Why is My Daphne Plant Dying?

Why is My Daphne Plant Dying? (And How To Fix It!)

Daphne is a small, evergreen shrub with beautiful flowers that smell sweet. They are kept for their fragrance in gardens and indoors(some varieties).

They will do well either in pots or in the garden, but sometimes things may go south.

Daphne plants may die due to various reasons.

  • Aphid infestation or herbicidal spray damage causes leaf curling.
  • Root rot, Twig blight cause leaf browning along with frost damage.
  • Leaf spot disease causes brown spots on the foliage.
  • Leaf yellowing is seen due to improper watering practices and may also happen due to Magnesium deficiency.
  • Daphne Sudden Death syndrome also causes sudden death of the Daphne plant.

Why are my Daphne Plant Leaves Curling?

Do you see curled leaves on your Daphne plant? It may be due to these pesky pests called Aphids.

Aphid Infestation

If the leaves are pretty curled up, you need to cut the affected leaves, unroll them, and look for Aphids. If they are indeed present, you need to act accordingly.

Aphids suck the sap of the plant and curl up the leaves, so they can hide.

How to get rid of Aphids on the Daphne plant?

Eliminating Aphids is crucial as they damage the foliage. They also pave way for a fungal infection called Sooty mold.

  • You can blast these insects off the leaves with a garden hose if the infestation is in an early stage. Spray three times a day and do this every other day.
  • If the infestation is heavy, spray insecticidal soap once every 3-4 days.
  • Ants carry aphids up the tree. So, eliminate any ants nearby. Dismantle the anthill and pour boiling water on it.
  • On a shrub such as Daphne, you can lightly spray horticulture oil on the foliage in early spring to eliminate any aphid eggs.

Herbicidal Spray Damage

Have you sprayed any of the neighboring plants with herbicides recently? If the leaf curls/distortions are only on one side(most probably the side which gets wind), then it is herbicidal damage.

Herbicidal spray damage is not that easy to diagnose. You need to rule out other possible causes like pests. Also, did the symptoms appear just after a day you sprayed herbicide on other plants?

If the herbicide is 2,4-D then the damage will be minimal and the plant will recover. If the herbicide went into the plant’s soil then the damage will be long-term.

To fix: You can’t do much, just water the plant adequately. Care extra for the affected plant and it may recover yet.

Why are my Daphne Leaves turning Brown?

Daphne leaves may turn brown or develop brown spots. This happens in various cases, let’s look at them one by one.

Hard freeze

Daphne’s leaves turn brown after a hard freeze. Once the foliage burns this way, all the leaves fall off in many cases.

You need not panic. The plant will recover itself with time. Just do not prune the plant for a year.

Root Rot

Overwatering is bad for Daphne plants. It may cause waterlogged conditions. Such conditions cause root rot fungus to thrive.

Phytophthora is a fungus that causes root rot in many plants. Signs include yellowing/browning of leaves and loss of vigor as the plant can’t absorb nutrients.

To fix: 

  • Replant the affected plant in fresh soil with good drainage.
  • Gently wash the affected plant’s roots and cut off the affected roots of the infected plant with a sterilized pair of scissors.

Twig Blight

This is a disease caused by a fungus. Tips of the branches turn brown and die back if affected by this fungus.

The disease is dangerous and can kill the entire plant. This disease usually affects unestablished plants(less than 5 years old).

Prune affected branches and twigs, and burn them in late winter. When watering keep the hose close to the ground, do not wet the leaves.

To treat:

  • Spray the plant with copper fungicide or lime sulfur fungicide once you notice early symptoms.
  • Prune the plant well to increase air circulation. Sterilize the tools well so as to not spread the disease around.
  • The fungus spreads via spores. These spores overwinter in the mulch. So, to prevent a future outbreak, replace the mulch with a fresh mulch.

Leaf Spots

Some types of fungi may cause brown leaf spots that appear on both sides of the leaves. These brown spots turn yellow and wilt. Such leaves die after a while.

To fix:

  • Cut off affected leaves and dispose of them.
  • Spray the affected plant with a copper fungicide as instructed on the label.

Why is my Daphne plant going yellow?

Are your Daphne plant’s leaves yellowing and falling off? It may be an indicator of poorly draining soil. Waterlogged conditions lead to such signs.

Water your plant less if this indeed is the problem. Check the soil with fingers if you are still unsure.

Magnesium Deficiency

If watering didn’t cause yellowing foliage, then Magnesium deficiency might be the culprit.

Magnesium deficiency is quite common in plants that are grown in pots. It is not that common in plants that grow in the garden.

Signs: Leaves become yellow in between the veins. Veins remain green.

To fix: You can add Epsom salts to the soil to fix this deficiency condition. Dilute Epsom salts in water and then use it. I used two teaspoons in a gallon of water and it worked well. Contact your horticultural officer if you have any queries regarding this.

Note: It may just be a natural process. Do you see new foliage developing on the plant? If yes, there is no need to panic.

Daphne Sudden Death Syndrome

This disease is the reason why Daphnes aren’t kept widely in gardens/indoors. This is caused by a fungus and the plant dies without any warning signs.

There’s not much you can do to treat this disease. You can avoid running into this issue if you use resistant varieties.

Daphne tangutica and Daphne retusa are quite resistant to this disease. I hope you don’t run into this issue.

Why is my Daphne losing its leaves?

Daphnes may lose leaves and regrow them in the spring. But are your evergreen varieties losing leaves too? And at the wrong time of the year?

Daphne plants do not appreciate full sunlight and frosty winds. Both conditions will burn the leaves and then cause defoliation.

They get hurt easily due to drought, transplanting, or waterlogged conditions. You need to care well for your Daphne if you want those fragrant blooms.

They do not like sudden changes in environmental conditions too. If the plant is in clay soil, try to shift the plant into raised beds or soil with better drainage.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ll try to answer the most commonly asked questions regarding Daphne plants here. Hope this helps a lot of my readers.

Does Daphne grow in shade?

Daphnes thrive in partial shade conditions. They despise full sun conditions.

How often should you water daphne?

First of all, make sure the soil in which your plant has good drainage. You may water the plant fortnightly. Deepwater the plant when you water them.

What is the best fertilizer for Daphne?

Mix compost into the soil where you plan to plant Daphne. This is good for the nutrition of the plant and also improves drainage of the soil.

You can use shredded leaves, wood chips to lay a mulch of 3-6 inch depth. If you want to fertilize your plant so badly, use the 10-10-10 mixture after diluting it well.

Is Epsom salt good for Daphne?

Epsom salt is good for Daphne especially if it’s suffering from Magnesium deficiency. You can use the Epsom salt after diluting it a little bit.

That’s all for today. You now know that caring well for the plant will prevent all the above-discussed problems. Maintain the health of the plant and you’ll be rewarded with fragrant flowers.