10 Fragrant Plants for Your Garden

fragrant flowered

Outdoor spaces are unique and charming in a way that reflects the people who create them. Sometimes, that charm is a product of fragrant flowers that cause you to, literally, stop and smell the roses. When starting your own fragrant garden, consider these flowering plants listed below.

Maximizing your fragrant garden

To maximize a fragrance’s effect in your garden, it’s important to choose complementary scents. You’ll want to avoid planting a light, sweet-scented flower next to a bold, fruity scent. Also, make sure to disperse scented plants throughout your garden so not to overwhelm a particular area. Just as differing scents in one garden can be a bad thing, too much of one scent can also be a bad thing as it will attract pests to that area and potentially wipe out the entire flower bed.

Moist soil promotes fragrance in flowers, but wind can dim its effects. Ensure that your flowers have their opportunity to shine by keeping the soil in your garden beds well watered, and planting them in a protected area to lock in the fragrance. This can be achieved by adding enclosures such as fences, hedges, or arbors.

Fragrant plants:

1. Gardenia


USDA zone: 7 through 11

Planting season: Fall

Flowering season: May-June, sporadically in summer

Common pests and diseases: whiteflies, nematodes, root rot, powdery mildew, stem canker, bud drop

Gardenias are an evergreen shrub adorned with white, showy flowers which produce feminine, fresh floral scents. Best planted in light to part shade, they prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. 

An acidic, well-drained soil is best for gardenias, with a pH less than 6.0, and two to three inches of pine straw, compost, or ground bark used as mulch to lock in moisture. Fertilize them lightly in the spring with an extended-release, acid-forming, azalea fertilizer in the ratio 2-1-1, and again six weeks later to encourage abundant and fast growth.

These plants are cold-sensitive and deer-resistant but can be grown in colder climates with proper care.

2. Magnolia


USDA zone: 7 through 11

Planting season: early spring

Flowering season: summer

Common pests and diseases: magnolia scale, leaf spot, stem canker, verticillium wilt

Magnolias are evergreen trees which produce a creamy, floral, sweet scent and huge, waxy, white blooms. These blooms prefer full sun to part shade, but most importantly they need to be shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Magnolias grow best in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic, rich soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. When planting, lay a two- to three-inch layer of organic mulch, like pine needles. Don’t fertilize until the plant is established. Then, provide a light, infrequent application of a balanced fertilizer (equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) during the first three growing seasons, will accelerate its growth.

An inch of water per week should be sufficient for magnolia trees and, once well-established, they tend to be more drought-tolerant.

3. Freesia

Freesia is a white flower that has shorter flowers than a daylily, but the plant itself often looks similar.
Senet | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

USDA zone: 9 through 11

Planting season: fall

Flowering season: spring

Common pests and diseases: aphids, snails and slugs, bacterial soft rot, fusarium wilt, iris leaf spot

Freesias are herbaceous plants which grow from a corm. They produce single or double flowers in blue, purple, white, orange, yellow, red, and pink. Depending on the variety, they emanate a sweet citrus scent with smoky notes. Although freesias prefer full sun, they can tolerate partial shade.

Freesias prefer moist, well-drained, slightly sandy soil with organic material. Garden-grown freesia will benefit from the use of a general-purpose fertilizer once a year, prior to its blooming season.

In cooler climates, freesia can be grown as annuals or houseplants.

4. Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum is a fragrant plant with tiny white flowers
Martina Vella 2002 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

USDA zone: annuals, 8; short-lived perennials, 9 through 11

Planting season: early spring, at last frost

Flowering season: late spring; rebloom in the early fall

Common pests and diseases: slugs, leafhoppers, whiteflies, flea beetles, downy mildew, club root, Rhizoctonia root, stem rot, white blister

Sweet Alyssum is an herbaceous, low-growing plant that come as either mat-forming annual varieties or short-lived perennials. They are commonly used as bedding plants. They produce white, red, violet, yellow, lilac and pink flowers, and a honey-like, sweet scent. In cool climates, sweet alyssum requires at least six hours of full sun, but can survive with part shade in warmer climates.

This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil. Sweet alyssum can be used as a live mulch or seasonal groundcover. Give them an inch of water per week, ensuring that the soil dries in between waterings. And don’t fertilize too heavily, as fertilization can promote more foliage than fragrant flowers.

5. Honeysuckle

. Honeysuckle

USDA zone: 5 through 9

Planting season: early spring, after last frost

Flowering season: late spring; some bloom until early fall

Common pests and diseases: aphids, European honeysuckle leafroller, honeysuckle sawflies, snowberry clearwing, leaf blight, powdery mildew, crown gall

Honeysuckle comes in a variety of far-reaching vines and arching shrubs with warm, citrus-y sweet scents, and notes of honey. They can be trained to climb up your house, trellis, pole, or fence, offering orange, yellow, white and bright pink flowers. While honeysuckle prefers full sun, it can survive in part shade with less flowering.

Honeysuckle likes acidic to moderately alkaline, well-drained, rich soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 8.0. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer, slow-release shrub and tree fertilizer, or organic plant food in the spring. Additionally, amend your soil with two to three inches of composted manure.

Honeysuckle plants are known to attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.

6. Phlox


USDA zone: 4 through 8

Planting season: early spring, after last frost; fall, at least one month before first frost

Flowering season: late spring to late summer

Common pests and diseases: caterpillars, lead miners, stem nematodes, leaf spots, southern blight, rust, stem canker

Phlox come in tall and medium height shrubs as well as low-growing or creeping phlox, which work great as ground covers. There are so many varieties, ranging from pink and white striped, to lilac-blue, and purplish-pink. Their scent is a sweet honey-almond or vanilla. The various types of phlox have different sun requirements. Tall phlox do best in full sun, and woodland species in part shade. 

They require a nutrient-rich, moist soil which needs regular watering, especially throughout the summer. Each spring, apply a thin layer of compost and two inches of mulch to retain moisture and keep the weeds at bay. Additionally, apply a balanced fertilizer just before the first bloom.

7. Dianthus

Mokkie | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

USDA zone: 4 through 9

Planting season: early spring, after last frost

Flowering season: summer

Common pests and diseases: aphids, grasshoppers, slugs and snails, sow bugs, rust, fungal crown rot

Dianthus come in varieties of creeping ground covers or 24-inch flowering stems. They make magnificent cut flowers with their pink, and purple, red and white flowers. A warm and spicy, clove-like scent emanates from dianthus’ petals. Although dianthus prefer full sun, they can tolerate partial shade. 

A well-drained soil with good air circulation is best for this plant and deep waterings, letting the soil dry out in between. Use a balanced fertilizer or a phosphate-rich tomato fertilizer a few times throughout the growing season.

Dianthus blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are edible.

8. Peony

A pink and peach peony covered in water droplets after a rain
Liz West | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

USDA zone: 3 through 8

Planting season: fall

Flowering season: late spring to early summer

Common pests and diseases: nematodes, japanese beetles, leaf blotch, botrytis blight, stem rot, tip blight, ringspot virus, verticillium wilt

Peonies are beautiful flowering shrubs which come in colors of purple, red, white, yellow and pink flowers. Their scents range from rose-like to lemon, and they bloom best with six to eight hours of full sun.

A fertile, humus-rich soil with a neutral ph is optimal for these shrubs. Mix the soil with compost and a light fertilizer at the time of planting, and you wont need to fertilize thereafter except once every couple of years in cases of poor soil.

9. Lilac

Purple lilacs at the Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York
LtPowers | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

USDA zone: 2 through 7

Planting season: fall

Flowering season: mid- to late spring

Common pests and diseases: aphids, leaf spot, leafroller, spider mites, mealy bugs, whiteflies, bagworm, tent caterpillar, ascochyta blight, bacterial blight, powdery mildew, shoot blight

Lilacs are a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that comes in varieties of lilac-purple with a heady, sweet scent, and hints of vanilla. They require at least six hours of full sun for best blooms. 

Plant lilac in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil with a pH near 7.0. Water when the top inch of soil becomes dry, spread a layer of compost and mulch, each spring, to retain moisture and control weeds, and use a balanced fertilizer in late winter.

10. Lily of the valley

Lily of the valley
liz west | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

USDA zone: 3 through 7

Planting season: spring, fall

Flowering season: spring, summer

Common pests and diseases: weevils, snails and slugs, spider mites, fungal leaf spot, leaf blotch, crown rot

Lily of the valley are low-growing, spreading plants with white or soft pink flowers and a fresh, watery, floral scent. They prefer to be planted in shade or partial shade.

The soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic to neutral. Keep it moist, making sure not to let the plant dry out, and amend your soil with aged manure or compost.

Lily of the valley also produces orange berries but take note that all parts of this plant are poisonous, therefore, the berries are inedible.


Q: How can I make my garden smell nice?

A: You can optimize the fragrance in your garden by enclosing the space with fences, 
shrubs, or arbors. Additionally, you can group similar scented flowers together like 
the sweet scents of alyssum, honeysuckle, and phlox.

Q: What is a strong-scented shrub?

A: Gardenias are an infamously beautiful, scented shrub.
When curating a fragrant garden, make sure to choose scents that complement each other, structure an enclosed area to help lock in the fragrance, and make sure to choose varieties which thrive in your hardiness zone.

When in doubt, always reach out to one of Lawn Love’s lawn care professionals for quality assistance.

Main photo credit: cultivar413 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Madeline Hoppe

Born and raised in Tampa, FL, Madeline Hoppe is a customer service expert with a deep respect for the written word. In her down time, she enjoys low-key nights watching movies with her family or heading to one of Tampa Bay's local beaches on a summery day.