There are some plants that just cry out to be planted in your garden, flying off the shelves of the Garden Centre as soon as they appear. But there are others, much more subtle in their appeal, that insinuate themselves into the consciousness, until you have to go out and find one – just make sure you have the appropriate place for such a treasure.
Daphne blagayana falls into this category. It is an evergreen prostrate creeper with trailing stems and very fragrant, creamy-white flowers in early spring (pale pink forms have also been recorded in the past). It’s not a scent to hit you in mid stride, rather one you need to get down on your knees for, but well worth the effort. It is rare in commerce, being “almost impossible to propagate” according to one nursery.
Daphne blagayana likes to grow in dappled shade in an open, woodsy soil. The correct level of light is also crucial as too little inhibits flowering, while too much hot sun and dryness at the root is “resented” according to daphne specialist Robin White. Covering the stems of the plant with a friable soil mix will encourage it to make more roots; this gives us a hint as to how to try and increase it. Wound the underside of a young branch with your fingernail, exposing the green cambium layer. Applying hormone rooting powder to the wound is optional. Place it on a half-filled pot of compost, top up with more compost, and hold it in place with a bent piece of wire or a heavy stone. Keep it moist, and it should root within a few weeks. Mulching bare stems also helps to hide the shrub’s somewhat straggly habit, although there is a more compact form named ‘Brenda Anderson.’
Far from being “almost impossible to propagate”, you could be generating a small income from your progeny, selling it to discerning gardeners who, having seen your immaculate specimen, will be smitten by the desire to have their own plant.