23 of the Most Fragrant Flowers That Will Add Sweet Scents to Any Garden

'Star Gazer' Oriental lily
Photo: Jon Jensen

Enhance your outdoor space by including a few of these plants known for their wonderfully scented blooms. And remember, the surest way to find the best-smelling flowers you can grow in your garden is to follow your nose.

01 of 23

Dianthus

dianthus perennial pink flowers
Peter Krumhardt

A quintessential cottage garden flower, dianthus has fringed petals that look as if someone took pinking shears to their edges (hence its common name of pinks). This old-fashioned favorite is grown for its pink, white, red, or bicolor flowers, which have a spicy, clove-like scent. The blooms appear in spring and summer, depending on variety.

Name: Dianthus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

02 of 23

Gardenia

White Gardenia flowers
Denny Schrock

Producing one of the most beloved fragrances in the garden world, gardenias emit a powerful scent from their white flowers. Fall or spring is the best time to plant this shrub in warmer climates. This plant also makes a fragrant houseplant, though it can be fussy about indoor humidity. Container plants can be placed outdoors during the summer months and returned to moderate indoor temperatures in the fall.

Name: Gardenia jasminoides

Growing Conditions: Light to moderate shade in well-drained, acidic soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 8-11

Buy It: Gardenia ($21, The Home Depot)

03 of 23

Nicotiana

nicotiana flowers
Peter Krumhardt

The star-shape blooms of nicotiana can fill your garden with a strong, sweet fragrance all summer into fall. A relative of true tobacco, nicotiana is also known as flowering tobacco or jasmine tobacco. Plant it near your patio or a bedroom window in a moon garden because the scent is most pronounced at night. The blooms come in white, cream, yellow, lime green, pink, and red. And although it's perennial in frost-free regions, nicotiana is usually grown as an annual.

Name: Nicotiana alata

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 10-11

04 of 23

Oriental Lily

oriental lily flowers
Jon Jensen

Powerfully fragrant and stunningly gorgeous, Oriental lilies such as the famous 'Star Gazer' can perfume an entire garden. Oriental lilies bloom in mid- to late summer in shades of white, pink, and yellow. Whether you add this showy flower to your perennial border or container garden, it will provide long-lasting color and make a gorgeous cut flower.

Name: Lilium selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Stargazer Oriental Lily ($26, The Home Depot)

05 of 23

Garden Phlox

pink phlox bloom cluster
Bob Stefko

One of summer's most showy flowers, phlox bears big clusters of candy-colored blooms on tall stems from mid- to late summer. These blooms bear a sweet fragrance that's most apparent on warm, sunny days. This perennial border staple is also very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.

Name: Phlox paniculata

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

06 of 23

Rose

Eden Roses
Mary Carolyn Pindar

Well-deserving of its honor as America's national flower, the beautiful rose comes in a wide range of colors and many varieties are wonderfully fragrant. If possible, do a sniff test on roses before you buy them. Some are powerfully fragrant and others bear no scent at all. Plus, their fragrance varies as much as their color; some smell citrusy, others smell floral, musky, or fruity.

Name: Rosa selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: At Last Rose Live Shrub ($32, The Home Depot)

07 of 23

Sweet Pea

red sweet pea blooms
Kritsada Panichgul

Prized for their intensely fragrant flowers, sweet peas are a bushy or climbing annual that blooms from spring to early summer. As a vine, it will climb up to eight feet in a single season. Without support, it will grow in a bushy mound up to 30 inches tall. Their flowers appear in nearly every shade, plus stunning bicolors.

Name: Lathyrus odoratus

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 8 feet tall

08 of 23

Lily of the Valley

detail of lily-of-the-valley pieris andromeda
Bill Holt

Don't let this little beauty fool you; though it's small, lily of the valley packs a big fragrance in its nodding white or pink bell-shape flowers. It's a tough, low-care groundcover you can practically plant and forget in shady spots (in some areas it can spread too exuberantly so you may want to put it where you can keep it in bound). Keep this plant out of children's reach because all part of the plant, including its red berries, contain cardiac glycosides, which slow down the heart and cause irregular heart rhythm.

Name: Convallaria majalis

Growing Conditions: Full to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 1 foot tall

Zones: 3-8

09 of 23

Hyacinth

purple hyacinth flowers
Justin Hancock

For early spring perfume in the garden, nothing beats hyacinths. Plant them in fall in well-drained soil to enjoy their powerful scent the following spring. Flower colors range from purple to pink, red, white, and yellow. Grow hyacinths along paths, or in mixed borders, rock gardens, and containers. You can even force its bulbs to enjoy indoors during the winter.

Name: Hyacinthus orientalis

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Giant Hyacinth Mixture ($27, Breck's)

10 of 23

Bearded Iris

Iris ‘Clearance’
Brie Passano

Adorning spring gardens with their color and perfume, bearded irises are available in almost every color of the rainbow. Iris flowers have a range of fragrances, from anise to floral to fruity. 'Dusky Challenger' with its chocolate scent and dark purple color raises the standards of dark iris to a new level. The large heavily ruffled flowers and sweet fragrance of 'Belgian Princess' has an engaging appeal. The scented purple flowers with yellow beards of 'Variegata' are reminiscent of grape soda.

Name: Iris selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

11 of 23

Lilac

Lilac Shrubs
Bill Stites

Among the most recognizable spring-flowering shrubs, lilacs are hard to miss when they are in bloom, thanks to their intense scent and color. Lilacs are durable and able to put up with almost any growing condition except shade. They've also held symbolic meaning in many cultures for centuries.

Name: Syringa selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 12 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

12 of 23

Flowering Crabapple

bright pink Adams crabapple blooms on tree
Denny Schrock

Fragrant springtime blooms and jewel-like fruit make crabapple trees beautiful additions to just about any landscape. These small to mid-size trees are available in several colorful varieties, including those that have upright, column-shape branching, or weeping specimens. In spring, they are covered with fragrant white, pink, or red flowers, and in fall with small yellow, orange, or red apples that attract birds. Some of the most fragrant crabapple varieties include 'Charlottae', 'Brandywine', and 'Prince Georges'.

Name: Malus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 20 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

13 of 23

Heliotrope

detail of purple heliotrope
Helen Norman

If you ask a handful of friends what heliotrope in bloom smells like, you're bound to get a different answer from each person. Some people say cherry pie, others say vanilla, and yet others say grape jelly. No matter what you think it smells like, you're sure to love the sweet, rich fragrance that emanates from the pretty clusters of purple, blue, or white flowers.

Name: Heliotropium arborescens

Growing Conditions: Full sun in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 18 inches tall

Zones: 10-11

Buy It: Heliotrope Seeds (from $7, Etsy)

14 of 23

Lavender

lavender patch
David Patterson

Transport your nose to Provence by growing lavender in your garden. The flowers and foliage of this herb produce aromas that permeate the countryside of southern France in mid-summer. In your own garden, try growing it in a perennial border, rock garden, herb garden or scented garden. If you plant it next to a walkway, you'll catch a whiff every time you pass by.

Name: Lavandula selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in dry to medium, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Buy It: Lavender Seeds ($2, Etsy)

15 of 23

Sweet Alyssum

sweet alyssum white flowers
Peter Krumhardt

Producing carpets of lightly fragrant flowers in white, rose, lavender, or purple, sweet alyssum is an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance cool-season annual. Plant them in masses to enjoy its light honey fragrance in edgings, flower beds, rock gardens, hanging baskets, and window boxes.

Name: Lobularia maritima

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 9 inches tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Alyssum Royal Sweet Carpet Seeds (from $2, Etsy)

16 of 23

Peony

pink peony flowers
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

The old-fashioned, fuss-free peony can thrive for years with no special care at all. The petal-packed blooms make perfect cut flowers, and you can even dry peony flowers so you can enjoy them year round. However, not all varieties are fragrant. The double, white-and-pink peonies tend to be the most fragrant.

Name: Paeonia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

17 of 23

Moonflower

White Moonflower Datura
Mike Jensen

As its name suggests, moonflower opens at night. Like flowering tobacco, this plant is perfect for a moon garden because its big, pure white, trumpet-shape flowers are most fragrant after the sun goes down. Though this plant is beautiful, it is deadly poisonous if eaten, so keep it in a spot out of reach of children and pets.

Name: Datura selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 9-10

Buy It: Moonflower Seeds ($5, Etsy)

18 of 23

Southern Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora
Mary Carolyn Pindar

Among the most majestic trees, Southern magnolia is widely planted for its beautifully fragrant, creamy-to-white spring flowers. Its large, shiny, evergreen leaves with a fuzzy underside and red fruit in the fall add to its seasonal appeal. This large tree is one of the most stunning additions to any ornamental garden landscape. Be sure you know when to prune your magnolias so they'll look beautiful year-round without sacrificing any blooms. Dwarf magnolias are also available.

Name: Magnolia grandiflora

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 80 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

19 of 23

Mock Orange

Galahad mock orange
Bill Stites

Adding tons of sweet fragrance to the garden, mock orange is grown primarily for its very fragrant white flowers. Its four-petaled flowers resemble the shape of an orange blossom, though it doesn't belong to the citrus family. This deciduous shrubs' strong scent keeps deer away and its height adds privacy to any yard. Prune mock orange as needed immediately after flowering.

Name: Philadelphus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 12 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Mock Orange Seeds ($4, Etsy)

20 of 23

Viburnum

Korean spice Viburnum carlesii Aurora
Jerry Pavia

If you want sweet-smelling flowers in your garden and colorful berries in the fall, look to viburnum shrub varieties such as Korean spice viburnum and fragrant snowball viburnum. The flowers can be pale pink or white, and berries come in shades of blue, red, and even black. The berries will attract birds to your garden.

Name: Viburnum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 16 feet tall

Zones: 2-8

21 of 23

Tree Lilac

fragrant flowering japanese tree lilac
Denny Schrock

To get the same perfume in the garden as shrub lilacs but with a little more height, plant a Japanese tree lilac. You can find varieties with flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white. These lilacs are also pretty drought-tolerant once established.

Name: Syringa reticulata

Growing Conditions: Full sun in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

22 of 23

Daffodil

heckel daffodil white flowers close up view
Matthew Benson

Nothing smells like spring more than a garden full of daffodils. The yellow, orange, and white cup-shape blooms add texture and color to the landscape. If you want to start your fragrant garden early, force the bulbs indoors. Some of the more fragrant daffodil varieties include 'Actaea', 'Baby Moon', and 'Canaliculatus'.

Name: Narcissus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

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Azalea

Azalea Herbert
Bob Stefko

Colorful blooms and glossy leaves make azalea bushes stand out. If you have a shady place that needs some color, these shrubs can fill the gap. Soil is really important for azaleas; they prefer acidic conditions and are happiest with lots of organic matter like compost. Some of the more fragrant varieties are: 'Daviesii' (floral scent), 'Dora Amateis' (spicy scent), and 'Else Frye' (lily-like scent).

Growing Conditions: Part shade in acidic, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Lavender Formosa Azalea (from $4, Etsy)

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