The Q&A Archives: Daphne As A Shrub For A Problem Area

Question: On the NE corner of the front of our house, we cut down a Burford Holly, and want to replace it. The problem is it was on the corner of our house. It gets midday sun in the summer. It gets north winds and breezes blow by between our neighbor's house. We tried a Camelia which will grow but the buds are killed by frost so we moved it to a more protected area. We don't want a holly. Would prefer an evergreen with a natural height not much greater than 6 feet or that doesn't require alot of pruning. What about a Daphne? We read some varieties are hardy if not disturbed, and also they are poisonous (don't want to wipe out the neighborhood children) Any suggestions?

Answer: Daphne should be hardy to your area, most are hardy in zones 4-8, you are zone 7. They prefer a sunny position in a well drained, sandy soil of neutral pH. The north winds you mention may be a problem as daphne grows best with some winter protection. Have you considered a rhododendron? They are evergreen, have beautiful flowers, and if the the midday summer sun isn't too intense it shouldn't be a problem. There are some varieties which are much hardier than others (i.e., will put up with more sun and wind). One variety that comes to mind is R. 'P.J.M.' (R. carolinianum x dauricum). Also a variety called R. 'The Hon. Jean Marie De Montague'. I also think of Viburnum, particularly the variety V. x burkwoodii. This variety features both flower and fruit (tiny, glossy red berries), evergreen in the south, foliage turns rich purple in more northern areas. They have a gardenia like fragrance and are cold/heat tolerant. Both rhododendron and viburnum require little, if any, pruning. The viburnum I recommend above reaches approx. 6-8' tall, 6' wide. Rhododendrons mentioned above grow 5-6' tall, with equal spread. Let us know if you need sources.

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