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7 Kinds of Fragrant Flowers for a Sweet-Smelling Garden

I love flowers, especially when their fragrance is vibrant enough to match their looks! Here are seven flowers that I love for their smell.

The top 7 delicious, sweet-smelling flowers for your garden

The top 7 delicious, sweet-smelling flowers for your garden

Sweet-Smelling Flowers for Your Garden

Some flowers are little more than eye candy. They may have vibrant blooms, but that's it. Put your nose to the petals, and there's nothing pleasant to experience. The seven flowers on this list are different, with strong, distinctive aromas. Not one has a scent that is merely fresh and leafy.

These are truly fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers—a treat for the senses, whether your eyes are on them or not.

Top 7 Flowers That Smell Good

  1. Magnolia
  2. Lilac
  3. Freesia
  4. Violet
  5. Sweet Pea
  6. Rose
  7. Gardenia
White magnolia blossom and buds

White magnolia blossom and buds

1. Magnolia

Magnolia blossoms are usually pure white, though some are deep pink. The individual flowers can be big enough to fill the palms of two outstretched hands.

Where I live, the magnolia trees bloom just as spring first starts to tease, just as the first shoots of green begin to reappear in the world. On warm, damp days, the scent of magnolias carries on the breeze. But this is so only for a too-brief season.

Sadly, there's no way to enjoy the scent of magnolias for an extended period, short of having a tree of your own. Pluck a blossom off a branch, and the thick, juicy petals crush easily and turn brown.

White-edged purple lilac

White-edged purple lilac

2. Lilac

It's a good thing the scent of lilacs is strong because it is often hard to get too close to a cluster of blossoms: bees usually swoop in first.

White lilacs smell the sweetest, but lilacs also come in pink and many, many shades of purple and lavender. Lilac plants can be tiny shrubs or small-sized trees. Branches covered in dense blossoms are sometimes sold as cut flowers in late spring, but the four-pointed flowers wilt quickly.

Pale purple lilac

Pale purple lilac

3. Freesia

Freesias are showy and fragrant and come is almost every color imaginable.

Speckled violet

Speckled violet

4. Violet

Violets are tricky. They're tiny and hide amid the grass, moss, and mud in the shadiest spots in a garden. And, unfortunately, not all varieties are equally worth bending down to smell. But there's one kind of tiny pink violet that definitely is worth seeking out. These make the ordinary purple violets smell like nothing at all.

Cut violets aren't showy, and I've never seen them sold, but they will last for a little while in a tiny vase of water.

Pink sweet pea

Pink sweet pea

5. Sweet Pea

Sweet peas are the absolute sweetest-smelling flowers. I have always loved sweet peas. They come in deep red, white, pink, magenta, purple, and many speckled combinations of those colors. Each variety and each color has a slightly different scent, which means they're never boring.

The sprawling tangle of dusty green that is a sweet pea plant might not be much to look at until the flowers bloom, but the wait is worth it.

I recently saw a teensy-tiny handful selling for $20 in New York City, and all I can say is, oh, how I envy those who live where sweet peas grow wild! Sweet peas won't last very long as cut flowers, but while they do, they're delicately beautiful.

Yellow rose

Yellow rose

6. Rose

Roses are known for their sweet smell, yet so many of the giant, perfectly formed florists' roses have only the faintest hint of fragrance.

To truly stop and smell the roses, seek out a garden with unusual and old-fashioned varieties. Look for imperfect clumps of blooms. Look for roses with only a few layers of delicate petals. Look for thorns.

Some of my favorite roses have come in pale shades of purple and yellow.

7. Gardenia

Classic white gardenias contrast sharply against the plant's shiny, deep green leaves. The scent is sweet, sweet, sweet, and surprisingly strong.

Growing up, a neighbor grew gardenias in a pot on her porch, and one evening, she plucked off one of the half-dollar-sized blooms and insisted I take it home.

Walking down the street with that scented object in my hands seared the scent of gardenias into my memory forever—in a good way.

© 2010 E. A. Wright


In the on November 11, 2018:

Champaca, in the Philippines. Such a sweet smelling flower.

Light on October 09, 2017:

Nice but need a little more details

Jordan on March 16, 2017:

hi this website is kind of good for something you are having trouble on

nnine on October 07, 2015:

Lilies smell nice too

Precious Cline on September 12, 2015:

This will help me with my science homework i love science!!!!!!

J C on November 24, 2013:

Purple flowers in LA Calif. were so strong smelling ( in a good way ) you couldn't get close to them.

Ilona from Ohio on November 15, 2013:

Love flowers with fragrance- I bet it was hard to choose only seven!

Eugene Brennan from Ireland on July 22, 2013:

Voted up and interesting. I can't remember what sweet pea smells like and I have never smelled freesia or violets, so I must grow them sometime! Anyway if I can add to your list, here are some of my favorites:

Blue bells (actually I think these smell a bit like lilac)

Antirrhinum (snapdragon)

Sweet william, carnations and other members of the Dianthus family.


vibesites from United States on June 13, 2013:

Beautiful flowers whose sweet smells are wafting throughout my dream garden... it's paradise for me.

Thanks for putting up a lovely hub. Up and beautiful.

Daksh on April 06, 2013:

helped me thanx

kyle on January 02, 2013:


oonagh on May 23, 2012:

what is a sweet smelling plant that will survice in apot rather than planting out in a garden?

emilly on April 17, 2012:

i used it for school yay work done

Yasmine on April 10, 2012:

I love flowers, specialy Gardinias ... I will write a poem about them all.

louromano on March 25, 2012:

Great hub. Some solid information! ;)

hidy gans on March 12, 2012:

i luv this

amilayon .j. masey on December 01, 2011:

i luv all the flowers so beautiful!!!

seema on November 30, 2011:

I love flowers soothe the mind ..the colors and smell touch the heart...The white tiny jasmine also sweet smelling flower.

marielle on September 14, 2011:

i love flowers

Roselinda889 on July 26, 2011:

Aren't frangipanis also fragrant?

WildIris on May 13, 2010:

If I could vote for all the flowers on your list, I would. I grow all the fragrant flowers you list above but the gardenia. Star Magnolia and violets flowers are two of my favorite flowers because they brighten a dull mid-winter day. Maybe I should try to grow a gardenia. Thanks.

Elayne from Rocky Mountains on May 01, 2010:

This is a beautiful hub about some of my very favorite flowers. I just saw some beautiful white gardenias today that smelled heavenly. I need to get some to plant in my yard soon. Thanks and Aloha.