14 of the Best Fragrant Flowers to Grow for a Sweet-Scented Garden
What could be more lovely than a flower's gentle scent guiding your sense of smell! Scented flowers and fragrant blooms are some of the greatest pleasures of gardening. They release a wonderful smell into the breeze that can be just so soothing to the senses.
We have two fragrant flowering plants in our patio: the jasmine I got from Wal-Mart a couple of years ago and the night-blooming jasmine that I received from my uncle that has been flowering for years now.
But what other sweet or fragrant flowering plants are your choices if you're not into these two? Here's a small list of sweet-scented flowering plants—along with plenty of photos to feast your eyes on—for you to consider adding to your garden.
14 Plants That Produce Lovely, Sweet-Smelling Flowers
- Night-Blooming Jasmine
- Spanish Jasmine
- Fragrant Columbine
- Mock Orange Flower
- Jasmine Tobacco
- Evening Primrose
- Chinese Wisteria
Binomial Name: Lonicera periclymenum
Common Names: Woodbine, common honeysuckle, European honeysuckle
Description: Honeysuckle can either be a vine or a shrub, grows as high as 10 meters, and is loved by hummingbirds. It is also used in alternative medicine, as it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. (No wonder I've seen it as one of the ingredients on my Breathe Easy tea.)
This scented yellow flower symbolizes love, where the fragrance is said to be a dream-inducer about love.
Care: Grow in full sun or a partially shaded area, ideally with a trellis or other support structure if you plan on growing it as a climbing vine.
Water frequently after planting and keep the soil evenly moist. Once it has established itself, however, you'll only have to water it during long summer droughts.
Binomial Name: Plumeria acuminata
Common Names: Plumeria, frangipani, lei flowers, calachuchi/kalachuchi
Description: Named after botanist Charles Plumier, these beautiful, five-petaled flowers are grown as an ornamental plant reaching up to 20 feet tall. They are a common tree in the Philippines, where they are known as calachuchi or kalachuchi.
Plumeria's scent comes on strong at night, inviting the sphinx moths—as these plants are nectarless beauties. The buds appear to be pinkish in color, but they turn white with a spray of yellow on the base once in complete bloom.
Exercise caution when handling the plant, however, as the sap can cause irritation if it comes in contact with the skin.
Care: Since it is a plant native to tropical locations, plumeria requires at least six hours of full sun a day and does not like to be in the cold. It should be planted in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. (If you live in a colder climate, you might want to try growing it in a container with perlite and sand.)
Water well during growing season, but allow it to dry out a bit before doing so again. Reduce watering in the fall and leave it to dry out in winter as it enters dormancy. Begin watering again in spring at the sight of new growth.
Fertilizing once every two or three weeks with a mix high in phosphorus during the growing season will help foster more blooms, while a mix with too much nitrogen will encourage more foliage instead.
3. Night-Blooming Jasmine
Binomial Name: Cestrum nocturnum
Common Names: Night-blooming jasmine, lady of the night, night queen, raatrani, dama de noche
Description: As the name suggests, the white flowers of night-blooming jasmine only open at dusk and remain that way throughout the night, giving off their sweet scent. As a new day begins at the crack of dawn, the tubular-shaped flowers close, only to open again for the evening.
Night-blooming jasmine is a sub-tropical plant that can grow up to 10–12 feet high and have a spread of up to 6 feet. Take note, however, that ingesting any part of this plant can be toxic to humans, pets, and livestock.
Care: Night-blooming jasmine grows best in loose, well-draining, sandy soil, ideally somewhere with a lot of space for its roots to spread out.
This plant needs consistently moist soil. So it's best to water it well whenever it begins to dry out, especially early on before it's well established, where it will need weekly watering.
Binomial Name: Cananga odorata
Common Names: Ylang-ylang, fragrant cananga, Macassar oil plant, kenanga, perfume tree
Description: I could close my eyes and imagine the sweet-smelling ylang-ylang flowers. They are highly regarded in the world of perfume-making and even as an essential oil.
The plant can reach up to a height of 40 feet tall and bears the drooping, yellowish scented flowers. The flower is also often made into leis for parties, for welcoming tourists or guests, and for religious offerings.
Care: Grow in either full sun or in a partially shaded area, preferably in a more humid setting (which will encourage more blooms). It is also is fairly susceptible to wind, so it's best to plant it near a wall or a hill for protection.
Ylang-ylang prefers well-draining, dry soil. If the top 2 inches of the soil are moist, then avoid watering for a little while longer—the plant will tell you when it needs more water by wilting.
5. Spanish Jasmine
Binomial Name: Jasminum grandiflorum
Common Names: Spanish jasmine, Catalan/Catalonian jasmine, royal jasmine
Description: Native to Persia and Southeast Asia and planted as an ornamental plant, this deciduous shrub grows about 4 meters tall. The scented flowers are also made into leis and are used in offerings and for welcoming visitors.
I got this jasmine in the above photo a few years ago from a Wal-Mart garden center. Every spring, it bursts with beautiful, sweet-smelling white blossoms.
Care: Grow in partial to full sun, with no fewer than six hours of sunlight a day. It prefers moist, well-draining soil that is neither dry nor waterlogged.
Water your jasmine frequently during the growing season of spring to late summer, but reduce watering in the fall and scale back to only once every few weeks in the winter.
Only apply a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
6. Fragrant Columbine
Binomial Name: Aquilegia fragrans
Common Names: Sweet-scented columbine, granny's bonnets, crowfoot
Description: This fragrant flower appears in spring and up through early summer and has the scent of honeysuckle. Native to the Western Himalayas, fragrant columbine grows between 12–18 inches.
The creamy, short-spurred flowers sit atop delicate stems and are loved by hummingbirds and bees. They come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, blue, and white.
Care: Columbine loves partially shaded locations, especially during the hottest parts of summer (since it can be sensitive to extreme heat). While most any soil will do, it tends to prefer sandier, loamier soils.
Water well until your plant is established and putting out a lot of new growth. New plants will need to be kept moist until they become established. Don't let it get too dry in summer or too soggy in the winter.
Binomial Name: Jasminum sambac
Common Names: Sampaguita, Philipine jasmine, Arabian jasmine, pikake
Description: Sampaguita is the national flower of both the Philippines and Indonesia and is used in making leis for occasions such as graduations and welcoming guests. A small, white, sweetly fragrant flower, it is often sold near church entrances for religious offerings.
As a shrub, sampaguita grows up to 2 meters, blooms all year round, and has been a symbol of purity and love. According to one Philippine legend, the name of the flower was derived from the word "sumpa kita," which translates to "my pledge to you" or a vow between two lovers. The word later turned into sampaguita.
Care: Grow in full sun or partial shade. Plant in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Tie the stems to supports as they grow.
Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season, careful not to overwater. Ensure it gets plenty of sun and is protected from frost.
The plant can acclimate to different conditions, but it does not like drastic changes. If you plan on changing its setting, do so gradually.
Binomial Name: Ipomoea alba
Common Names: Moonflower, belle de nuit, tropical white morning glory, moon vine
Description: Moonflower is a quick climber and can reach heights of up to 15 feet tall. As the name implies, the white or pink blooms of this plant open at night. It releases a sweet fragrance and attracts hummingbirds and nocturnal moths for pollination.
Be careful, however, as its seeds are poisonous if ingested.
Care: Grow in a rich, loamy, and slightly acidic soil that drains well and receives at least four to six hours of full sun a day.
Plant alongside a trellis or similar structure for vine support. Water well until the vines are established, then reduce watering to about once a week.
Apply around a teaspoon of general purpose fertilizer diluted with a gallon of water once a month.
9. Mock Orange Flower
Binomial Name: Philadelphus
Common Names: Mock orange, belle étoile
Description: These shrubs earned their name from their similar appearance and smell to orange flowers.
Grown as an ornamental garden plant, they can reach heights of up to 10 feet tall and produce white, four-petaled flowers in late spring up through early summer.
Care: Grow in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Be sure to plant in a deep hole with plenty of room for the roots to spread.
Though the shrub can be fairly drought tolerant, keep the soil consistently moist until the plant is established.
It also enjoys a little compost or all-purpose fertilizer now and then.
10. Jasmine Tobacco
Binomial Name: Nicotiana sylvestris
Common Names: Jasmine tobacco, winged tobacco, woodland tobacco
Description: Though it is considered to be the largest flowering tobacco—reaching heights of up to 5 feet tall—jasmine tobacco is mostly only grown for its fragrance.
The tubular flowers come in colors of pink, purple, yellow, red, and white and are loved by hummingbirds, who enjoy their nectar.
Care: Grow in moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter and gets full sun or partial shade.
These plants love warm weather and warm soil but prefer their soil to stay moist. Also, keep them away from cold temperatures, as they are fairly susceptible to frost.
Fertilize once a month throughout the growing season.
Binomial Name: Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Common Names: English bluebell, common bluebell, wild hyacinth, wood bell, fairy blower, bell bottle
Description: Native to the Atlantic areas, the bluebell is a perennial. It has sweet-scented flowers carried by long stalks that measure about 20 inches. These bluish to lavender beauties are a frequent garden favorite and also come in white and pink colors.
This plant is also particularly easy to grow, as it is resistant to pests, diseases, deer, and rodents.
Care: Grow in moist, well-drained soil in partial to full shade.
They do not like to dry out, so keep them well watered for the first few seasons until they are established.
12. Evening Primrose
Binomial Name: Oenothera biennis
Common Names: Evening primrose, evening star, sun drop, hog weed, sun cups
Description: Just like moonflowers, the evening primrose only blooms during the night. The plant grows up to 5 feet tall, with flowers blooming in colors of white, pink, and yellow.
Primrose has also traditionally been used in medicines for everything from gastrointestinal problems and sore throats to eczema and osteoporosis.
Care: Grow in moist, well-draining soil in partial shade to full sun. But keep the plant in a setting with temperatures well below 80°F.
Primrose will die quickly in soil that is too dry for too long, but they are also susceptible to root rot. So keep them moist, but be wary of waterlogging.
Fertilize about once a month, but stop all fertilization once they begin to bloom.
13. Chinese Wisteria
Binomial Name: Wisteria sinensis
Common Names: Chinese wisteria, Chinese kidney bean
Description: Chinese wisteria is a woody vine that blooms every spring in various colors, such as purple, white, and pink.
Wisterias are considered invasive climbers, as they can go after anything they can climb on in a counter-clockwise motion, reaching heights of up to 70 feet tall. So you might want to consider growing it in an open area that can be easily trimmed or mowed.
Care: Grow in moist, well-draining soil in full sun, ideally with a layer of compost. Plant near a trellis or pagoda for support.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch every spring to control weeds and retain moisture.
Wisteria doesn't require much water, but it does demand vigilant pruning to prevent it from taking over its surroundings.
Binomial Name: Lavandula
Description: Lavender is one of my absolute favorites, due in part to purple being one of my favorite colors. It's also so easy to pick some blooms and uplift your mood with its calming scent.
I have the Lavandula dentata and love the smell of its flowers. When I first saw a hummingbird paying a visit to my potted lavender—with its flapping wings almost close to the pavement—I decided to put the pot close to the glass sliding door for a much closer view, in case one decided to go for the scented blooms again.
Care: Grow in full sun in chalky, sandy soil that drains well. Supplement with organic matter like compost. If possible, protect the plant from strong winds.
Water deeply but infrequently whenever the soil begins to feel dry. Beware of overwatering, however, as the plant would prefer less water as opposed to too much.
Which fragrant flower is your favorite?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
What is the most fragrant flower?
I find it hard to answer that question. Some flowers are more fragrant than the others, but to pick just one flower as the "most" fragrant of all is difficult. But, if I had to pick, I would choose ylang-ylang, night blooming jasmine, and lavender.Helpful 25