Best Flowers For Fragrance

Infuse your yard with scent-sational blossoms that look as good as they smell.

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Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

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Photo By: photographer for Monrovia

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Oriental Lily

Oriental lily unfurls large blooms that exude a rich perfume. 'Sorbonne’ (shown) unfurls deep pink petals with a white edge. Oriental lily grows from a bulb that can be planted in fall or spring. Top-heavy stems grow to 3 feet and benefit from staking. Use care not to pierce the bulb when you insert stakes. Adding them at planting time helps avoid bulb damage. Flowers appear in midsummer and can scent an entire yard on a sultry summer evening. Look for varieties with blooms in pink, red and white. Hardy in Zones 3-9.

Sweet Pea

Grow an old-fashioned favorite by planting a crop of sweet peas. This pretty bloomer was a favorite in the Victorian era, when nosegays of sweet peas were cherished for their fragrance. 'Knee High Mix' sweet pea (shown) features a blend of perfumed types that open flowers in shades of pink, lavender, rose, purple, burgundy and white. Sweet peas grow best in cool seasons. Plants peter out when summer heat and humidity arrive. 'Knee High Mix' grows shorter vines, reaching 2 to 3 feet tall. Annual.

Korean Spice Viburnum

Korean spice viburnum is beloved for its wonderful fragrance that can perfume an entire yard in mid-spring. Flower clusters start with pink buds that open to reveal white blossoms. Korean spice viburnum also has good fall color with red leaves and is deer resistant. Spice Baby viburnum (shown) is a tidy size that suits even the smallest yard, growing 42 to 60 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

Dutch Hyacinth

Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse. Its stocky blooms open in mid-spring, around the time that daffodils are hitting their stride. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.


It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white, and you can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include wine-red 'Congo' (Zones 4-7), pink 'Maiden’s Blush' (Zones 2-7), light blue 'President Grevy' (Zones 3-7) and white 'Beauty of Moscow' (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.


Peonies are old-fashioned favorites in the garden. Large, petal-filled blossoms grace the garden with a rich color palette that includes white, pink, red, salmon and deep purple. Tuck potted peony plants into the garden in fall or spring. Bareroot peonies do best when planted in fall. Peonies are long-lived plants that typically survive for generations and make fantastic cut flowers. Zones 2-8.


For springtime romance, few plants compare to wisteria. This woody vine happily climbs and clambers over a trellis or pergola, delivering a spring show of dangling flower clusters packed with fragrance. Different types of wisteria are available with flowers in shades of purple, pink, blue and white. Choose American wisteria for plants that aren’t invasive, especially in the warmest zones. Hardy in Zones 4-9, depending on type.


Few plants symbolize fragrance like roses. This group of plants features shrubs, climbers, miniatures—and all sorts of other wonderful types. Flower color runs the gamut, including white, deep burgundy (almost black), lemon yellow and a host of other hues. Which roses are most fragrant? A few that have stood the test of time include 'Autumn Damask' (Zones 5-9), 'Madame Isaac Pereire' (Zones 6-9), 'Double Delight' (Zones 3-9), 'Mister Lincoln' (Zones 5-9) and 'Roseraie de l’Hay’ (Zones 3-9).


The classic corsage flower, gardenia delivers on fragrance—many times over. Pure white blooms contrast beautifully with waxy, deep green leaves. Plants grow 2 to 8 feet tall and wide, depending on type. The secret to a happy gardenia in the landscape is thick mulch, no soil disturbance (roots like to be left alone) and monthly feeding with an acid fertilizer, blood meal or fish emulsion. Hardy in Zones 7 to 10.


A true bathing beauty, Egyptian lotus is a water plant with a haunting fragrance. It grows in water up to 24 inches deep. Stately blooms unfurl atop stems that stand above the water surface. Pink petals open, slowly aging to a deep rose hue. Distinct round leaves also stand above the water. The leaf surface has a silvery metallic sheen, and water beads upon it. Hardy in Zones 4-10.

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