These 10 Best-Smelling Flowers For Your Garden

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A garden isn’t just about looks; every sense should be engaged to get the most from your outdoor space. A sweet scent draws you in and makes you want to linger. It often triggers happy memories, too: The peonies in your grandmother’s garden. The first bouquet of roses you ever received. The smell of lilacs on a warm, spring day.

Place these plants where you’ll most enjoy them, such as near sitting area or entryway or in window boxes by your front door. Before planting, make sure shrubs and perennials, which come back every year, are suited to your USDA Hardiness zone (check yours here). Finally, read the plant tag or description so you give the plant the proper amount of sunlight.

Here are a few of the best-smelling flowers we’ve ever encountered:

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1. Peony

Peonies have lush, romantic-looking flowers with a strong perfume. These perennials come in shades ranging from pure white to pale pink to deep burgundy. They make lovely cut flowers, too. Don’t worry about the ants that visit; they’re sipping the nectar and don’t hurt a thing! Just brush them off before bringing blooms indoors.

2. Lilac

These old-fashioned favorites come in pink, purple and white. Give lilac shrubs full sun and plenty of air circulation to avoid disease, and they can live for decades. New types re-bloom later in the season.

3. Sweet Alyssum

If you’re on a mission to save the bees—or simply spot more hummingbirds and butterflies in your yard, plant this ground-hugging annual. Sweet alyssum has honey-scented flowers, which are delightful cascading from hanging baskets, window boxes, or over the edges of planting beds.

4. Dianthus

This low-growing perennial has fringed petals, so it’s also called “pinks” because its edges appear to have been cut with pinking shears. Dianthus has a spicy vanilla scent and works well edging a walkway or in rock gardens.

5. Stock

Stock is an old-fashioned annual in dreamy pastel colors that thrives in cool temperatures, so plant it in early spring. It’s lovely in bouquets.

6. Sweet Pea

Sweet peas have pretty little blooms and a lovely honey-orange scent. They’re perfect in informal or cottage gardens, climbing up a trellis or arch; these annual vines can stretch up to 8 feet. One warning, though: Read the label or description before buying them, because not all varieties are scented.

7. Gardenia

Gardenias have glossy green leaves and creamy white flowers, which almost look like they’re porcelain. They’re long-time favorite shrubs in southern gardens. Most types bloom from late spring to early summer.

8. Lavender

This beautiful perennial has tiny spikes of lightly scented purple flowers. For the best effect, plant lavender in masses so its delicate scent can be enjoyed drifting on the breeze.

9. Lily Of The Valley

The tiny, bell-shaped flowers of lily of the valley nod on long stems above dark green foliage. They’re low-growing, so they make a good ground cover in partly shaded areas. But be careful where you plant these perennials, because they spread rapidly and can take over an area quickly.

10. Heliotrope

Heliotrope is an heirloom plant that deserves a place in your garden for its vanilla-cherry scent (it’s sometimes called the cherry pie plant). Its flower heads follow the sun as it moves across the sky, thus the name from the Greek “helios” for sun. Plant in swaths to get the most from this annual.

purewow author
Arricca Elin SanSone

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...
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