All About Fragrant Plants

Table of Contents

Neuroscientists discovered years ago that, among the human senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell), scents are the most powerful trigger for long-term memories. This is because the processing of smells takes a more direct route to the brain and the memory structures within it. This knowledge explains why the scent of fragrant plants can instantly take us back to a special occasion, person or place in time.
With the abundance of options involved when designing a flower garden or landscape, it’s easy to overlook fragrance in favor of color, form, or texture. We have tips for making your garden not just beautiful, but memorable, by incorporating flowering plants that perfume the air with unforgettable fragrance.

Choosing Plants with Fragrant Flowers

Whether you are looking for fragrant flowering annuals, perennials, shrubs or vines, we have tips for selecting the most fragrant plants to incorporate into your garden design. If you’re short on space, many fragrant plants can be grown in containers and placed near seating areas where their scent can be fully enjoyed.

young girl smelling lilac flowers on tall lilac shrubs
10 Shrubs that Smell as Good as They Look

Improve your home’s curb appeal with fragrant shrubs that look great and
smell even better!

close up of purple flower clusters on a lush lilac vine (Hardenbergia violacea)
8 Sweet Smelling Vines to Grow this Year

Make the most of vertical spaces
with flowering, fragrant vines.

large urn planter filled with blue pansies and white sweet alyssum plants on a patio
Fragrant Plants for Containers

Mix and match fragrant plants to
create a perfumed planter for your deck, patio or balcony.

lush patch of lily of the valley plants growing in the shade of a large tree
How to Plant a Fragrant Shade Garden

Shade-loving plants with fragrant
flowers create a heavenly-scented shade garden.

beautiful summer flower border in full bloom with a mixture of different flower varieties
Create a Fragrance Garden

Discover ten plants that will add exceptional
fragrance to your landscape.

outdoor seating area under a pergola surrounded by perennial flowering plants and garden art
Ideas to Create a Sensory Garden

Learn how to create a garden space that will delight all the senses.

12 Easy to Grow Fragrant Garden Plants

Planting just a few of these intensely scented flowers can change the whole mood of a garden with their distinctive fragrances.
close up of pink hyacinth flowers in full bloom

Plant hyacinth bulbs in fall to enjoy flowers every spring.

close up of lily of the valley flowers in a garden
Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley makes a fragrant groundcover for shady spaces.

close up of pink carnation plants in a garden

Carnation’s clove-scented flowers are popular for cut bouquets.

close up of soft pink oriental lily flowers in full bloom
Oriental Lily

Lily’s big, exotic blooms produce an intensely sweet fragrance.

close up of pink sweet pea flowers in full bloom
Sweet Pea

Annual and perennial sweet pea varieties are available.

close up of stock plants in a colorful range of pink, purple, red, and lavender blooms

Stocks are a favorite for adding fragrance to cut flower arrangements.

beautiful heliotrope plant in full bloom in a patio planter

Heliotrope’s sweet-smelling flower clusters are loved by butterflies and other pollinators.

a carpet of sweet alyssum plants with purple and white flowers in full bloom
Sweet Alyssum

Alyssum’s tiny flowers create a carpet of color and fragrance.

close up of colorful fragrant petunias in red, pink, white and lavender

Put potted petunias near seating areas where their light scent can be enjoyed up close.

close up of clusters of lavender-colored lilac blooms on a shrub
(Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac is a classic scent for perfumes, toiletries and candles.

close up of a flowering branch of a fragrant olive shrub
Fragrant Olive
(Osmanthus fragrans)

Plant fragrant olive shrubs near a deck or patio to create a fragrant space.

close up of a fragrant white gardenia flower on the shrub
(Gardenia jasminoides)

Gardenia flowers are a familiar sight and smell in Southern gardens.

Plant Herbs to Add Fragrance to a Garden, Deck or Patio

Herbs are easy to grow and the oils in their foliage are a continuous source of fragrance. Many herbs have foliage that is not only aromatic, but their leaves are attractive enough to plant among flowering plants. Herbs also add fragrance and variety to a vegetable garden.
corner herb garden with rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, mint, and oregano backed by a brown stone wall
Learn more about how you can incorporate herbs in your landscape or container garden in All About Growing Herbs.


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