Fragrant Plants


Witch Hazel or Hamamellis 'Pallida'

Fragrant Plants


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.

Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green' (Male)
Deciduous Azaleas produce heavy scent in June
Sarcococca confusa is sweetly scented in early spring

Scented Plants For Specific Places


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


Honeysuckle or Lonicera is scented in early summer when in flower
Many of our Daphnes proce heavy scent when in bloom
Some Lilies are more fragrant then others

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 B
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'
Boswellia carteri
Calamitha grandiflora
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
Dictamnus alba (syn. D. fraxinella)
Heliotropium peruvianum
Hesperis matronalis
Lathyrus odoratus
Lupinus arboreus
Matthiola bicornis
Monarda didyma
Nepeta mussinii
Paeonia emodi
Paeonia mlokosewitschii
Plox paniculata
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