The Q&A Archives: Pruning Daphne

Question: My Daphne Cneorum, which just finished blooming, has been in a pot in a partial sun area for the last year and seems rather leggy to me. Can I prune it to get it to fill out more and how much can I prune? It has about two inches of new growth and about two more inches of woody growth with leaves. We are planning to plant it in a full sun location (they seem to do very well in full sun here in western WA). Can I prune it now and also plant it this month? We also have a Daphne Odora. Do you recommend pruning it?

Answer: Your Daphne cncorum is also known as Garland Daphne, because of its trailing habit. The legginess you describe is natural for this daphne; if it were growing in the ground rather than in a container, it would root wherever the stems rested on the ground. You can prune it after bloom to keep it small and it will produce new flowering wood over the summer months. It will never become bushy, though, because it's a trailing type of daphne. It's safe to prune now, but you should wait until this fall to transplant. Daphne's resent being disturbed, so you may have to sneak up on it just as the weather begins to cool and growth slows down. A full sun location will be just fine for the plant. Daphne odora, or Winter Daphne grows to about 4' in height (sometimes higher in perfect locations). You can carefully prune after flowering by cutting to outfacing buds to promote spreading, or to infacing buds to promote upward growth. Just as a general rule of thumb, never prune more than one-third of the live plant material off in any one year. Daphne's are wonderful plants here in the Pacific Northwest!

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