Daphne, Stellera and other Thymelaeaceae

Submitted by Peter George on Mon, 07/04/2011 - 07:26

I have a 2 inch seedling of Stellera chamaejasme, growing well in it's own pot. What shall I do with it? One of the suggestions I've had is to winter it over and then plant it out next spring, and someone else told me to plant it out in the early fall. It's taken two years to get one seedling to germinate, survive and grow, and I hate to think I'd kill it before it had a real chance. It's one of the plants that I've had on my 'want' list for years, so help me out, please.


Submitted by HeLP on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 03:28

I had two of these seedlings growing a couple of years ago, planted one in the rock garden, did not survive the winter, the other in a lean border, my wife thought she would help with the weeding and it disappeared-I guess not much help!

Submitted by Tim Ingram on Sun, 05/13/2012 - 12:50

We are very lucky in the UK to have Blackthorn Nursery and Robin White's great skills at propagating and distributing daphnes (along with a whole lot of other plants!). The most exciting in our garden, because it is flowering for the first time and is often regarded as temperamental, is D. glomerata. This is from Turkey and the Caucasus growing in damp mountain meadows with cold snowy winters (which it doesn't really get with us!). I have it on the cool and moist side of a greenhouse, still with good light and in heavy loam. I normally prop a frame light over it during winter, but didn't this year. I hope it will carry on giving a show like this, on a compact neat bush.

Daphne x hendersonii 'Blackthorn Rose' by contrast grows in deep sharp sand and has made a superb free flowering small shrub (again protected in winter from excess rains).

Finally probably the very best spring flowering daphne in the garden - D. retusa. This makes a beautifully neat and reliable shrub with large and strongly scented flowers and has maintained itself in the garden by self-sowing over more than 30 years! What more can one ask?

Submitted by Tim Ingram on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 01:22

Thanks Trond! Daphne retusa is definitely the best scent-wise and I think should be in every garden! D. glomerata has an odd, slightly offputting scent (which Robin White comments on in his book), but only when you get up close! The best daphne of all in my opinion is the winter flowering odora; the scent can fill the garden!

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 04:36

I have tried some Daphne during the years and some do well here. However the very cold previous winters killed a lot. I have to start again. The problem is getting hold of them here, only some common species are well, common. It is easier to get seed than plants!

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Fri, 10/05/2012 - 09:30

Tim, to the best of my knowledge, Daphne 'Blackthorn Rose' has never been available here.  On the pre-Nottingham Conference tour, we visited Robin White's garden, probably the highlight of the tour for me, although all the gardens were superb.  He had some of his cultivars for sale, but unfortunately I was unable to buy anything because the Conference did not provide a  phyto-inspector.  It was really a crushing disappointment since I came with all the paperwork for bringing plants into the U.S.  His daphnes were so wonderful and you're so lucky to be able to buy them.  I have no idea if "Blackthorn Rose ' would be hardy here.  Do you know the parentage of this one?

Submitted by Peter George on Sun, 05/26/2013 - 16:40

I'm still looking for a plant or two of the Stellera, but so far I've not been able to locate any. I emailed Chen Yi (yes, I'm that desperate!), but the email bounced, so I'm at a loss. Any ideas?

Submitted by Mark McD on Sun, 05/26/2013 - 18:51

Peter, what happened to the 2" seedling mentioned in the initial post?  Where did you get seed?

Probably the only chance to get seed of Stellera (I assume you're interested in S. chamaejasme) is to get the specialty seed lists from the few plant collectors that go to far flung places like the alpine China.

To tempt the senses, go to this Flora of China page, and click on each of many photos of plants in the wild, found in many color forms.

Submitted by Peter George on Mon, 05/27/2013 - 08:30

The seedling died. When I was in Washington last year for the Annual Meeting, I bought one Stellera from Rick Lupp, but due to a peculiar series of mistakes, it ended up in Denver with Panayoti, and it seems to have died as well. Do you happen to know if Chen Yi is still in business? Her website is a year old, as is her list.

Submitted by Tony Willis on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 04:40

Chen yi  does send stellera if she bothers sending your order at all but they are truly awful plants that stand little or no chance of surviving. They have been dug up and then appear to have had the roots scrubbed so you get a long white carrot with its top growth cut off. Other things from her have been good but in my opinion this is not one of them.

I heard today her minimum order is now $500 paid in advance.