Plant for Fragrance

Some yellow primroses have a delightful scent.

Every year the garden is different. Some plants bloom early and some later depending on the weather. But you know that. This spring my yellow, fragrant primroses have been spectacular as always. FYI – it’s only some of the yellow ones that have a scent. That reminds me I’ll have to get some dark purple petunias later this spring. They smell like vanilla. I just picked up a heliotrope to scent my deck with licorice and vanilla. Their vivid dark violet flowers are intensely fragrant and spectacular. Butterflies can’t resist them Some say they smell like cherry pie. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Heliotrope arborescens ‘Fragrant Delight’

My pink jasmine is doing its thing, too. This common vine can easily overgrow it’s spot. Prune periodically to keep your vine in bounds. Fragrant Carolina jessamine has finished blooming so now is a good time to prune them back.

The word fragrance comes from the 17th century French word fragrantia, meaning sweet smell. A garden’s fragrance can be as unforgettable as its appearance. The scent of a particular flower can make you remember past times and places. Plant them along a garden path to enjoy as you stroll, in containers to scent a deck or patio or locate them beneath a window and let their aroma drift indoors.

Old fashion lilacs are still blooming in some gardens. Nothing ways “spring” like the legendary scent of these shrubs. Give them a spot in full sun with enough room for them to spread 6 feet wide. While most plants accept slightly acidic soils, lilacs are an exception. Dig lime into your soil at planting and side dress yearly if your soil is acidic.

Clematis armandii (Evergreen clematis) flower.

Another vanilla scented vine is Evergreen clematis. They make a great screen with 6 inch long, glossy leaves and creamy white, saucer-shaped, vanilla scented flower clusters. Provide study support for them to climb on. They are slow to start but race once established.

Citrus blossoms really scent the air. Plant lemons oranges, mandarins, kumquats, grapefruit and limes in full sun areas. Established trees need a good soak every other week during the warmer months so keep them on a separate watering system from your other edibles.

Sweet Alyssum attract pollinators and smell sweet- just like their name.

Inside the veggie garden, include scented plants that attract beneficial insects. Fragrant lavender and sweet alyssum are good choices. For sheer enjoyment, plant perennial carnation and dianthus for their intense clove fragrance. Cinnamon Red Hots grow to 15 inches, are deer resistant, bloom all spring and summer and don’t need deadheading. Velvet and White border carnations are among the least demanding and most satisfying perennials in the garden. As cut flowers they are long lasting and highly fragrant in bouquets.

Fragrant shrubs that are easy to grow are Mexican Orange (choisya ternata) which blooms most of the year. Pittosporum eugenoides, tenuifolium and tobira all have tiny blossoms that also smell like oranges. The tiny flower cluster of Fragrant Olive (osmanthus fragrans) have a delicate apricot fragrance. Other fragrant shrubs include California native Philadelphus lewisii (Wild Mock Orange) and Calycanthus occidentals (Spice Bush) another native to our Central and Northern California mountains. Their fragrant burgundy flowers smell like red wine. Ribes viburnifolium, carpenteria californica and rosa californica are mildly scented, too.

Plant for fragrance. It’s your reward for all the care and tending you give your garden.