“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” – Helen Keller
When most people think of fragrant flowers, I would assume roses come first to mind. Roses have such a wide array of colors and bloom types and growing habits and, yes, also fragrance. So, though Shakespeare wants us to believe differently, a rose by any other name does not necessarily smell as sweet. Actually there are roses with no scent at all. Peggy Martin is one very popular variety of pink climbing rose that has no scent. So, if you are trying to grow fragrant plants, and you are planning to use roses, be sure to smell the blooms before you purchase your plants. Also, check the temperature and time of day when you sniff the blooms. Some roses have stronger scents in cooler weather and some have stronger scents in the mornings. So, do a little research before picking your roses.
The following are just a few fragrant rose varieties that you can find at Maas Nursery.
Fragrant Cloud – Coral or red orange blooms, Strong sweet spice and rose scent
Double Delight – Red blooms with cream interior, Strong spicy rose scent
Don Juan – Red climbing rose, Strong rose scent
Cecile Brunner – Pink Climbing rose, Moderate tea scent
Chrysler Imperial – Velvety, dark red blooms, Strong Damask rose scent
Bulls Eye – Cream or Ivory flowers with cranberry centers, Moderate sweet spice scent
White Licorice – Yellow blooms (more yellow when cool), Licorice and lemon scent
Belinda’s Dream – Pink blooms, Moderate fruity scent
Iceberg – White blooms, Mild honey scent
Beyond roses, there are many choices of very fragrant plants to use in your landscape.
More choices to add fragrance to your garden:
Nicotiana – This plant is also known as flowering tobacco. Grows to 48″ in sun to part shade. Can bloom all year and blooms range in colors including white and pink.
Sweet Alyssum – This plant blooms in clusters of very fragrant flowers (colors can be white, pink or purple). This annual is a prolific bloomer all year and some varieties can be grown as short-lived perennials.
Almond Verbena – White blooms from mid spring to mid fall. Fast growing typically to 10′ tall, but can grow larger if conditions allow. Full sun to part shade.
Banana Shrub – Creamy-yellow flowers that have a banana scent. This shrub blooms during the warm seasons. Slow growing, 6′-10′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.
Brunfelsia – Also known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Very fragrant purple flowers fade to violet and then white over a period of days. Some varieties only grow to 4′ tall and wide and others 3′ to 8′ tall and 4′ -6′ wide. Part sun.
Buddleia – Also known as Butterfly Bush. Most varieties are purple flowering and bloom summer through fall. Butterfly bush ranges in size from 3′ to 7′ tall and 3′ to 5′ wide. Full sun.
Butterfly Ginger – This ginger blooms white from mid summer to early fall. Best grown in sun to part shade. This ginger will grow 4′ to 6′ tall.
Crape Jasmine – White blooms through spring and summer. Fragrance is stronger in the evening. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.
Gardenias – There are many varieties of Gardenias and they range in size from Radicans (6″ to 12″ tall and 2′ to 3′ wide) to First Love (5′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 6′ wide). First Love blooms late spring through early summer, Radicans and Frost Proof bloom in the summer and August Beauty blooms through spring through fall. Most people are familiar with the stark white blooms and amazing fragrance of gardenias.
Geraniums (lemon scented) – Blooms in summer with light pink to pruple flowers. It’s the foliage with the lemon scent that you smell. Grows 18″ high and wide. Part to full sun.
Natal Plum- White flowers are very fragrant and this plant will bloom all year in sun to part shade. Fruits will form on this plant, but leaves and flowers are poisonous.
Mock Orange – Blooms white flowers in April and May. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Full to part sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Night Blooming Jessamine (aka Night blooming cestrum or night blooming jasmine) – Very small greenish white flowers bloom in the summer. Grows to 8′ to 10′ tall and 3′ wide. Part to full sun. Blossoms only open at night.
Pineapple Sage (Tender perennial) – Blooms are showy red flowers in late spring to fall. The foliage has a pineapple scent and can be used in drinks and foods. Grows 3′ to 4′ tall and wide. Full sun.
Pittosporum – Pittosporum shrubs bloom with very small clusters of orang-blossom scented flowers in spring. The Japanese Mock Orange variety can grow to 10′ to 12′ tall and wide. The Variegated Japanese Mock Orange grows 6′ to 8′ tall and wide or even larger with age. Wheeler’s Dwarf Pittosporum grows 2′ to 3′ tall and 4′ to 5′ wide. All like part to full sun.
Sweet Olive – Small white blooms in the spring that are very fragrant. This plant likes morning sun and afternoon shade. It can grow to 10′ tall if un-pruned.
Viburnums- Eastern snowball viburnum blooms masses of white flowers though summer. It will grow 12′ tall and 10′ wide or larger with age. This shrub requires part to full sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Arabian Jasmine (can be considered a shrubs as well) – The fragrant white flowers open at night and bloom June through September. This plant will reach 6′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 4′ wide. Part to full sun.
Carolina Jessamine – Blooms bright yellow flowers in late winter to early spring. This vine will grow to 20′ with support. Part to full sun.
Confederate or Star Jasmine – Very fragrant white flowers from spring to summer. This vine can reach 18′ to 20′ with support or 1′ to 2′ as groundcover. Part to full sun.
Honeysuckle – Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle has white to yellow flowers that bloom in the summer. This plant can be grown as a vine to 15′ tall or groundcover to 2′ tall. Full sun. Trumpet Honeysuckle has trumpet-shaped scarlet-orange flowers and blooms spring through fall. It grows fast to 20′ long. Part to full sun.
Rangoon Creeper- Also known as Drunken Sailor, this plant blooms in clusters of red flowers that fade to pink from late spring to mid fall. Can grow to more than 40′ in sun to part shade. This is a tender perennial.
Pink Jasmine – Very fragrant light pink flowers spring to early summer. Will grow to 20′ long. Full sun.
Wisteria – The Texas Purple Japanese Wisteria blooms purple flower clusters in the spring. This is a fast growing, deciduous vine that will grow to 25′ long. This vine likes full sun. Amethyst Falls Wisteria is also deciduous and will to 10′ long. This vine blooms with purple racemes in late spring and repeats lightly through summer. This vine likes part to full sun. Evergreen Wisteria blooms late summer to early fall and will grow to 15′ long in full sun. Evergreen Wisteria has been described as having a camphor-like scent.
Angels Trumpet – These small trees can grow in sun to part shade. Blooms can be pink, white, yellow or orange and appear from summer to early fall. They usually grow 6′ to 8′ tall and these are poisonous plants. Angels Trumpet flowers are most fragrant in the early evening.
Citrus – All varieties of citrus trees produce fragrant flowers before they fruit.
Magnolia – Brackens Brown Beauty is a moderate grower to 50′ tall and 30′ wide in full sun. This variety blooms in late spring. The creamy white flowers are very fragrant. Little Gem Magnolia is a slow growing, evergreen tree with creamy white flowers from late spring to early fall. This tree grows to an average of 50′ tall. Sweet Bay Magnolias are moderate growers to 20′ tall and wide in part sun. The creamy-white, lemon scented flowers appear through the summer.
Texas Mountain Laurel – This small shrub or tree blooms purple blooms in the spring that smell like grape soda. This plant prefers full sun and is slow growing to 10′ to 15′ tall and 8′ to 10′ wide. Can also be trained on an espalier or grown as a patio tree. Once established, it will only need occasional watering.
The above list is in no way complete. There are too many plants with beautiful/magical scents to list them all. Start here, but do your own research too. Don’t hesitate to add some wonderfully scented plants around your home. Or, maybe even plan a whole fragrant garden complete with a spot to sit and enjoy the perfumes of your labor.
Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the most potent and the least understood. Its effects can be either direct and immediate, drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapor, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and coloring our thoughts.
Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991