Aromatic Plants for a Home Garden Design

Updated on May 6, 2019
Dolores Monet profile image

An avid gardener for over 40 years, Dolores has landscaped for private clients and maintained one client's small orchid collection.

Dried lavender offers up a fresh scent for a long time
Dried lavender offers up a fresh scent for a long time | Source

Creating a garden around your home is a wonderful lifelong project. There are so many aspects to a garden plan: trees, shrubs, flowers, etc. We tend to think of size and shape, color and texture; the overall picture we want to create, lighting and shade. Most of us buy whatever is on sale at the local garden center, or merely go for familiar favorites.

We often neglect the value of adding scented plants to our home landscape. In fact, many of today's popular rose hybrids have had the scent bred out of them in a genetic trade-off in favor of repeat blooms, disease resistance, length of bloom time, or bloom size. Yet, older roses and some modern hybrids offer excellent aromas, but may be difficult to locate, and not often available at the big box garden department.

Look for aromatic plants at locally owned garden centers or nurseries. They will offer a selection that grows well in your area.

Aromatic plants add a special touch to a garden, creating a sense of romance and a special kind of beauty. Scent can take us back to childhood, or call up a memory of a special place. Boxwood, for example, may offend some people but please others.

When I first selected plants for my own home, I chose according to what would look attractive, giving little thought to aroma. In the past several years, I've begun to add aromatic plants to my yard, near the front door, and around seating areas.

Below is a list of scented plants that are easy to find and easy to grow.

The Benefits of Aromatic Plants

Introducing aromatic plants into your garden adds a sensual and natural touch to your home environment.

David Austin Rose

This David Austin rose has a gentle citrus scent
This David Austin rose has a gentle citrus scent | Source

History of Aromatic Plants

People of the past took great pleasure in aromatic plants. They have been used to make essential oils used for medical, therapeutic, and even magical purposes.

The Ancient Romans loved scented plants and wore scented floral wreaths. Lavish banquet tables were decorated with scattered roses and rose petals.

Back before the invention of deodorant, aromatic plants were a mainstay for gardens. People gathered small sprigs of herbs and scented flowers to carry or wear to disguise unpleasant body smells. During the 18th century, the flowers used for English bouquets were chosen primarily with scent in mind.

A common belief held that the perfume of aromatic flowers and plants could ward off infectious disease. Women carried small bouquets called a nose-gay or tussie-mussie. Scented flowers became so popular; they were worn in the hair or tucked into clothing at the neckline and waist.

Today many flowers grown for the floral industry have so little scent; they have scented spikes to add to a floral arrangement.

Linden Tree

A 700 year old Linden tree in Slovenia
A 700 year old Linden tree in Slovenia | Source

Honoki Cedar

Aromatic Trees

  • Linden trees have a powerful yet sublime scent when they flower in summer. They hauntingly beautiful fragrance can be detected at some distance. However, Lindens are known to attract bees. They also can create a mess of sticky sap, so do not plant a Linden near parking areas.
  • Cedar trees offer a subtle and soothing scent and come in a wide variety of shapes and forms. The evergreen nature of a cedar also provides year-round visual interest to your yard. The Hinoki cedar has attractive, flat sprays of foliage and a delightful lemon-like aroma.
  • Fir trees, particularly balsam fir, provide the wonderful perfume we associate with Christmas. Balsams are best grown in cool northern areas and do not do well in hot climates. Firs grow in an attractive conical shape, and are the quintessential Christmas tree.
  • Junipers, whether in tree or shrub form smell fresh and clean. Juniper is a hardy evergreen that produces small blue-ish colored berries that smell like gin. Choose one that grows best in your area.
  • Magnolia. While there are many magnolias, the Southern magnolia and Sweet Bay magnolia produce large, waxy, creamy white blossoms that smell heavenly. Southern magnolia is a very large tree with a 40' spread. Sweet Bay is a smaller version and more frost tolerant than Southern magnolia. Both have large, thick, glossy evergreen leaves that are attractive in Christmas wreaths and winter decorations. The fruit of the tree is large and unusual and makes an interesting addition to dried flower arrangements.
  • Pine trees. The fresh, clean scent of pine trees can create a wonderful, natural feel to a home garden. White pines are highly aromatic tall growing evergreens with a wide growing habit.


Hollywood juniper is an attractive, hearty, large growing shrub with contorting branches.
Hollywood juniper is an attractive, hearty, large growing shrub with contorting branches. | Source

Magnolia: Sweet Bay


Aromatic Shrubs

  • Boxwood is an evergreen shrub with densely packed small oval leaves. Large and small varieties are available. Boxwood takes well to pruning and are popular topiary shrubs. The pungent smell of boxwood reminds some folks of cat urine, but I love it for its associations with old historic gardens.
  • Eucalyptus is a tree or shrub with pointed oval or round grayish-green leaves. Eucalyptus is often used in dried arrangements, or hung on doors for their clean, delightful scent. Most are not frost tolerant, but small plants can be moved indoors for the winter.
  • Lilac is a large growing shrub with heart-shaped leaves and large clusters of small flowers that bloom in spring. During bloom time, lilacs provide a heady perfume that can fill the neighborhood.
  • Roses: many roses have had their scent bred out of them. For aromatic roses, try old roses, David Austin hybrid roses, Rosemary Rose, Rosa Serafini, or rose primula.
  • Sagebrush of the Artemisia family is a tough shrub of the American West with gray-green leaves. The tough desert plant smells strongly of sage when it rains. Sagebrush also has many medicinal uses.



Aromatic Bulbs

Many spring and early summer bulbs provide a sweet perfume, but some are more aromatic than others.

  • Hyacinth is an early to mid-spring blooming, low growing plant with thick, vertical sword-like leaves. Small waxy flowers in white, yellow, pink, purple, or shades of blue and violet grown in a sturdy cluster offering a strong sweet scent. You don't have to bend over to enjoy the aroma of a hyacinth.
  • Lily of the Vally is a late spring blooming, low-growing plant with tiny bell-shaped flowers and a sweet, perfumey scent. Lily of the Valley grows best in partial shade and looks lovely under trees.
  • Oriental Lily: of all the lilies, the Oriental Lily has the strongest aroma, so strong, that it is wise to limit the number of them in a bouquet. The scent is intoxicating, the flower large, waxy petaled, and very showy.

Oriental Lily


Aromatic Perennial Flowering Plants

  • Allysum is a low growing plant with fine, delicate foliage crowned with clusters of tiny white flowers. Dead head for repeat blooming. Allysum easily reseeds. The flowers smell like honey. I've grown them in containers by the front door for a sweet welcome.
  • Hosta: many hostas send up aromatic blooms on tall stems. The attractive foliage with its large, heart-shaped leaves grows well in the shade. The flowers have a delicate scent that seems to smell best in the evening.
  • Moonflowers are huge white flowers that bloom at twilight. Easily grown from seeds, moonflowers used to be planted near outhouses. The bright luminous flowers showed the way in the dim light and added a light scent to an area that needed it.

Hosta in Bloom








Aromatic Perennial Herbs

So many types of herbs come in handy to use for cooking. I like to grow herbs near the back porch to make them easy to get at, and so enjoy the scent. Many herbs smell best in hot, dry weather.

  • Thyme is a wonderful perennial herb that can be included in lots of recipes. It can grow in a small shrub or creep along the ground. Plant low growing thyme between flagstones or along pathways. When you step on thyme, a delicious warm scent fills the air.
  • Lavender is another perennial herb that comes in many varieties. Famous for the cloud of soft blue flowers, lavender smells wonderful and makes an excellent addition to dried arrangements. Lay sprigs of dried lavender in the linen closet for a refreshing aroma that lasts for months. Lavender grows best in alkaline soil, and for years I tried to grow it with no success. In my area, acid soil predominates, but I decided to set a small piece of broken concrete just beside or behind it. Enough of the lime leaches out to provide the alkalinity that the plant needs.
  • Rosemary is an aromatic herb with a refreshing aroma. Rosemary plants are often trimmed to resemble little Christmas trees at the holiday season. Depending on your climate, rosemary may bloom with tiny blue flowers in spring.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I thought I found a plant that looked a lot like a yarrow plant. It has large, clumping, feathery leaves, and it is very aromatic, with a slightly medicinal smell. What plant is this?

    Yarrow is a plant genus with 85 species so your plant may very well be a yarrow. Many members of that species feature aromatic leaves. Begin your hunt by checking out yarrow species.

    Many online sites can help you identify your plant. The USDA's site for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others will help you identify your plant. Also, there are numerous plant identification books.

    Of course, there is also an app for that! PlantNet and Leafsnap are just two that allow you to photograph your plant with a smartphone to find an answer.

© 2011 Dolores Monet


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Amaryllis - thank you so much! Some of the scents, like the juniper, are quite subtle.

      Oooh, I think that I should toss some lavender into the bathwater - just didn't think. That would be lovely and might help heal up all the cuts and scratches I get from gardening in short sleeves with no gloves!

      I bet the past smelled wonderful, there was so much nature, so many people living in the countryside. Cities would have been stinky, no doubt, from the people! haha.

    • Amaryllis profile image

      Lesley Charalambides 

      7 years ago from New Hampshire

      What a lovely hub. I love aromatic plants, but did not realise some of those you mention had scent.

      I love lavender and have been told that roman soldiers bathed in lavender scented water, it helped their wounds to heal. We always imagine that the past must smell horrible, but since scented herbs were often spread on floors, is it possible that indoors at least, the past smelled better than the present?

      Useful and interesting!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)