The Best-Smelling Flowers to Plant

The Best-Smelling Flowers to Plant

Jan 26th 2023

The Best-Smelling Flowers to Plant

For many people, the fragrance of a garden or landscape is just as valuable as its looks. Scent is a big part of memory, so it's no surprise that the best-smelling flowers stand out in people's minds. They add an extra sensory level of beauty to your home that will make it more relaxing and more inviting to guests.

The aroma isn't just important to humans, either. Flowers with the most fragrance are usually the best pollinators. Plants rely on birds and insects to transfer pollen, which fertilizes the flowers so they can bloom. A strong smell is a natural way to attract these pollinators and increase a plant's chances of thriving.

Add in their impressive looks, and you already have three great reasons to choose fragrant flowers for your garden. In this blog, I've looked at some of the best-smelling flowers to plant on residential or commercial property. Their ability to improve your spiritual and mental well-being seals the deal for me.

I try to choose perennial flowering plants over annuals as I plan a permanent layout with the taller plants (possibly shrubs) in the back of the garden and the shortest flowering plants in the front. However, you can also create a great-smelling, pollinator-friendly landscape using annuals. I recommend choosing flowering plants that will give a succession of blooms from early spring through the end of summer, which gives them a lasting spread of beauty.

Taller Plants and Shrubs

Winter honeysuckle (lonicera sempervirens and lonicera fragrantissima) is a fragrant flowering shrub that can survive and flower in moderate climates from March through early summer. It grows to an average height and width of 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. This plant is also tough enough to be able to live through severe frost and snow. Although they mostly bloom from spring through midsummer, they will continue to put out their white flowers (just less so) into the fall.

Lilac bushes prefer cooler climates such as coastal areas of California, Oregon, and Washington as well as the Southeast and East coasts. They will need to be planted on a shady side of a house in hotter climates. These beautifully scented flowering bushes put out sprigs of the most aromatic and gorgeous flowers during the spring. They are deciduous and will flower profusely after the first few years, especially if you give them an early spring dose of a balanced fertilizer or compost that is not too high in nitrogen.

Gardenia is an evergreen shrub with waxy white flowers and shiny leaves. It has an intoxicating scent that is impossible to ignore. They need full sun with some shade in the afternoon. The optimal temperature for a gardenia bush is 65-70 degrees, so in many parts of the U.S., gardenias are grown as an indoor plant.

Rose bushes are woody perennial plants that can put out many aromatic and beautiful flowers starting in the spring, and with proper pruning (known as "deadheading"), they will flower throughout the summer. If you are planting a rose, it is a good idea to dig a hole two feet wide and deep and fill it with fresh compost or a balanced (NPK of 4-4-6) bagged soil. They like 7-8 hours of direct sun, but late afternoon shade is a good idea if you are in a hot and dry area. Roses really appreciate regular irrigation all summer long.

Viburnum flower from spring through early summer, preferring sun to partial shade and can be planted in a range of soil types. Their fragrant flowers bloom best in full sun. The plant can be a 4–6-foot shrub or a tree that grows 12-15 feet high. Viburnums have two types of flowers: the more common snowball type white round head and the flat flowers that resemble hydrangea flower heads. Butterflies love their flowers! Later in the season, the birds love their red, pink, black, blue, and purple berries.

Best Smelling Vines

Honeysuckle vine can grow to 12-20 feet long, putting out the most beautiful purple, pink and white flowers coupled with a very aromatic sweet scent. Full sun, an early spring dose of a low-nitrogen fertilizer and a well-draining soil are important to optimize your honeysuckle vine's vigorous growth and flowering. This is a drought-tolerant plant.

Jasmine is a vine type of plant that has the claim of being most fragrant vining plant. Its white flowers put out a strong, sweet, and distinctive smell. Many types of jasmine can only be grown in tropical climates, but the nurseries near you should offer the type of jasmine that will do well in your local climate. If you plant jasmine next to the open windows of your home, it can bring the most intoxicating smell imaginable inside. In Persia (Iran), where jasmine is thought to have originated, it is called "yasamin", meaning "the gift of God". In 1993, Arabian jasmine was declared the national flower of Indonesia. You too can enjoy and adore the aroma of jasmine.

Fragrant Perennial and Annual Flowers

Nicotiana is an annual plant that does best when it is grown in direct sun to partial shade. It puts out a tremendous amount of thin but long tubular flowers with a very sweet smell. Nicotiana Alata is the most fragrant variety, giving out a fragrance that permeates the air. This plant can also be planted in a pot and placed by a sunny window indoors.

Oriental lily, also known as lily "Stargazer", is a gorgeous flowering plant that is hardy down to zone 4. It is grown from a large bulb that will spread out over time and will enjoy being planted in a sunny area that is at least 3x3 feet. These flowers put out a perfume-like scent that has few rivals. You should keep their soil moist by placing 4-5 inches of mulch on top of the soil where it's planted.

Lily of the Valley is a woodland plant with many small drooping white bell-shaped flowers that put out a fragrant smell. It is happy in shaded areas but also thrives in partial shade and sun. In the wild, it often takes over when it spreads. All parts of this plant are poisonous if consumed but are not harmful if touched.

Hyacinth is a fragrant flowering plant available in a rainbow of colors. This plant grows from bulbs that each put out from one to four beautiful flowering spikes in the spring. Cut the flowers once they have faded (or before as a cut flower), and to benefit the bulb, keep the leaves on the plant to dry up, as the bulb will be forming a new flower at this time for next year's bloom. These plants are known as nature's perfume!

Daffodils have the smell of springtime and are best planted in the fall. As you probably know, they will bloom in the spring and early summer, come in quite a few colors, multiply quickly and will have multiple flowers from each bulb. They are not bothered by deer or rabbits and can be grown in sun or partial shade.

Heliotrope grows one to four feet high as annuals but can be perennial in zones 9 and 10. The purple flower heads turn to face the sun as it gives off a warm cherry-almond-vanilla-like fragrance. Heliotrope plants love to be fertilized regularly through the spring and summer.

Stock (also called hoary stock or common stock) is an annual flowering plant with flowers ranging in color from white to purple (sometimes pink or red) up to 30 inches long. It has a wonderful spicy scent.

Freesia flowers grow in sunny spots outdoors or indoors near a south-facing window. They are an easy-to-grow plant with an intoxicating scent. The flowers grow sequentially along the stem, allowing you a visually long flowering period. They are a frost tender perennial that needs to be sheltered in the northern climes or started in a greenhouse and set out after all danger of frost is past.

Be a pollinator propagator! Enjoy the fragrant smells of some of the flowers mentioned here as they benefit us in so many ways. Here are three more tips for selecting and growing the best-smelling flowering plants:

  • As mentioned, choose flowers that will give you a succession of blooms.
  • Plant them in a fertile bed of garden soil that is enriched with a balanced and aged compost.
  • Water them efficiently.

With the right plants and proper care, your property will look and smell great while being a haven for nature throughout the summer months. Check out to see how they can make gardening with flowers easy.