last updated 01/05/2022

Daphne bholua cultivars and hybrids

Perhaps the most dramatic of the genus, this species and its derivatives flower in the winter. We often have them flower for Christmas, continuing until March, dependant on the season.

Their scent is utterly intoxicating!

Plant them near the front door for constant appreciation! Most are evergreen so they will enjoy shelter from cold wind, whilst protection from summer sun helps prevent them drying out. They are happy in sun if their roots are shaded but they perform best in a shady site. Try one amongst your deciduous shrubs - when they lose their leaves the daphne will be revealed, shortly to overwhelm the garden with its scent and beauty. Every garden should have one! To my nose, they are all equally well scented - I couldn't say that any one has a better scent than any other. The differences between them are more to do with flower colour and the overall appearance of the plant.

Although most are classified as evergreen, they tend to loose their old leaves just before the new growth starts in the spring. This also tends to coincide with the flowers finishing, so they can look rather messy for a while at this time. Over-watering at this point can kill them, so just be patient.

We have bred and selected a number of selections ourselves, here on the nursery. Some of these are listed below with the Cobhay prefix (that being part of our address).

Please be aware that all parts of the daphne plant are toxic if eaten, whilst the sap can cause a skin allergy. Keep in mind that these plants are for ornamental use only and treat them appropriately.

I'm delighted that we are able to offer a number of these fantastic plants again this season. A goodly range of cultivars are available at the time of writing this (February 2022), but numbers are limited. 

As some element of normality hopefully returns to proceedings this year, we hope to have more of our collection available from Autumn 2022 and these additional cultivars are included in the list below, annotated accordingly. Further photos and info will follow in due course. At present I'm focussing on the plants that we do have currently available, so I won't be able to discuss or confirm orders for the others before October 2022. 

To order, email me at karan@junker.co.uk

Daphne bholua 'Cobhay Coral' Daphne bholua 'Penwood'
Daphne bholua Cobhay Coral from Junker's Nursery Daphne bholua Penwood from Junker's Nursery

New Daphne ex Myanmar (Burma) from Junkers Nursery Daphne sp.
Originating at high altitude in northern Myanmar (previously Burma), this intriguing Daphne may even be a new species. However, in the meanwhile I am including it with the Daphne bholua cultivars since it is those which it most closely resembles. Supposedly evergreen in the wild, it is semi-evergreen for us here, though that is by no means a bad thing. Personally I would rather a plant dropped its leaves completely rather than hanging onto them when they look sad. Unusually, our experience here is that this one typically looses many of its leaves, whilst the few that remain stay a healthy deep green. When first introduced, there was uncertainty as to its hardiness, but we have had absolutely no problems with it here, even in our exposed site. Of course the other advantage of a winter-flowering plant loosing its leaves is that the flowers are fully visible in all their glory. The flowers of this one are at their best from late January through February, so a touch later than most of the D. bholua cultivars. They have the same form, with lots of small flowers held together in a globular head. They open sequentially from the outer ring inwards. This results in a rather wonderful colour gradient across the opening flowerhead. Dark purple in bud, they open paler to almost white, before maturing to a unique shade of cream which I have never otherwise seen in a D. bholua cultivar. The fabulous scent is also particularly pleasing, being (to my nose) a much lighter, fresher, citric fragrance than is typical for the D. bholua cultivars. Its habit also stands it apart. It is strong growing, typically forming a strong upright plant that is almost fastigiate, making it the perfect candidate to add some height to the winter garden without taking up too much width. In my opinion, this one has a great future.
Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua Cobhay Coral from Junker's Nursery Daphne bholua 'Cobhay Coral'
Our own selection, this has quickly established itself as one of our favourites. It is a wonderful delicate coral pink in bud, opening paler to almost white. It has excellent vigour and makes a robust plant. It holds its foliage well through the winter, the leaves maintaining their rich green colour.

Daphne bholua 'Cobhay Debut'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua Cobhay Snow from Junker's Nursery Daphne bholua 'Cobhay Snow'
Another of our own breeding, we selected this one for its pure white flowers. We previously grew a cultivar called 'Alba' which proved not to be as hardy as some and eventually succumbed. This selection is much more robust and grows extremely reliably. It is typically bushier and more free branching than some selections, with brighter green foliage.

Daphne bholua 'Darjeeling'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua 'Garden House Enchantress'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua 'Garden House Ghost'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua 'Garden House Sentinel'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postil from Junker's Nursery Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' 
This is probably the best known selection, and it is indeed truly beautiful. The large flowers are deep purple-pink in bud, opening to much paler within. It originated as a seedling of 'Gurkha' in 1982, raised by Alan Postill, propagator at Hilliers. It can often grow strongly as a young plant, initially developing a more open habit. Don't be afraid to pinch back new growth to encourage it to bush. It is preferable to prune them a little and often rather than having to discipline an older specimen. 

Daphne bholua Limpsfield Daphne bholua 'Limpsfield'
Roy Lancaster wrote a feature on Daphne bholua in the RHS journal The Garden some time ago, which was accompanied in the usual way by a plate showing a photographic comparison between flowers of the various cultivars. For me, this one stood out. It is visually closest to 'Jacqueline Postill' in flower, but I find that it retains its leaves more reliably. It is an excellent cultivar.

Daphne bholua 'Mary Rose'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne bholua Penwood from Junker's Nursery Daphne bholua 'Penwood'
It has superb rich pink buds which open into large flower clusters in the usual way. We actually prefer this one to the popular 'Jacqueline Postill' because it holds its foliage so much better after flowering. We raised ‘Penwood' as a seedling from a plant of D. bholua acquired from Doug Harris at Penwood Nurseries many years ago, hence the name. Just one seedling came from the seed and it stood out for the dramatic contrast between the rich pink buds and the pink flushed flowers, much less purple than 'Jacqueline Postill'. It has an upright habit, being naturally bushier and more compact than 'Jacqueline Postill', with narrower leaves. The fragrance is equally superb.

Daphne bholua 'Sir Peter Smithers'

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne Spring Beauty from Junker's Nursery Daphne 'Spring Beauty'
(D. sureil x D. bholua) D. sureil is closely allied to D. bholua, so this selection fundamentally resembles a wonderful D. bholua. If anything, this truly evergreen Daphne is even more gorgeous, with fabulous pink flowers, slightly later than the main flush of bholuas actually, which extends the display rather nicely. The flower heads are slightly less dense within themselves, creating a slightly more graceful appearance. Initially I was a touch concerned about its hardiness, but it is thriving for us, tolerating snow, wind and frost without a murmur. My favourite in the group (except for our home bred babies of course!)

Daphne Cobhay Purple Clouds from Junker's Nursery Daphne 'Cobhay Purple Clouds'
(D. wolongensis 'Guardsman' x D. bholua) This new Daphne and the next ('Cobhay Purple Pillar') are wonderful hybrids of our own breeding. They are intermediate between the parents in most respects. Thus, they start to flower a touch later than the bholuas, typically starting in late January and continuing well into February. The fragrant flowers are clustered all the way up the stems in the same way that is seen in 'Guardsman'. In habit they are an excellent compromise between their parents; upright in habit, particularly when young, being bushier and less stiffly upright than 'Guardsman' whilst remaining smaller than is normal for a bholua. They really are perfect garden plants, tolerant of a wide range of conditions but thriving in light shade. The two hybrids are similar but subtly different. This one is slightly more compact with a tighter habit. Both have bright pinkish purple flower buds that fade to white from the middle as they mature. The colour of this hybrid is a slightly redder shade of purple.

Daphne Cobhay Purple Pillar from Junker's Nursery Daphne 'Cobhay Purple Pillar'
(D. wolongensis 'Guardsman' x D. bholua) This lovely new Daphne is the sister seedling of 'Cobhay Purple Clouds' described above. This one develops a slightly looser habit as it matures, and the flowers are slightly more purple in colour, lacking the reddish tones that I see in 'Cobhay Purple Clouds'. 

Daphne Spring Herald from Junker's Nursery Daphne 'Spring Herald'
(D. acutiloba x D. bholua) The name really sums it up! When this one flowers, we know that the winter is almost behind us and the days are lengthening. Almost pure white flowers stud this lovely evergreen shrub, filling the air with a delicious spicy perfume. The acutiloba influence makes this one more compact in habit than most selections of D. bholua. The flowers are a little smaller than those of the bholuas. 

Other Daphne

Daphne 'Cobhay Pink Delight'
(D. tangutica x D. wolongensis 'Guardsman')

Available from autumn 2022

Daphne pontica hybrid
(D. pontica x D. laureola)

Daphne tangutica

Available from autumn 2022

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