Make an eye-catching garden more enjoyable by including fragrant plants. Incorporating aromatic flowers into the landscape adds an unforgettable dimension. Fragrant plants tend to bring up pleasant memories, and scented flowers also attract wildlife, such as bees and butterflies.
Fragrance is produced by plants when their essential oils evaporate and the molecules enter the air. The most fragrant flowers are white and pastel, while bright flowers, like red and orange, have little to no scent.
Good fragrant flower additions to your garden include lilac, rose, dianthus, gardenia, jasmine, citrus, honeysuckle, hosta, alyssum, stock, bee balm, nicotiana, moonflower, citrus, ginger lily, and michellia.
Create you own fragrant garden with these tips:
1. Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They detract from the pleasant odors and can kill or harm beneficial creatures like birds and butterflies.
2. Use drip irrigation. Overhead watering interferes with the release of nectar in aromatic plants, which will cause them not to smell. Drip keeps the water at the root zone and off the plants.
3. Place aromatic plants in high traffic areas. You want the plants close enough so you can smell them. Good locations include entryways, passageways, and enclosed areas where the odors can linger, such as patios, courtyards, and atriums. Spots near windows that you open are also good.
4. Locate low-growing fragrant plants near nose level. Place short aromatic plants where they can easily be appreciated, rather than on the ground. Good locations include elevated containers located on tabletops and hanging baskets.
5. Consider time of day. Some plants only smell at certain times of the day. For instance, brugmansia releases its scent at night-time but has no odor in the day, while other plants only smell during the day. Weather can also make a difference. Hot days tend to stir up the volatile oils in plants more than cool days, which means you’ll have a more fragrant garden when the weather is warm.
6. Balance and layer. Avoid putting too many different types of fragrant plants into your landscape. The results of doing this can be overpowering and even unpleasant. Some plants, like night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), are so strong that you only need one in your yard. Other flowers, like alyssum, require that you plant several in order to notice the scent.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of seven books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening, Fairy Gardening, The Strawberry Story Series, and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of HealthyHouseplants.com.