What gardener doesn’t love flowers that smell good? Ask a handful of gardeners what they think are the best smelling flowers, you will get a variety of answers. Despite the large variety of opinions on the most fragrant flowers, you will find that some of the answers are the same.
Rather than smelling the roses and other aromatic plants at your local nursery, let us tell you what the best smelling flowers on the planet are. No matter if you are picking out fragrant shrubs or fragrant bushes for your newly planted garden or are wanting cut flowers that smell good for a bouquet you are making, there are specific plants you should include in your planning.
These plants range from lavender, roses, and hyacinth to everything in between. The beauty of planting the most fragrant flowers is they will fill your backyard with a beautiful floral scent, and when used inside in beautiful floral displays, they will fill the air with a pleasant aroma.
What You Need to Know About Planting Flowers that Smell Good
Before you buy any flowers to plant, you want to make sure they will thrive in your area. You don’t want to plan and plant a beautiful garden only to find out half of your choices won’t make it.
The best way to determine if the plants will thrive in your area is to check the USDA hardiness zones. If you don’t know your zone, find it on the USDA’s website under the hardiness zone map.
Something else to keep in mind when planting fragrant flowers is that fragrance is a personal thing. Everybody has their preferred scents because we all have a different sense of smell.
The secret to planting a fragrant garden that you enjoy is merely using your nose. Smell the shrubs, bushes, and flowers and pick out the ones that smell good to you; ones that evoke positive feelings and moods.
Adding Fragrant Plants in your Garden
When it comes to creating a perfumed garden, you want it to smell as good as it looks. To do this, place fragrant bushes, shrubs, and flowers everywhere you can. Put plants inside pots next to your front door or create a flower bed underneath your bedroom windows.
Line the edges of walkways with flowers that smell good. The ideas are endless, but you also need to think about when the plants are at their most fragrant. Knowing when they are at their peak allows you to plan where you plant each bush so you can always enjoy them.
Types of Fragrances from the Most Fragrant Flowers
When it comes to fragrances offered by shrubs, bushes, and plants, there are four main categories. All fragrant plants are grouped into one of these four areas based on their specific properties. Understanding these profiles can help you design a fragrant garden that enhances your mental and physical well-being.
Woodsy – This scent helps with mental acuity and includes rosemary, cedar, balsam, etc.
Spicy – This scent is a muskier, sensual scent. Think of sage and roses.
Floral – This scent brings about relaxation, is often a sweeter smell, and is common in perfumes. Think of peonies, lily of the valley, etc.
Fresh – Another perfume related scent, but this one brings about mental and physical stimulation, a kind of refreshing scent. Think of mint, lavender, and citrus based scents. Some of these are plants that repel mosquitoes.
Plan Your Garden Around Bloom Times
Bloom times are essential when it comes to designing your fragrant garden as it allows you to know when the flowers will be at their peak in terms of scent. For a fragrance that lasts year-round in the correct zones, plant bulbs that bloom at different times throughout the growing season. For other areas, pick the plants that bloom during your active growing season for optimal fragrance.
14 of the Best Smelling Flowers
Best Smelling – Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis)
As the name suggests, this multi-stemmed shrub, often referred to as a tree, is not a real orange but a Mock Orange. The bush emits a citrus scent from its small white flowers. These shrubs grow up to 12 feet high and 12 feet wide.
The plant requires full sun with well-draining soil and grows well in zones 4 through 8. A southeast European native this plant blooms beautifully during the springtime.
Always smell the plant before buying at your local nursery, as not all are equally fragrant. They work great when planted along a large border as they can form a privacy hedge. Blossoms from the shrub make great cut flowers.
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Sweet Pea works as an annual in all USDA zones, but they bloom best in areas with cooler summers. The look of Sweet Pea provides a cottage feel to your garden. The blossoms emit a sweet fragrance and do best when grown on bamboo tripods, but can also grow as a shrubby plant or a clumping mound that reaches up to 2 ½ feet tall.
Sweet Pea varieties need fertile, well-draining soil and enjoy the partial shade in warmer climates. Blooms often appear in late spring or early summer, depending on the time planted and the variety chosen. Deadheading the spent flowers or cutting the new blooms encourages the Sweet Pea plant to continue blooming.
Heliotrope (Heliotropium) – Fragrant Plant
Heliotropes offer a sweet scent from their blossoms, described as a vanilla-cherry-almond scent. They can grow as a perennial or an annual based on your desired growing location – areas with frost have annuals. The five-lobed clusters of flowers are similar in looks to a forget-me-not and can reach up to four feet in height unless you select a dwarf variety.
The flowers of this plant turn towards the sun as they crave the sunlight, although the plant can do reasonably well in partial shade. You need well-draining soil that you keep moist. The plant can be grown from seed or from allowing cuttings to sprout roots.
Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia)
What makes Angel’s Trumpet so interesting is the size and shape of the flowers. These blooms grow up to 10 inches and form the shape of a trumpet. In just one growing season these bushes can reach up to six feet tall and will continue to grow taller the longer you keep it around.
When growing these plants, plant them in a self-watering pot as they require a lot of water. In late summer you will need to cut back on watering and move it indoors for storage before the first frost hits.
Store the plant in a dark room that stays 30 to 45°F. Keep the root ball a little moist throughout the winter and repot in the spring once nighttime temperatures won’t drop below 32°F.
Best Smelling Flowers – Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Most likely, you will smell the strong scent of the Lily of the Valley well before you see the plant. The smell is so strong and pleasant that it may mask any sewage smell in the house. The green leaves of the plant are paired with up to 15 tiny flowers in a bell-shape.
Lily of the Valley thrives in colder regions as it’s native to the Northern hemisphere. The green leaves stay year-round in colder climates but will dry up and fall off in hotter areas.
A highly poisonous plant, keep children and pets away from it if you plant it in your yard. The plant is on full display during May and spreads through rhizomes. If left alone, the plant spreads far and wide, so be careful when selecting its home.
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
The Sweet Alyssum plant is one of the few drought and heat tolerant annual plants that has become naturalized in the US. It thrives in various regions throughout the US and is known for its fragrance. These plants work well in dry zones, but can also be used along borders or inside planters and hanging baskets.
When growing Sweet Alyssum, you need well-draining soil that is kept moderately moist. Plant this beauty in full sun, but it will survive if planted in areas that receive a small amount of shade.
The plant is prone to botrytis blight and a few pest problems when not cared for correctly. For a beautiful display of blossoms, keep the stems trimmed back.
Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis ternifolia) – Flowers that Smell Good
A climbing vine that is known for its sweet smell, the Sweet Autumn Clematis multiplies in warm climates. The vines feature dark green leaves with billowy white flowers. White blossoms appear in the late summer and last until early fall. Once the flowers are gone silver looking seed heads appear.
The plant needs watering weekly, but during high temperatures, it needs more frequent watering. Sweet Autumn Clematis grows well in zones 4 through 9 and requires partial to full sun. As it is a climbing vine, the plant needs some support unless you plan to use it as a ground cover.
Kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans)
This plant is described as a large evergreen shrub or even a small tree that is native to Southern China. The bush offers dense branches of dark green foliage paired with small white clusters of flowers. The shrub emits a scent that smells like apricots and is perfect when planted near entrances and walkways so others can enjoy its fragrance.
The evergreen shrub does best in zones 8 through 11. The slow-growing plant reaches up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide, making it a natural privacy hedge. Plant Osmanthus fragrans in areas that receive full sun and minimal shade.
Make sure to water the plant weekly for optimal growing. Blooms appear in the spring so it would do well mixed with later blooming shrubs and flowers.
Fragrant Flowers – Oriental Lily (Lilium orientalis)
These late-blooming lilies do well with other lilies, as they don’t start blooming until August. The Oriental Lily is larger than the Asian Lily and is also more fragrant. Their fragrance and size make them a popular choice for gardeners who enjoy cutting flowers to bring inside their homes to create arrangements that act as a natural room deodorizer.
As these beautiful flowers can grow up to 6 feet tall, where you choose to plant them is essential. You want a location in full sun that provides them with plenty of space to grow.
They cannot have boggy soil, so make sure the flower beds you are considering offer excellent drainage. Cut off all flower stalks after blooms die off, leave the foliage in place until it begins to yellow and die.
As a woody perennial, there are over 300 types of rose species with thousands of cultivators to choose from, and not one of them is what attracts yellow jackets to your yard. Rose care is not as difficult as you think. For impressive flowers, plant them in well-draining soil in a sunny location.
Water bushes to keep the soil moist. Prune established bushes in the early spring before blooms start to appear.
Roses are known for attracting aphids, and other pests, along with powdery mildew, so keep a watchful eye on them so you can tackle any problem before it gets out of hand. You can find several classes of roses, including climbing roses and ground cover bushes, so make your choices carefully, and don’t overdo it.
Florida Anise Tree (Illicium floridanum) – Fragrant Shrubs
This upright evergreen shrub can reach up to ten feet tall, features a compact outline and is a member of the Star-Anise Family. The leaves are dark green on the surface and paler green underneath. When bruised, the leaves give off a pleasant aroma.
The maroon-purple flowers feature up to 30 petals that look like straps and offer a star-like appearance. The plant is native to moist habitats throughout Florida to East Louisiana, including swamp margins and seepage areas as well as wooded ravines.
When planted in areas with part shade in well-draining soils the flowers bloom in April and May. Pruning is necessary for the plants in their early years if you wish them to retain their shape.
Azalea (R. arborescens)
Growing and caring for Azaleas is easy, but you want to be mindful of a few things if adding these red flowers to your garden beds. For healthy looking and attractive shrubs plant them alone in a good location.
To set off their colors, place these shrubs in the background among conifers, such as pines. Plant in a lightly shaded area, as too much sun burns the leaves and too much shade deprives the shrub of oxygen.
Azaleas need highly acidic soil that offers excellent drainage due to their shallow root systems. They do best in raised beds or containers. Once blooming is over, trim back the shrub to encourage a bushier plant. Branches can also be cut back to prevent overgrowth.
Pinks (Dianthus) – Sweet Smelling Bush
When used in the garden these plants are part of a family of plants that work as an annual, biennial or perennial that is mainly native to Europe and Asia, although one species is native to North Africa. Also known as Pinks, Dianthus flowers grow best in zones 3 through 9 and offer blooms in shades of pink, in addition to red, white, and lilac.
This fragrant bush features blue-grey foliage that is attractive on its own; the blooms that appear in the spring and sometimes reappear in the fall only add to the beauty of the plant. Blooms are a single or double flower that looks like tiny carnations and do best when planted in locations that receive a lot of sunlight and minimal shade.
If you are wondering what plants repel flies, lavender should be on the top of your favorite flower list for that and many other reasons. As an herb, lavender has many uses within the kitchen but is also a pleasant addition to borders and gardens. The silvery-green foliage provides year-round color, while the upright spikes bloom from June to August.
Native to the Mediterranean, lavender thrives in the hotter, drier climates in the US but is successfully grown in zones 5 through 8. The woody bush needs well-draining soil and full sun. To improve drainage in your flower beds, mix some sand and gravel into the ground. A drought tolerant plant, lavender requires regular watering until fully established.
Thank you for learning all about fragrant plants for home gardens. We know not all flowers smell good to every person, so if you have found any of our flower suggestions helpful please take a minute to share these best smelling flowers with others on Facebook and Pinterest.