Being in the garden can be a lovely, full sensory experience, but after years of focusing on visual appeal, the sense of smell is often overlooked. Here is your reminder that, while beauty is important, a garden is much more than its aesthetics.
The soothing sound of buzzing bees or bubbling water and the soft touch of velvety petals or fuzzy leaves are a big part of what makes time in the garden so joyful. And let's not forget scent! Adding fragrant flowers to your garden is a fantastic way to add another dimension of enjoyment to the garden experience.
Plus, when you turn to classic fragrant favorites like rose, lilac, daphne, and gardenia you also add a touch of nostalgia and a sense of history to your outdoor space. These timeless blooms have been beloved for centuries for their sweet scents and captivating beauty.
Treasured and time-tested fragrant flowers can evoke memories and emotions that have been passed down for generations, making your garden a truly personal and meaningful place. So don't hesitate to plant these classic blooms and experience their timeless beauty for yourself.
Here are the best flowers for creating an oasis that appeals to all the senses, including your sense of nostalgia.
Best Fragrant Flowers for Aroma and Nostalgia
Start your growing season with the sweet and spicy scent of daphne blooms. A favorite fragrance for gardeners in temperate growing zones (Zones 6 or 7-9), daphne shrubs bloom in early spring and offer an intoxicating fragrance, tidy habit, and beautiful flowers. Their compact habit and love of partial shade make them perfect for planting near entryways and patios, where their scent can be easily enjoyed.
A beloved fragrant classic across the United States, lilac shrubs are hardy, easy to grow, and a favorite beacon of spring in colder growing zones, where the intense floral scent is intrinsically linked with the feeling of spring. Use larger varieties as a privacy screen or hedge, and look to compact varieties like Little Darling® to provide structure in a garden bed or border.
This upright, compact lilac blooms later than others, extending the season with deep purple buds that reveal clusters of highly fragrant, lavender-blue flowers. Hardy, yet performs in southern regions, with excellent powdery mildew resistance. Partial to full sun. Up to 8' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
What's better than a fragrant lilac? One that blooms twice a year! Large clusters of dark-purple buds open to classic lilac-hue flowers. Blooms heavily in spring, with a second, lighter bloom set in fall. Compact, with a nicely rounded shape. Tolerates mild, periodic drought when established. Full sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
Extend the lilac season with this extremely cold hardy, early-blooming variety. Deep maroon-purple buds open in early May to fragrant, deep-violet blooms 7 to 10 days before common lilac varieties bloom. Plant near a window or pathway where the fragrant flowers can be enjoyed. Full or partial sun. Up to 10' tall and wide. Zones 2-7.
Scented roses are back! Finally, we've hit the jackpot with roses that are both fabulously fragrant and disease resistant. The time-honored romance of fragrant roses is here to stay with new roses that offer exceptionally fragrant blooms and that beautiful, traditional rose look. Eau De Parfum™ shrub roses and Heavenly Ascent® climbing roses are highly anticipated and delightfully fragrant roses that recently hit the market. Plus, these roses begin blooming in spring and will bloom continuously until the first frost, making them the longest-blooming scented flowers available.
A smaller climber with large, very fragrant pink flowers that bloom abundantly and continuously. Trained onto a trellis, it provides a colorful vertical accent and a classic cottage garden look. This own root variety has shown good disease tolerance. Bloom continuously from spring through fall. Full sun. Up to 8' tall with support. Zones 5-9.
Big, delightfully fragrant blooms provide the classic romance of roses with the added benefit of disease resistance. Champagne-colored blooms form a lovely bud, then slowly unfurl to their full glory. Bloom repeatedly from early spring until the first frost. Full sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 5-10.
Finally, fragrant roses are back! Large, fragrant fuchsia blooms provide the classic romance of roses with the added benefit of disease resistance brought to you by modern breeding. Blooms repeatedly from early spring until first frost. Full sun. Up tp 4' tall and wide. Zones 5-10.
Jasmine is well-known around the world for its pleasant smell, which is often used in perfumes, soaps, and candles. This exotic, scented flower is often described as honey-like, sweet, or even fruity. Jasmine is a tropical plant that can be grown as an annual in cool climates, but it really shines when planted somewhere in the garden where all can enjoy its fabulous fragrance.
Clusters of fragrant, pure white, tubular flowers contrast nicely with the dark green, leathery leaves. This handsome vine will twine upwards with a trellis or fence support. An excellent container plant; move indoors or protect when temperatures begin dropping. Partial sun. Up to 15' tall with support. Zones 10-11.
Large, highly scented, fully double flowers will fill the garden with fragrance. Glossy evergreen foliage on a compact form creates an attractive clipped hedge for mild climates, where this tropical shrub may bloom nearly year-round. Partial to full sun. Up to 8' tall, 4' wide. Zones 9-11.
Gardenia is often the first fragrant flower named as a favorite by gardeners in warm growing zones (Zones 7-11). That's because the fresh, floral scent of gardenia isn't overpowering or cloying, so the fragrance is favored by even the most sensitive noses. Plus, who can resist those big, velvety, pure-white blooms? Gardenias are beautiful in a variety of forms and placements; from containers to hedges, patio trees to rounded shrubs, you can't go wrong with a gorgeous, fragrant gardenia.
Wonderfully fragrant, large, white, double blooms are larger than any other gardenia and the first to bloom. This superior grafted selection thrives due to rootstock that is nematode resistant, tolerates poor soils, and more readily takes up soil nutrients. Partial to full sun. Up to 8' tall, 6' wide. Zones 8-11.
Prolific, large, sweetly fragrant, velvety white blooms and lustrous evergreen foliage on a rounded shrub that forms a beautiful natural hedge, screen, or container accent. Patio tree forms are especially effective in formal designs. Partial to full sun. Up to 5' tall, 3' wide. Zones 8-11.
A wonderful flowering evergreen hedge or foundation plant with lustrous, dark green foliage and large, fragrant, white flowers. A more upright habit and more tolerant of direct sun exposure than other gardenias, with flower buds that resist late-spring frosts without damage. Partial to full sun. Up to 5' tall, 4' wide. Zones 7-11.
A celebrated plant for its famous fragrance, calming effect, and easy-going attitude, lavender is perfect for keeping the scented magic going through the summer. While most fragrant flowers have finished their bloom come the hot days of summer, lavender is just revving up with a profusion of richly fragrant flowers and foliage. Whether it's a pollinator, cutting, herb, or waterwise garden, lavender is right at home nearly anywhere — just be sure to plant it somewhere where you can stop to smell the flowers as often as possible.
A rugged yet beautiful compact evergreen shrub with mounding, aromatic, gray foliage and an abundance of fragrant, rich lavender-colored flower spikes. Commonly used for perfumes, sachets, and oils. Dried sprigs will deter insects when placed in a closet or room. Full sun. Up to 18" tall and wide. Zones 5-9.
An early flowering variety with a profusion of large purple flowers, deep-purple bracts, and a robust, rounded, mounding habit of fragrant, gray-green foliage. Great carefree, heat and drought-tolerant color and evergreen texture for sunny borders and containers. Full sun. Up to 20" tall, 18" wide. Zones 7-9.
Elegant, sweetly fragrant mounds of silver foliage yield purple-blue flower spikes with outstanding ornamental and edible qualities. This cold-hardy lavender does not die back in the winter like other varieties and is notable for its disease resistance and heat and humidity tolerance. Full sun. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
More Fragrant Favorites for Sweet Spring Scents
This Dan Hinkley selection features a blanket of small, fragrant, white flowers that are a welcome beacon of spring. The dense, tiny, toothy, leathery, dark green foliage has bright green new growth. Works well for an informal or neatly clipped shrub for a hedge, screen, or foundation planting. Plant near walks and entrances to enjoy the fragrance. Partial to full sun. Up to 5' tall, 4' wide. Zones 7-9.
Gorgeous, large, double flowers stand above the vigorous, lush, toothed, green foliage on sturdy stems that require no staking. The epitome of romance with pleasantly fragrant, slightly spicy blooms of soft apricot petals, blended reddish purple tips, and yellow centers. A wonderful addition to any spring bouquet. Partial to full sun. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.
Few North American native plants are as fragrant as Mock Orange. This excellent selection has an abundance of blooms on a naturally rounded form. Some say the heavy fragrance is reminiscent of grape soda. Excellent as a screen or informal hedge. Partial to full sun. Up to 6' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
Learn More About Creative Ways to Use Plants
- The Meaning of Flowers: Use these flowers to share your feelings
- Captivating Foliage and Flowers for Your Perennial Cutting Garden
- "Shades of Beautiful" garden color guide
- Perfecting the Art of Plant Combinations
- Guide to Easy and Colorful plants
- Using Layers to Wow in a Low-Water Shade Garden
- Create an Enchanting Garden Where the Whole Family Can Play
- Rare and Unique Flowers for Collectors
- Find large, healthy Monrovia plants at your local Monrovia retailer.
- Sign up for the Grow Beautifully newsletter. You'll get first access to exclusive plants, new editions, live webinars, free digital guides, expert design advice, and gardening tips.