Fragrant Plants


Witch Hazel or Hamamellis 'Pallida'


By Howard Drury DHE(Hons)



This Fact Sheet is intended only as a brief guide to the use of scented plants in the garden, further information on this extensive subject can be found in some of the many books devoted to perfumed plants. Fragrance is an attribute sometimes overlooked when planning the garden border or patio display, but there are huge numbers of attractive flowers and shrubs which have the added attraction of a variety of scents. Fragrant and aromatic plants have a long history of use, particularly in connection with religious and magic ritual. Indeed, the word perfume derives from the Latin words "per" meaning through and "fumare" to smoke - a reference to the scented smoke which arose from ancient altars. Amongst the most commonly grown scented plants today are the herbs. Many gardens have plants of mint, lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme, often for culinary use but sometimes simply for their sweet smell

Today we can enjoy our scented plants in the home and garden or use leaves and petals to make pot-pourri and other sweet smelling items. It is not necessary to understand the formation and composition of scents to be able to appreciate the benefits of perfumed plants in the garden. Some are more heavily scented in the evening, others may not smell at all until the leaves or petals are bruised to release the fragrance. Trees, shrubs, bulbs, annuals, perennials - there are scented plants in every group so that the interested gardener can find something suitable for every garden situation. Even in winter there are a few plants which provide fragrance either in the garden or in a vase in the home.


The range of scented plants is so extensive that there are plants for every situation in the garden. However it is worth remembering that because the scent is often airborne, a sheltered area will retain its perfumes far better than a more exposed, windy site. Plants with aromatic leaves are often most effectively grown along paths, around doorways or seating areas where they will come into contact with passers by and release their scent. Containers sited against a warm wall will enhance the perfume of plants as the heat radiates from the brickwork. It is not necessary to have a garden to enjoy perfumed plants. Many houseplants are scented and the wide variety of containers now available whether for indoor or outdoor use, ensures that almost any plant can be grown in this way and enjoyed for its fragrance.

Many of our Loniceras or honeysuckle have very good scent


Some Roses have the most superb of all scents


Scented Plants For Specific Places


Abeliophyllum distichum Acacea dealbata
Actinidia chinensis 'Aurea-variegata' Acacea rhetinoides
Actinidia chinensis polygama Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles'
Clematis armandii Coronilla valentina
Clematis aromatica Cytisus battandieri
Clematis flammula Decumaria sinensis
Clematis montana Jasminum beesianum
Clematis paniculata Jasminus officinalis
Clematis rehderana Jasminus polyanthum
Clematis x triternata 'Rubromarginata' Jasminum x stephanense
Lathyrus odoratus Lonicera x americana
Passiflora caerulea Lonicera caprifolium & cvs
Plumbago capensis Lonicera x heckrottii
Rosa - too many to list Lonicera japonica
Schisandra chinensis Lonicera periclymenum & cvs
Stauntonia hexaphylla Trachelospermum sp
Vitis riparia Wisteria spp

Plants For Shady Places

Anthriscus cerefolium Bergenia spp
Buxus sempervirens Convallaria majalis
Daphne laureola Eleagnus spp
Daphne pontica Gaultheria procumbens
Hemerocallis spp & cvs Gaultheria shallon
Hypericum perforatum Ligustrum sinense
Osmanthus heterophyllus & cvs Phillyrea decora
Primula vulgaris Prunus laurocerasus
Rhododendron spp & hybrids Rubus spp
Sarcococca spp Smilacina racemosa

Plants For Heavy Soils

Abelia chinensis Aesculus spp
Abelia triflora Berberis sargentiana
Berberis vulgaris Chaemycyparis spp
Choisya ternata Crataegus spp
Cytisus spp Deutzia ssp and cvs
Eucalyptus spp Fraxinus ornus
Hamamelis spp Laburnum spp
Ligustrum ovalifolia Magnolia spp
Mahonia spp Malus spp
Osmanthus delavayi Osmanthus x fortunei
Osmanthus suavis Philadelphus spp and cvs
Populus spp Prunus spp
Rhododendron hybrids Roses
Skimmia japonica 'Fragrans' Thuya spp
Tilia spp Viburnum spp

Plants For Chalky Soils

Acanthus mollis Aesculus spp
Alyssum maritimum Bergenia spp
Buddleia alternifolia Buddleia davidii & cvs
Buddleia globosa Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles'
Cheiranthus cheiri Crambe maritima
Dianthus spp & cvs Dipelta floribunda
Erysimum spp Fraxinus ornus
Hemerocallis spp & cvs Hesperis matronalis
Iberis amara Inula spp
Juniperus communis & cvs Laurus nobilis
Lavandula angustifolia Lavandula stoechas
Lilium brownii Lilium duchartrei
Lilium regale Ligustrum spp
Lonicera spp Magnolia grandiflora
Magnolia wilsonii Malva moschata
Malus spp Melissa officinalis
Nepeta spp Oenothera spp
Olearia spp Philadelphus spp & cvs
Populus spp Romneya x coulteri
Roses (many) Salvia spp
Sambucus spp Sarcococca spp
Spartium junceum Syringa spp & cvs
Thuya occidentalis Thuya plicata

Plants For Dry Soils

 Acanthus mollis Acanthus spinosus
Alyssum maritimum Buddleia spp
Clerodendron spp Cytisus battandieri
Deutzia spp Eleagnus angustifolia
Genista spp Gleditsia triacanthos
Hebe cupressoides Hypericum frondosum
Hypericum perforatum Hyssopus offocianlis
Lonicera spp Lupinus arboreus
Olearia spp Robinia pseudoacacia
Rosa pimpinellifolia & cvs Rosmarinus officinalis
Salvia spp Ulex spp

Winter Flowering Scented Plants

Abeliophyllum distichum Acacia dealbata
Anthriscus cerefoilum Azara microphylla
Cydonia japonica Chimonanthus praecox
Crocus laevigatus fontenayi Cyclamen hederifolium
Daphne mezereum Galanthus nivalis
Hamamelis mollis Iris histrioides
Iris unguicularis Lonicera fragrantissima
Mahonia japonica Osmanthus fragrans
Ribes laurifolium Sarcococca hookeriana digyna
Viburnum spp

Plants With Scented Foliage

Acacia dealbata Achillea filipendulina
Achillea millefolium Acorus calamas
Althaea officinalis Angelica archangelica
Anthemis nobilis Anthriscus cerefolium
Artemisia abrotanum Artemisia absinthium
Artemisia camphorata Artemisia dracunculus
Borage officinalis Boswellia carteri
Calamitha grandiflora Calendula officinalis
Choisya ternata Chimonathus praecox
Cistus ladanifer Citrus spp
Dictamnus albus Drimys lanceolata
Elsholtzia stauntonii Escallonia rubra macrantha
Eucalyptus spp Filipendula ulmaria
Helichrysum angustifolium Helichrysum italicum
Humea elegans Humulus lupulus
Hypericum most spp Hysoppus officinalis
Lavandula spp Lippia citriodora
Melissa officnalis Mentha spp
Monarda didyma Monarda fistulosa
Myrrhis odorata Myrtus spp
Origanum spp Osmanthus fragrans
Pelargonium 'Clorinda' Pelargonium fragrans
Pelargonium graveolens Pelargonium 'Mabel Grey'
Pelargonium quercifolium Pelargonium radula
Pelargonium tomentosum Petroselinum crispum
Petroselinum sativum Pittosporum eugeniodies
Populus acuminata Populus balsamifera
Populus trichocarpa Ribes viburnifolium
Rosa eglanteria Rosmarinus spp
Ruta graveolens 'Jackman's Blue' Salvia spp
Santolina incana Saponaria officinalis
Tagetes spp Tanacetum vulgare
Teucrium chamaedrys Thuya plicata
Thymus spp

Bulbs and Corms

Anthericum liliago Convallaria majalis
Crinum x powellii Crinum moorei
Crocus ancyremsis Crocus chrysanthus
Cyclamenbalearicum Cyclamen purpurascens
Cyclamen persicum Freesia
Galanthus nivalis Galanthus candicans
Hyacinthus orientalis Iris histrioides
Iris florentina Iris pallida
Iris reticulata Iris unguicularis
Lilium auratum Lilium candidum
Lilium henryi Lilium longiflorum
Lilium parryi Lilium regale
Muscari armeniacum Muscari moschatum
Narcissus - Jonquilla Group Narcissus juncifolius
Narcissus - Poeticus Group Narcissus - Tazetta Group
Pancratium illyricum Tulipa sylvestris

Annuals, Biennials and Perennials

Achillea filipendulina Alyssum maritimum
Asperula odorata Calendula officnalis
Centaurea moschata Cheiranthus cheiri
Dianthus Dictamnus alba (syn. D. fraxinella)
Heliotropium peruvianum Hesperis matronalis
Lathyrus odoratus Lupinus arboreus
Matthiola bicornis Monarda didyma
Nepeta mussinii Paeonia emodi
Nicotiana Paeonia mlokosewitschii
Oenothera Plox paniculata
Polyanthus Primula veris
Primula florindae Primula vulgaris
Reseda odorata Viola odorata


 Allium Anethum graveolens
Artemesia abrotanum Artemesia camphorata
Anthemis nobilis Asperula odorata
Borage officinalis Chrysanthemum balsamita
Laurus nobilis Lavendula
Melissa officinalis Mentha
Ocimum basilicum Ocimum minimum
Origanum vulgare O. vulgare 'Aureum'
Rosmarinus officinalis Salvia officinalis
Thymus spp


The information given in this Fact Sheet is provided in good faith. It is however of necessity general information and advice on the topic. Howard Drury will not be under any liability in respect of the provision of such advice and information, and you are strongly advised to seek independent advice on any particular gardening problems or queries you may have, preferably from experts who can (when appropriate) inspect the problem before providing advice.

© 2022 This material has been produced by Howard Drury and must not be reproduced in part or full without the written consent of Howard Drury, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B13 0SJ.

Image is designed and maintained by Darren Hodson © 2022, The Drurys