You'll definitely want to stop and smell these blooms. Make it easier to enjoy them by planting near a window or snipping them for floral arrangements.

By Deb Wiley
Updated July 30, 2020
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Everyone likes a colorful bloom, but everyone loves a fragrant one! Happily, there's a number of easy-to-grow annuals that offer scented flowers you can plant in your garden. They usually have a light citrusy or sweetly floral aroma, though you may even sniff a few notes of rich chocolate. Add these plants to summer containers on your patio or porch so you can sit and enjoy their fragrance. Or, you could grow a few of these annuals together in a cutting garden, then snip the blooms for fresh bouquets and flower arrangements. Each of these plants has a distinct fragrance that will make your garden even more inviting.

detail of purple heliotrope
Credit: Helen Norman

1
Heliotrope

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) produces dense, flat clusters of deep purple, lavender, or white flowers that have a vanilla fragrance and deeply crinkled dark green leaves. It's sometimes called cherry pie plant because of the cherry undertones to the vanilla scent. Heliotrope is a tender perennial that can be grown outdoors all year in Zones 9-11 (in Zones 8 and colder, grow it as an annual).

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 2 feet tall

Buy It: 50 Heliotrope Seeds, ($7, Etsy)

tall columns of multicolored stock flowers
Credit: Julie Maris Semarco

2
Stock

Stock (Matthiola incana) and evening stock (Matthiola longipetala) may sound like soup bases, but they're clove-scented biennials (plants that take two years to set seed and die) that are often grown as annuals. The dense clusters of white, yellow, red, pink, or blue fragrant flowers are favorites for bouquets. Evening stock is more sprawling, with more narrow flower petals that open in the evening.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Buy It: Harmony Mix Stock Seeds, ($6, Burpee)

flowering tobacco white flowers
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

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Flowering Tobacco

Two types of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana alata and Nicotiana sylvestris, offer fragrance in beds, borders, and containers. Old-fashioned varieties are your best bet; many of the newer hybrid bedding-plant varieties carry little scent. All are relatives of tomatoes and peppers, with white, pink, red, or pale green blooms that offer scent in late afternoon or evening.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall, depending on variety

Buy It: 'Grandiflora' Flowering Tobacco, ($3, Swallowtail Garden Seeds)

four o clock pink flowers blooming in garden
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

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Four O'Clock

Four o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) earned its common name because its fragrant flowers open in late afternoon. A tender perennial hardy in Zones 9-11, but grown as an annual through most of North America, four o'clock's trumpet-shaped blooms are red, pink, white, or yellow and sometimes striped.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Buy It: 'Lemon Swirl' Four O'Clock Seeds, ($3, Select Seeds)

Sweet alyssum Lobularia 'Blushing Princess'
Credit: Justin Hancock

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Sweet Alyssum

It's too bad that sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) grows so low to the ground: The mounded masses of tiny white, pink, lavender, or violet blooms smell like honey. You can bring this groundcover closer to nose level by planting in containers, window boxes, or hanging baskets.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 12 inches tall

Buy It: 'Carpet of Snow' Sweet Alyssum Seeds, ($5, Burpee)

white moonflower blooms
Credit: Mike Jensen

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Moonflower

The white morning-glory flowers of moonflower (Ipomoea alba) appear to glow at night when its luscious sweet scent attracts pollinators. The blooms of this annual vine open in the evening and close each morning. Grow in full sun.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 15 feet tall

Buy It: Giant White Moonflower Seeds, ($5, Burpee)

Fantasy Pink Morn petunia
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

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Petunia

Grow old-fashioned varieties of petunias (Petunia selections) for a spicy, clove-like scent. The funnel-shaped flowers come in many sizes and color patterns.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 12 inches tall

Buy It: 'Red Velour' Petunia Seeds, ($5, Park Seed)

Comments (1)

Anonymous
June 30, 2019
Would have been nice to see the flowers.