In our gardens, we plant our favourites having come to terms with any plants that are already established when you move into the property. The last is sometimes an exercise that requires cutting an ill scented shrub or tree, but usually we feel free to plant scented plants whether they are annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees in such a way as to extract maximum enjoyment from their unique gifts of perfume.

Usually we look to flowers to provide this pleasure, sometimes to foliage, less frequently to fruit or bark and rarely to their roots.

What we can cultivate in our climatic conditions affects our range and choices but as important is our own personal olfactory sense. The following listing offers some suggestions.

Acacia Mimosa, Wattle – with hundreds of species in Australia, there is a wide range of scents but the A. dealbata is best known as the Mimosa in commerce in Europe

Acorus calamus, Calamus Sweet Sedge scented in all its parts but roots most valued.

Aponogeton distachym Water Hawthorn has a strong scent – lance shaped leaves white flower unusual shape with black anthers. Scent disappears soon after picking.

Aloysia citriodorasyn Lippia citriodora Lemon Verbena leaves scented

Alyssum maritimum Sweet Alice sweet scent like hawthorn

Azaleas Double Ghent and Mollis azaleas are scented, also some Knaphill and Exbury hybrids

A. atlanticum from North America – smaller bush with pinkish white flowers very fragrant

A. occidentalis well scented species, white with yellow blotch flowers.

A.pontica syn Rhododendron luteum sickly sweet scent but care as honey is toxic.

A. rosea fragrant rosy pink flowers

A. viscosa white with strong scent.

Buddleia variabilis syn B. davidii Butterfly Bush is a sweet medium scented shrub

B. globosa pleasantly scented

Calamintha varieties possess scent hinting of thyme and sage

C. grandiflora is taller with rose red flowers

Calycanthus floridus Carolina Allspice is aromatic with leaves having fruity scent and apple scented flowers. The bark is cinnamon like.

Cananga odorata var. genuine Ylang Ylang is the source of the best essential oil

C. odoratum var macrophylla is scented but inferior

Also known as ylang ylang are the vines Artabotrys odoratissimus, and Artabotrys hexapetalus

Ceoanothus dentatus

C. burkwoodiinot as tall as C. dentatus

Gloire de Versailles grows to 2m with powder blue flowers through summer and autumn.

Choisy aternata Mexican Orange – scented similar to Orange blossom or sweet Philadelphus.

Citrus spp Orange blossom, (Neroli) is the finest but Lemon blossom is scented too

Clematis spp

C. montana wilson is highly perfumed

C. flammula has best fragrance

Clerodendron trichotomum

C. fargesi


C. ainifolia Sweet Pepper Bush with white scented flowers

C. ainfiloir rosea– pink flowers.

Corylopsis spicata pale yellow flowers scent of cowslip

C. wilmottiae is more fragrant

Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn blossom, sweetly scented

Cyclamen europeum has a strong scent

Daphne all are popular scented plants

D. odora, D. burkwoodii

D. blagayana is a prostrate fragrant plant

Dianthus spp Carnations

D. fragrans, D. onoeanus, D. petreus all scented

D. caesius– Cheddar pink from England has best perfume old cloves

Eucalyptus citriodora Lemon Scented Gum from Australia as are most in this genus. The leaves are the source of its unique and beautiful scent, best known in this vast genus of over 700 species. Its influence is appreciated most after a shower of rain releases the scent.

Eucharis grandiflora Amazon Lily scent is good

Exacum affine a greenhouse annual only a few inches high with violet flowers somewhat like Lily of the Valley.

Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet- strewing herb – richly perfumed of English wild flowers – similar to hawthorn but stronger

Gladioli tristis has a very sweet scent

Gladstoniana is a huge scented waterlily

Hamamelis mossis from China has wonderful scent on warm day.

Hedichyum alba White Ginger

Heliotropus arborea Heliotrope, Cherry Pie strong reminiscent of hawthorn. Mauve hybrids are vanilla scented and fascinating in the garden. Attractive little plants to 60cm.

H. virginiana supplies medicinal from bark

Hesperis matronalis Sweet Rocket has a perfume like cloves

Humea elegans Incense Plant biennial- can cause skin irritation but has fragrant foliage.

Hymenanthera dentata

H. flavum Tree Violet



H. speciosa Sacred Lily of the Incas

Humea elegans Incense Plant biennial- can cause skin irritation but has fragrant foliage.

Iris spp

I.aphylla, I.arenaria, I.florentina, I. germanica, I.graminea, I. histrioides, I. reticulata, I.stylos a are all scented species are all sweetly scented

I.florentina flower is violet scented and the root dried in use of perfume

I. pallidaFleur de Lis or Flower de Luce of Dalmatia has very sweet perfume like orange flowers.

Jasminum spp

J. angular has larger leaves than the J.officinale

J. officinale– important ingredient in the perfume industry

J. polyanthemum strongly scented flowers

J. sambac specially sweet scented is the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Lavandula spp Lavenders all are enjoyed for their refreshing, gentle scent enjoyed for their scented delightful leaves and balsamic flower scent used in perfume industry

Lilium spp

L. auratum golden rayed Lily of Japan

L. candidum Madonna lily scent is delicious

L. giganteum scented white flowers on a stem. Bulb dies after flowering.

L. hansonii yellow orange coloured flowers

L. longiflorum Easter Lily rich perfume

L. pyrenaicum pleasant perfume at distance, can be objectionable close up.

L. regale Chinese lily with heady scent

L. speciosum with album-novum the best white form. Scent not as strong as L. regale

Lomandra effusa – Scented Mat Rush

Lonicera spp– Honeysuckles Most species are delightfully scented with only one known to be without perfume.

L. japonica Japanese Honeysuckle is one of the most popular garden and also L fragrantissima and L. periclymenum

Mathiola bicornis Night Scented Stock – waves of delicious heady fragrance in evenings. – sow the Virginia stock and the Night stock together, for a display in the day and perfume at night!

Melaleuca argentea, M/.Squarrosa Silvery Paper Bark

Mentha spp – Mints have scented leaves and flowers

M. requiernii mat forming for scented paths, very aromatic when disturbed.

Michelia champaca Champac

M. figo– Port Wine Magnolia has small flowers that release in warm condition, the most delicious, satisfying sweet scent that will never be forgotten and is often likened to the liqueur or sometimes called the Banana Bush.

Myrtus communis Myrtle possesses fragrant leaves and flowers

Narcissus spp Daffodils, Jonquils There is a reputed double daffodil introduced by John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I, with an incomparable perfume as have many wild ones. Modern bred daffodils have much less perfume

N, campoernelli odourus plenus double are the flowers with great perfume

N. obvallaris the Tenby Daffodils – stolen from the wild

N. poeticus Poets Narcissus, Pheasant’s Eye has white flower with yellow trumpet and red crisped margins.

Nepeta mussini Catmint or Catnep. This is popular as a bedding plant amongst roses. Most attractive to cats. They roll in it and go into cat ecstasies.

Nicotiana Scented Tobacco

N. alata – cream fragrant flowers

N. sylvestris white fragrant flowers

Nymphaea capensis Blue water Lily

N. flavo-virens Mexican water lily – white flowers

N. odorata, N.elegans, N. stellata, N. tuberosa N. pygmaea are perfumed

N. stellata pale blue scented flowers

Oenothera odorense– Evening Primrose – biennial

O. trichocalyx white flower almost as pleasantly scented as the former

Osmanthus delavayii white flower with a penetrating perfume

O. fragrans– exquisite perfume, like ripe apricots

Pelargonium spp often called Scented Geraniums many of these have highly scented leaves due to oil content and are popular in pot pourri and scent making. There are many varieties.

Petasites fragrans Winter Heliotrope has hawthorn like perfume – exceedingly strong

Philadelphus spp Mock Orange – most in this genus are delightfully scented.

Pittosporpum revolutum, P. rhombifolium, P. undulatum all possess attractive fragrances

P. tenuifolium this one is night scented

Plumeria acutifolia Frangipani from Mexico.

P. alba and P. rubra are highly perfumed tropical flowers

Pogostemon patchouli Patchouli produces very potent oil for the perfume industry

Polianthestuberose Tuber-rose – said to be the strongest of floral perfumes – its potent sweet perfume is extracted by a more complex process than others.

Primula kewensis has yellow flowers and fragrant as are other species

Pyruscoronara and P. augustifolia Crabapples both with scented flowers

Rhododendronspp a few of the species in cultivation are scented

R. azaleoidessimilar to R.fragrans and R. odoratum – highly scented

R. desquamatum, R. rubiguisum and R. saluense are aromatic.

R. bullatumand R. cillatum are fragrant as R. veris

Ribes aureum, Golden Currant

R, fasciculatum from Japan has cream fragrant tubular flowers, terminal

R. gayanum White flower tubular, fragrant from Chile

R. odoratum has yellow scented flower in terminal racemes

R. speciosum flowers said to be clove perfumed

Rosa spp. Some of the finest perfumed roses include many old roses renowned for outstanding perfume:

R. alba, R. albasemi-plena, R. alba maxima

R. damascena– Celsiana, Gloire de Guilau, Ispahan, Kazanlik Leda pink form, Madame Hardy, Marie Louise, Omar Khayayam,

R. gallica Provins Rose, – ancient Apothecary’s Rose – Alain Blanchard Belle Iris, Cardinal de Richelieu, Gloire de FranceJenny Duval Duchess de Montebello

R. mundi– Tuscany Rose

R. indica Chinese rose – Common Bush China, Cecile Brunner, Bloomfield Abundance,

R. moschate Musk Rose – Buff Beauty, Felicia, Magenta, Pax, Penelope, Pink Prosperity, Vanity. Bourbon rose -Zephyrine Drouhin, Souvenir de la Malmaison, Boule de Beige, la Reine Victoria, Louise Odier, Madame Isaac Pereire, Madame Pierr Oger.

R. rubiginosa Sweet Briar – stems and leaves Marechal Neil yellow, highly perfumed

R. turkestanica– single apricot flowers, Jenny Wren

Modern hybrids– Double Delight – Charles de Gaulle, Emanuel, Olympia, Mister Lincoln, Perfume Perfection

Rosmarinus officinale Rosemary few can refrain from crushing the tips of this bush when passing by -balsamic scent, clean and therapeutic for brain and mental faculties

Salvia spp Sage

S. rutilans has a pineapple scent

S. sclarea Clary Sage strongly scented but not as strong as common sage, S. officinalis

Sambucus nigra Elder tree – flowers have pleasant perfume but not so the leaves

Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton – used once as cooking herb but suited to strewing and keeping away moths in clothes

Spartium spp Spanish Broom sweetly scented as many species and hybrids

Stephanotis Madagascar Jasmine sweet strong exotic perfume

Thyme spp

T. herbaborona smells of caraway seeds

T. nitidus has attractive perfume

T. serpyllus is the wild, culinary herb use along pathways as is

T. citrinuslemon scented

Trachelospermum jasminoides produces white sticky jasmine like scented flowers – climber

Tulipa Mendel tulip Orange wonder is strongly scented.

T. gesnerica and T. persica are good fragrance

T. sylvestis smells like violets.

Victoria regia the giant water lily is said to be sweetly scented

Viburnum spp

V. carlesii– sweetest scent in the plant world according to Fletcher

V. grandiflorum has larger pink flowers. Fruits are Edible

V. bodnantens e is pink flowered hybrid of V. fragrans.

V. burkwoodii is finer some say

V, fragrans– sweet scented blossoms and fruits are eaten

Viola spp Violets

V. palustris Marsh Violet

V. ruviniana Dog Violet with not smell

V. odorata true perfumed flower

Wisterias spp are sweetly scented for arbors and walkways

W. floribunda are very fragrant

W. sinensis has highly perfumed flowers


Conifers, Cypress, Pines and many trees with aromatic leaves or gums release powerful and should not be neglected for inclusion in gardens for their vital healing influence.


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