Plants aren’t just decorative objects. They are noted for their bold, striking, and lively colors – a true feast for the eyes, but many blooms go further to elate and seduce with fragrance.
Gardenias, true jasmines, frangipani, cinnamon tree, night-blooming jasmine, lavender, moonflower, and citruses especially grab you with aromas you can identify with your eyes closed. Nature’s perfumes are the best and no wonder they have been a pure inspiration to perfume designers. Fragrant flowers add a special note to any plant design with their intoxicating scent that spreads through the entire house. They will give you a fragrant welcome each time you pass by them if displayed in a front hallway or near a door. Here is a list of 50 best smelling flowers for your indoor or outdoor space.
Did you know… Why do flowers have aromas?
Flowers have volatile chemicals in them that evaporate under the right conditions and are triggered by heat, humidity, sunlight, or the lack of it. These aromas are integral to the survival of their plant as scent deters critters and flowers use them to send signals that attract pollinators.
- 50 Best Smelling Flowers
- Jasminum sambac – Arabian Jasmine
- Stephanotis floribunda – Madagascar Jasmine
- Iris reticulata – Netted Iris
- Hyacinth orientalis
- Narcissi – Daffodils
- Miniature roses
- Exacum affine -Persian Violet
- Calamondin – Citrus mitis
- Cyclamen persicum
- Polianthes tuberosa
- Lonicera periclymenum – Honeysuckle
- Cananga odorata – Ylang-Ylang
- Viburnum carlesii “Korean Spice”
- Oncidopsis Nelly Isler
- Nicotiana alata – Tobacco Flower, Jasmine Tobacco
- Brassia Orchid
- Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley
- Scented Hoyas – Wax Plants
- Plumeria plants
- Clematis terniflora
- Philadelphus coronarius – Mock Orange
- Brugmansia x candida- Angel’s Trumpet
- Syringa vulgaris – Lilac
- Primula vulgaris – Primrose
- Osmanthus fragrans – Fragrant Tree Olive
- Hedychium coronarium – White Butterfly Ginger Lily
- Murraya paniculata – Orange Jasmine
- Epiphyllum oxypetalum – Queen of the Night
- Gardenia jasminoides – Cape Jasmine
- Cestrum nocturnum – Night-Blooming Jasmine
- Cascabela thevetia – Yellow Oleander
- Telosma cordata – Pakalana
- Brunfelsia pauciflora – Yesterday Today and Tomorrow
- Lathyrus odoratus – Sweet Peas
- Asiatic lilies – Oriental Lily
- Heliotropium arborescens – Cherry Pie
- Southern magnolia
- English roses
- Maxillaria Tenuifolia – Coconut Orchid
- Dianthus – Sweet William
- Matthiola incana – The Beauty of Nice
- Lobularia maritima syn. alyssum maritimum – Sweet Alyssum
- Cosmos atrosanguineus – Chocolate Cosmos
- Wrightia religiosa – Water Jasmine
- Rangoon creeper- Combretum indicum
- Dipladenia Red Delight
- What foliage plants are fragrant?
50 Best Smelling Flowers
Jasminum sambac – Arabian Jasmine
The winner of the Award of Garden Merit, Arabian Jasmine is an evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and intensely fragrant flowers that are initially white in early summer, but turn pale pink as they mature. No wonder why it is commonly used for making perfumes. They will spellbind the entire garden with their alluring fragrance.
Cultivation: Provide partial and some full sun, humusy and well-drained soil of neutral pH and prune when needed.
Stephanotis floribunda – Madagascar Jasmine
This Jasmine is prized for its beauty and sweet fragrance. It is a tropical plant with its deep green, glossy leaves, and snowy white flowers. It is best displayed in a larger pot, with its leaves and flowers trained to grow in a circle or on a trellis. Stephanotis species in general are a classic plant choice when designing for scent.
Cultivation: Rich soil, fertile and evenly moist soil that retains moisture well. Never allow the plant to sit in water.
Iris reticulata – Netted Iris
Netted or Dwarf Iris is an early, bulbous species of spring that grows to be only 10 cm tall. The leaves look like grass, while the flowers are violet-blue with yellow sepals. It blooms at the end of winter to early spring. Grow it as a container or bedding plant, under trees or plant it in a shared container arrangement for a fuller look.
Cultivation: It is best to grow it in alkaline, medium moist soil in full sun to part shade. Deer and drought tolerant.
Hyacinth is one of the most popular fragrant cut flowers in a bouquet or garden flowers that come in a variety of shades like pink, peach, purple and pink in early spring. Butterflies are their usual guests. Hyacinth adds both intense perfume and rich colors during winter.
Cultivation: Provide full sun to partial shade, water occasionally and your hyacinth flowers will reward you with their colorful tiny blooms.
Narcissi – Daffodils
Narcissus tazetta var.orientalis or Chinese Sacred Lilyis an ornamental flowering species from the Mediterranean grown for its captivating and overpowering scent. It is typically grown as an indoor decorative element as a potted flower, cut flower, or in the outdoor garden. The plant produces yellow-orange, orange, cream, or white cup-shaped flowers in early to late spring.
Cultivation: It is one of the easiest bulbs to grow since it requires average watering, well-drained soil, and full sun to part shade.
Very hardy and extremely easy to grow, miniature roses are a common sight in many gardens because they are available and thrive everywhere. These are small, deciduous flowering shrubs with small fragrant roses in various colors produced in late spring and summer. They look their best as garden edging or as container plants. They are non-toxic to animals.
Cultivation: Full sun, moist and well-drained, and slightly acidic soil.
Exacum affine -Persian Violet
Persian Violet has a lifespan of two years, but during this time it will reward you with masses of lovely, sweetly scented flowers in shades of white, purple, or blue. They look amazing in taller containers or pots.
Cultivation: Position them in a sunny spot protected from direct sun, west or south exposure is ideal. Provide constant humidity and loose, light, well-drained soil.
Calamondin – Citrus mitis
Plant this miniature citrus in the patio, a backyard tree, or as a hedge and you will enjoy not only its edible fruit but also its lovely white flowers and glossy green foliage. It is well adapted to the household environment.
Cultivation: Bright to medium light, but provide full light and some part shade outdoors. Place outdoors in the warm months. Water once the soil surface is dry. Keep the leaves dust-free.
Not all cyclamen plants are fragrant, so select them carefully. Cyclamen persicum is one evergreen fragrant species that flowers in winter and spring.
Cultivation: Provide temperature up to 18 degrees C, a humid atmosphere, and lots of water.
Polianthes Lily attracts myriad plant growers and enthusiasts both because of its beauty and scented flowers. The plant bears lily-like trumpet-shaped white flowers on long, thick, grass-like stalks. They are produced in late summer.
Cultivation: Plant it in a sunny location and maintain temperatures at around 20 degrees C in the summer and above 10 degrees C in the winter.
Honeysuckle is a vigorous shrubby climbing plant that features white, tubular flowers with a very strong fragrance that spreads through the entire backyard in July. It makes a great fence covering plant and makes a great companion plant to roses. It attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Cultivation: Well-drained, moist soil and make sure the roots are in the shade. Provide west or east exposure.
Cananga odorata – Ylang-Ylang
Native to the Indo-Pacific region, this is a fast-growing medium, evergreen tree with its exceptionally scented distinctively shaped yellow to greenish-yellow flowers used in making essential and hair oils, perfumes, and many other cosmetic products. The flowers are accompanied by fruits, olive-like berries. The plant is often visited by nocturnal moths.
Cultivation: Plant it deep in the well-drained soil. Propagate from seeds. Susceptible to wind damage, heavy rains, or dry periods.
Viburnum carlesii “Korean Spice”
Korean spicebush is a slow-growing deciduous shrub that bears initially pink sweet-smelling flowers that gradually turning white as the plant matures. It thrives in zones 4-7 and blooms in late spring.
Cultivation: Full sun to partial shade, moist and quick-draining, mildly acidic soil and fertilize in spring.
Jasminum species are very popular often climbing shrubs that bear intensely scented, white, star-shaped flowers that transform a dull into the fragrant garden. One such species is Jasminum officinale.
Cultivation: It appreciates full sun but can bloom in dappled shade as well. It prefers heavy, clay, alkaline, or sandy soil.
Roses have always been emblems of femininity, sophistication, and elegance commonly gifted to women for Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, coming-of-age celebrations, or even as a simple “I Love You” message. They make excellent bouquets, that’s for sure, but also flowering shrubs in your outdoor garden with their intoxicating aroma and come in a variety of shades.
Cultivation: Choose a sunny location with good drainage, water occasionally and fertilize monthly during the warm months.
Oncidopsis Nelly Isler
This is a hybrid orchid named after the discoverer’s wife. It usually produces red or pink long-lasting and beautifully scented flowers with a yellow sepal in the center all year round. The flowers have an intense lemony fragrance.
Cultivation: Choose a spot that receives semi-shade, water weekly, fertilize monthly and you will get plenty of orchids with an intense scent.
Nicotiana alata – Tobacco Flower, Jasmine Tobacco
This is a very popular ornamental flower that looks its best as a bedding plant. It produces flowers in various colors-pink, purple or red in early spring and mid-summer. There are around 70 cultivars of flowering tobacco plants. Select them according to your sensibility and the effect you want to achieve.
Cultivation: Plant Jasmine Tobacco in a partially shady area in well-drained soil.
Named in the honor of William Brass, this is a vigorous grower with white to brownish-colored flowers widely distributed in Mexico and Brazil.
Cultivation: Brassia thrives in an environment with warm temperatures, medium humidity, and airy soil mixed with coco chips or coarse bark.
Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is a short perennial plant that transforms the ordinary appearance of ground into an exceptionally white, floral blanket. The tiny, white flowers look like little bells and are very generous with the amounts of charming, sweet smell they produce. You can also display them as cut flowers in a decorative vase. As if that wasn’t enough, Lily of the Valley is low-maintenance and trouble-free – a perfect candidate for everyone’s garden. Toxic if ingested.
Cultivation: Lily of the Valley requires full sun to partial shade, well-drained and moist soil, apply organic compost every autumn and propagate from seed.
Scented Hoyas – Wax Plants
Wax plants are one of the most beautiful wonders in the plant world. Each hoya is unique in its own way, with clusters of overwhelmingly fragrant star-shaped flowers. They make exceptional hanging baskets positioned high so their beauty can be fully appreciated.
Cultivation: Display hoyas in a sunny spot and water them when the soil is 2 cm dry.
TIP: Combine scented and non-scented plants to create a larger display without an overwhelming amount of fragrance, for example, peace lily, scented hoya, scented cyclamen.
Gorgeous and highly fragrant white, red or pink flowers that stand out beautifully amidst the large, green leaves with a pale green central vein. It is commonly grown in outdoor gardens as an ornamental shrub.
Cultivation: Fairly tolerant of drought and wind, but vulnerable to frost. This said, bring them indoors to overwinter.
Sweet autumn clematis is a fragrant twining vine native to Japan that produces showy creamy-white blooms from August to September. It is often invasive and it can self-seed readily and often. The leaves are glossy oval to elliptic.
Cultivation: This plant is flexible as far as light is concerned and it can tolerate considerable shade. Plant it in well-drained soil and prune a lot after flowering. Prone to fungal diseases.
Philadelphus coronarius – Mock Orange
‘Avalanche’ is a deciduous shrub that produces some of the most fragrant flowers in the genus. It bears white, cup-shaped flowers in late spring and they contrast magnificently with small, oval, dark green leaves.
Cultivation: Partial shade in the fierce summer, evenly moist well-drained soil and propagate from hardwood cuttings. Pest and disease-free.
Brugmansia x candida- Angel’s Trumpet
Originating from America, this is a genus of small trees or shrubs with eye-catching beautiful, pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of white, yellow or pink. Still, they can make good container plants in indoor gardens. The knock-out evening fragrance makes it a favorite for a big, bright room.
Cultivation: Acidic, moist and well-drained soil, full sun, very frequent watering and fertilize twice a month during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer.
Syringa vulgaris – Lilac
This is a genus of around 20 flowering plants, family Oleaceae native to Southeast Europe. Syringa is a small tree that produces tiny purple flowers in clusters that have an intense, heady aroma from April to May. It is commonly cultivated in backyards.
Cultivation: Loamy or sandy soil that drains well and retains moisture at the same time.
Primula vulgaris – Primrose
Primrose is a perennial European plant that’s neither demanding nor easy to grow. It produces very showy and fragrant pale yellow blooms in April.
Cultivation: Partial shade, average watering and propagate by division. Susceptible to insects and viruses.
Osmanthus fragrans – Fragrant Tree Olive
Tea Olive is a shrub or a small tree from Asia that features glossy and leathery green leaves and exceptionally fragrant flowers in white or orange. The word “Osmanthus” means “fragrant flower”.
Cultivation: Sweet Olive shrub requires full sun to partial shade, moist soil, prune when needed and bring it indoors in a container to overwinter.
Hedychium coronarium – White Butterfly Ginger Lily
This is an aquatic perennial ornamental plant, hugely invasive in waterlogged areas, so it won’t rebel if you overwater it. It produces white flowers with a lovely scent.
Cultivation: It appreciates waterlogged habitats, high temperatures, light shade, and humusy soil. It doesn’t tolerate frost.
Murraya paniculata – Orange Jasmine
Excellent either as a hedging or container plant, Orange Jasmine bears clusters of creamy white perfumed flowers in early spring to late summer. Foliage is also spectacular, lush, glossy, deep green, and lanceolate.
Cultivation: Find it partially shaded location and rich, well-aerated soil.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum – Queen of the Night
This is a nocturnal cactus species, which means that its showy, fragrant flowers open during the night and make everyone’s evenings more pleasant. They’re borne on upright, flat stems.
Cultivation: To make Lady of the Night bloom, plant it in rich, fertile soil, water moderately when the topsoil surface has dried out somewhat, regular humidity, and filtered light.
Gardenia jasminoides – Cape Jasmine
Though not the easiest shrubs to grow, Gardenia jasminoides species are one of the best fragrant flowers you can find. And they are simply irresistible with their intoxicating, waxy, creamy-white flowers and glossy, bright green foliage with deep green venation. Plus, they are available and thrive in most USD zones. So what are you waiting for? They attract birds and also make amazing cut flowers. It grows into a large plant in warm and frost-free climates.
Cultivation: Partial sun, average watering, moist and slightly acidic, and well-drained soil.
Cestrum nocturnum – Night-Blooming Jasmine
Open at night and closed during the day, the flowers of Night-Blooming Jasmine are white and tubular that emits one of the most intense scents in the entire floral world. It is also called Queen of the Night, Dama de la Noche, and Lady of the Night.
Cultivation: Bright, filtered light, moist soil and grow it from seeds.
Cascabela thevetia – Yellow Oleander
Evergreen shrubs or small trees, Yellow Oleander plants produce fragrant and long-lasting yellow flowers that are organized in clusters and attract various pollinators because of their nectar and fruity fragrance.
Cultivation: Full sun, well-draining soil, amend the soil before planting and water regularly.
Telosma cordata – Pakalana
Native to India and China, Pakalana or Chinese Violet produces sweet, fragrant, citrusy flowers in shades of pale apple-green or yellow. The foliage is large and reminiscent of sweet potato leaves.
Cultivation: Plenty of sun, well-drained soil, propagate from seed and ensure some kind of support like a trellis. Susceptible to insect attacks, especially aphids and mealybugs.
Brunfelsia pauciflora – Yesterday Today and Tomorrow
Yesterday Today and Tomorrow features a stunning display of initially purple flowers that gradually turn into blue and white. Their fragrance is equally delightful as the sight of them.
Cultivation: Let the plant soak up early morning to late afternoon sun and prune selectively to maintain its shape.
Lathyrus odoratus – Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas bears a single beautiful flower with a delicious smell on a long, thin stem, sometimes more than one. The flowers come in pink, red, and purple, though it is not uncommon to see a gradient effect as well. Cultivating these, you won’t be able to recognize your own garden.
Cultivation: Sweet and low maintenance, Sweet Peas require frequent watering, monthly feeding with a high potash fertilizer, and pick flowers regularly and use them for a bouquet to refresh your home. Grow them from seeds.
This is a twining species that produces masses of purple or blue very fragrant flowers in spring and summer. This is an invasive plant, so don’t plant it near your home.
It is highly toxic to humans and animals if ingested.
Cultivation: Provide full sun, fertile and rich soil, and a climbing structure.
Asiatic lilies – Oriental Lily
There is no person who’s never seen or sensed the magnificent and intoxicating smell of oriental lilies. A Lily flower is a very popular flower. A sight to behold and incredibly easy to grow, these bulbs will reward you with showy, large, hot pink flowers borne on upright, thick stems. They thrive even in colder zones, with less than ideal soil conditions. And because they meet the accessibility guidelines of most growers, it is no wonder why they’re so popular.
Cultivation: Dig them up in winter. Use a slow-release fertilizer in spring. A half-eaten petal is a close sign of deer intrusion.
Heliotropium arborescens – Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie is a marvelously scented, tender plant with neat deep green leaves and violet flower clusters that have a fruity scent like cherry and vanilla, hence the name. A delicious scent that comes from the flowers and seduces the salivary glands of everyone in the house.
Cultivation: Full sun to partial shade, well-drained and sandy soil and grow from seeds under grow lights.
Magnolia graniflora or Southern Magnolia is a spectacular sight in an outdoor garden. It bears glossy green leaves and stunning white flowers, very delicate and rich in scent, incomparable to other flowers.
Cultivation: Amend the garden soil so that the pH is neutral. Plant it deep in well-drained loamy soil, ideally in full sun.
Prized for their many-petaled, enticing, and colorful flowers, English roses make an impactful contribution to the attractiveness of any outdoor garden. And they make every passerby turn around. Plus they thrive in most hardiness zones.
Cultivation: Deadhead finished blossoms. Feed, mulch and prune regularly to keep English roses healthy and thriving.
Maxillaria Tenuifolia – Coconut Orchid
This orchid is a necessary addition to any garden and here is why. Well adapted to most household conditions and easy to grow, this coconut orchid, as its nickname suggests, emits a lovely and irresistible coconut scent.
Cultivation: Bright indirect sun, a potting mix that contains coconut husk and perlite, and repot every second year.
This is a genus of widely popular perennial winter flowering plants named after a German botanist and doctor. These plants thrive in outdoor or indoor gardens, in the ground, or in containers, even as cut flowers.
Cultivation: Amend the soil with the addition of sand or vermiculite and water occasionally.
Dianthus – Sweet William
Characterized by its unique flower coloration and spicy fragrance, dianthus is commonly used in borders or container displays. It is a hardy species that thrives in most regions.
Cultivation: Provide at least 5 hours of sun, in alkaline, well-draining soil.
Matthiola incana – The Beauty of Nice
This is an annual, self-propagating plant ideal for containers or greenhouses. The flowers are usually pink and exceptionally fragrant.
Cultivation: Regular pruning is needed. Temperature over 18 degrees C. Provide higher humidity than usual.
Lobularia maritima syn. alyssum maritimum – Sweet Alyssum
This species makes an ideal candidate for a lovely hanging basket because of its tiny white, yellow, orange, or pink flowers that wake up in June.
Cultivation: Well-drained soil, moderate moisture and start them from seed.
Cosmos atrosanguineus – Chocolate Cosmos
Chocolate Cosmos is one of the most popular flowering plants with deep maroon to almost black petals. I’d call this plant Cherry and Chocolate, because of the combination of color and delicious, chocolatey smell. Check out some other plants featuring black flowers.
Cultivation: Provide at least half a day of bright sun, fertile soil, and don’t overwater.
Wrightia religiosa – Water Jasmine
Native to China, Water Jasmine is a tropical species that bears white, pendant, and very fragrant flowers. The roots of the plant are often used for medicinal purposes and it is a holy plant for Buddhists. Use it as a hedging plant.
Cultivation: Prune regularly and provide plenty of water. It needs very little care.
Rangoon creeper- Combretum indicum
This is a double-flowered climbing or twining plant that produces white flowers and gradually turning red. It is grown for its ornamental and fragrant flowers, especially in aromatherapy gardens.
Cultivation: Provide full sun and water moderately.
Dipladenia Red Delight
This is one of the best flowering plants you can get in shades of red, yellow, or white. It is ideal for pots and it can also be trained to grow on a trellis.
Cultivation: Provide plenty of sunlight and prune it twice per year.
What foliage plants are fragrant?
Who says that only flowering plants can add a burst of sweet scent to our home? Herbs can do that, too, like rosemary and thyme which you can cultivate in a rock garden. Both release a wonderful, spicy scent when brushed against in passing.
There are myriad fragrant flowers in the plant world. Their significance to our senses and well-being cannot be overemphasized and the impact they make on our homes. They provide a psychological boost, simulate our mind, and improve our mood with their calming properties.
We bring scented plants into our houses in the summer to share our happiness with them and during the darkest months to remind ourselves of the smells and sights of spring and summer that are nearing.
Hopefully, this list has helped you choose which ones you want to try cultivating and really reap the benefits of their presence.