Daphne puts gardeners in a difficult position: This temperamental plant requires a lot of care and attention, but prefers to be left alone. Michael Dirr, author of "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants," warns that daphne sometimes dies suddenly for no explainable reason.
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Daphne resents pruning, transplanting and manipulation, so leave it alone unless care is essential. Pruning is one of the necessary tasks that may initially set the shrub back, but it usually recovers. Prune in late fall or early spring by cutting about one-third of the oldest branches at ground level.
Daphne is susceptible to several diseases, including canker, leaf spot, twig blight and crown rot. No cures for these diseases exist; the only treatment is to remove the infected parts of the plant. To help prevent diseases, grow daphne in an area with good air circulation and plenty of sunshine. Water the soil and not the foliage, and keep the area weed- and pest-free as much as possible.
Insect pests for the daphne plant include aphids, scale and mealy bugs. These insects have many natural predators that help keep them in check. When choosing an insecticide, choose one that doesn't kill predator insects such as lady beetles and green lacewings. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are safe choices.
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