Flowers aren’t just for looks. Any gardener will tell you that flowers and other plants in the garden can also be for scent as well as good looks. Many people enjoy the beautiful fragrance of flowers around their homes and gardens and use them to accent their lives in more ways than just visual.
Where to Find Fragrant Flowers
Some varieties of flowers grown primarily for fragrance are specialty items you may not find at your local garden center or big box store. Some are mainly grown for sale to florists rather than home gardeners, so they’re harder to find commercially. Others are the everyday, common flowers we see all of the time and likely don’t think of as “fragrant.”
The best outlets for flowers of fragrance will depend on the type you’re after. Common varieties are usually in the garden store or greenhouse and easily found. Commercial varieties for florists might be only available through or to flower shops or the greenhouses that supply them, so getting some for yourself will be difficult. Nearly all flower types, no mater the genus, though, are available online or through seed catalogs. It might require more time to grow from seeds, but for the best flowers, it’s worth it.
Many of the most popular flowers for fragrance, such as Thalia, are of an older variety that is not as commercially popular in gardening stores because it’s not a “seller” in terms of big beautiful splashes or fast growth and easy care.
Fragrant Flowers List
There are literally hundreds of varieties of flowers for fragrance available in North America. If you’re growing indoors or in a greenhouse, the varieties are nearly endless since climate is no longer an issue. Here are some select choices for occasions or location:
Early Spring: Iris reticulata, Siberian squill, Grape hyacinth, Thalia, and many large-flowered hyacinths.
Shade Lovers: Lily of the valley, Sweet violets, Sweet woodruff (all “carpeting” flowers best grown in large bunches or groups), Hostas like honeybells and heaven scent, H. plantaginea.
Late Summer, Fall Scents: Phlox, Tuberose, Lycoris squamigera (“naked ladies”), Clematis terniflora (a vine) are favorites.
Perennials: Dianthus, Irises (“Royal Storm”, “Vanity”, etc).
Of course, don’t miss the varieties of fragrant rose, lilac, lavender, and peonies either. Many of these are available at most garden stores.
Tips for Increasing Fragrance in the Garden
Building fragrance in the garden is just as much a matter of aesthetics and planning as is the layout of color and foliage. Scents are to be admired and loved, so controlling how they are held inside the garden or moved through a home is as much of the planning as is topiary and color.
Enclosing your garden is a fine way to control scent. If you’re going to fence your garden (or have already done so), add slats or other things that close off an open-style fence (such as chain link) or build decorative walls that keep the breeze moving in the right direction. Living walls of scent, especially using vines and creepers, are another option.
Adding water to the garden also helps trap scent. The more humid the air, the better scents are held and carried, so birdbaths, ponds and fountains all help keep the scent in place.