, Daphne was a beautiful nymph who caught the attention of the god Apollo. When she rejected his advances, Apollo chased her through the forest. As he was about to catch her, Daphne called out to her father, a river god, who transformed her into a laurel tree to protect her from Apollo’s advances.

The Greeks believed that the laurel tree symbolized victory and honor, and it became a common feature in Greek literature and art. The use of the name “daphne” for this genus of plants is thought to be a reference to this myth.

Where Are Daphne Plants Found Today?

Daphne plants are found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows, and rocky slopes. They prefer well-drained soil and partial shade, and can be found at elevations ranging from sea level to mountainous areas.

Today, daphne plants are grown all over the world as ornamental plants due to their fragrant flowers and attractive foliage. They are particularly popular in gardens in temperate regions.

Characteristics of Daphne Plants

Daphne plants vary in size from small shrubs to trees that can reach up to 30 feet tall. They have shiny green leaves that are often leathery in texture, and their flowers are usually pink or white with a strong scent.

One unique characteristic of daphne plants is their ability to bloom in the winter, when most other plants are dormant. This makes them an important source of food for pollinators during the colder months.

Growing and Caring for Daphne Plants

Daphne plants can be grown from seeds or cuttings, but they can be difficult to propagate. They prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, and they should be planted in partial shade.

One important thing to note about daphne plants is that they are toxic if ingested. All parts of the plant contain poisonous compounds that can cause vomiting, stomach pain, and even death if consumed in large quantities. It is important to keep daphne plants away from children and pets.

In terms of care, daphne plants should be watered regularly but not over-watered, as they are susceptible to root rot. They should also be pruned regularly to maintain their shape and promote healthy growth.


Are daphne plants easy to grow?

Daphne plants can be difficult to propagate and require specific growing conditions, so they may not be the easiest plant to grow for beginners.

Can daphne plants be grown indoors?

Daphne plants prefer partial shade and well-drained soil, so they may not thrive indoors unless they have access to a sunny window or grow light.

Are daphne plants toxic to pets?

Yes, daphne plants are toxic if ingested and can be dangerous for pets. It is important to keep them out of reach of animals.

How long do daphne flowers last?

Daphne flowers typically last for a few weeks in the winter or early spring, depending on the species and growing conditions.

In conclusion, daphne plants have a rich history rooted in Greek mythology and are now enjoyed worldwide for their fragrant flowers and attractive foliage. While they require specific growing conditions and can be toxic if ingested, with proper care they can make a beautiful addition to any garden.