Fragrant Plants for Containers

Table of Contents

The invisible power of scent has a profound effect on our mood and it is one way to transform any garden space into an exciting area. In a container garden, using fragrant plants is also a way to get the most joy out of a small space. By carefully selecting plants based on their scents and the time of year they flower, a delightful potpourri is possible year round.

Sweet Scents by Season


In winter, Daphne is the queen of container gardens. Keep it happy with a lightweight potting mix, regular watering and afternoon shade. In turn it becomes covered with pinkish white flowers in January or February, which carry a smell rivaling the finest perfumes.

Winter Daphne


Each spring, Jasmine makes the stars shine a little brighter, as its fragrance is strongest at night and the pure white blossoms seem to glow in the moonlight. This fast-growing vine is easy to grow in a pot—trellis it against an outdoor wall or hang it up high and let the tendrils dangle in the breeze.



Summer is all about Dianthus, Phlox, and Petunias in a fragrance garden. Good choices for Dianthus are any of the colors in the Scent First ™ series, which come in variations of red, pink or white flowers. Their flowers have a strong spicy smell. Nearly all phlox are known for their sweet fragrance, but an exceptionally nice plant for pots is Annual Phlox. Its tidy mounded shape is perfect for filling in container combinations. Petunias are a traditional summer favorite for
gardens, baskets or planters. They’re low maintenance and bring a subtle sweet scent
to the air.

Phlox, Dianthus, and Petunia close up images


Fall is a time to look to cool weather annuals to end the year on a sweet-scented note. Alyssum, Trailing Pansies and Sweet Peas are a few fragrant varieties that flourish at this time of year. Their varied heights allow them to fit together nicely in a single pot for a seasonal display.

White Allysum, Blue Trailing Pansies and Sweat Pea Flowers

Savory Scents & Flavors all Year


The smell of Thyme, Oregano and Sage fit together in the garden as well as they do in the kitchen. Their fragrance complements the smell of sweet-scented flowers. Plus, their short stature allows them to live together with taller shrubs and vines in the same container. Because the smell of herbs comes primarily from the leaves, not the flowers, it provides its delicious fragrance all year round.

Thyme, Oregano and Sage in containers

Scented Geraniums

Scented Geraniums are a territory of their own in the world of fragrant plants. Choose from one of the apple, rose, lemon, chocolate or mint-scented varieties that are available for purchase. There’s also a geranium known as the mosquito plant, which contains a naturally occurring source of citronella and helps to keep the garden pest-free. Leaves are the source of a scented geranium’s delightful aroma, rather than the flowers, so they can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Scented Geranium
Now that you know some great fragrant plants for small spaces, we invite you to mix and match fragrances, plant sizes and flower colors to create a beautiful perfumed oasis on your deck or patio. The possibilities are endless for arranging containers with scented plants. Share some of your favorite pairings in the comments!

If you’re looking for more fragrant plants, here are ten plants you will want to try.


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