Lavender: scented garden flowersLooking to impress the neighbours with a garden that not only looks good, but smells great? You will be surprised at the range of scented flowers and plants you can grow in your own back garden for very little money.

Whether you are looking for strong scented flowers or fragrant leaves, the important thing is that you choose the right plants for the right situation. Within this article, I will split each group of my most fragrant flowers list into various parts of a typical garden such as shade, border, climbing and planters.

Note: If you are planning to develop a sensory garden, ensure that your chosen varieties aren’t poisonous. As a guide, I have placed a ‘*’ next to varieties that may require caution.

Scented plants for pots & planters

  1. Nicotiana
  2. Freesia
  3. Tuberose
  4. Verbena rigida: * Half-hardy annual bedding plant. Sweetly scented.
  5. Wallflower: * Hardy Biennial bedding plant. Lovely sweet, spring-time perfume.

Fragrant varieties for shade

  • Lily of the Valley *
  • Sweet Autumn Clematis
  • Viola: Trailing perennial. Sweet, violet scent.


Highly scented shrubs

  • Gardenia
    A shrub with an exotic and rich perfume. A part of the coffee family (but not coffee scented!). Glossy foliage, with white or cream rose-like highly scented flowers. Some varieties are hardy in the UK. Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ can be grown outdoors all year round. Very compact. Flowers also have culinary application. Flowers during spring and early summer.
  • Daphne odora*
    A sweet and very heady perfume. Intensely fragrant! A hardy shrub with glossy green or variegated leaves. This plant is considered toxic and the sap is also an irritant.
  • Roses
  • Sarcococca

Fragrant climbers

  • Jasminum Sambac
  • Clematis ‘Fragrant Oberon’: * Hardy perennial climber. Highly scented – lemon.
  • Sweet Pea: * Hardy Annual climber – heady perfume.
  • Sweet Autumn Clematis

Scented plants for borders

  • Alyssum ‘Sweet White’: Easy to grow hardy annual bedding flower, with honey scented flowers that form a ‘snow-drift’ like carpet.
  • Cleome (Spider flower): Half-hardy annual border flower. Sweetly scented.
  • Cornflower ‘The Bride’: Hardy annual bedding flower. Sweet, strawberry scent.
  • Dianthus – Sweet Williams: Hardy Biennial bedding flower. Sweet clove scent.
  • Heliotropium: * Half-hardy annual border flower. Cherry fragrance.
  • Laurentia ‘Avant-Garde Series’: * Half-hardy annual border flower. Sweet scent.
  • Nasturtium ‘ St. Clements’: Hardy annual trailer. Sweet scented.
  • Nemesia ‘Shooting Stars’: Half-hardy annual bedding flower. Coconut scent!
  • Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’: * Half-hardy annual border flower. Heady evening fragrance. A must if you are into scented garden flowers.
  • Scabious (Pin Cushion Flower): Hardy annual border flower. Sweet scent.
  • Stocks ‘Cinderella’: Half-hardy annual border flower. Spicy clove scent.
  • Sweet Rocket ‘Alba’: Hardy Biennial bedding plant. Sweet perfume.
  • Zaluzianskya (Night Phlox): * Hardy annual bedding plant. Herbal scent releases during the evening.

Scented perennials

  • Agastache (Mexican Hyssop): Semi-hardy perennial border flower. Highly perfumed foliage – herbal scent.
  • Aquilegia ‘Sweet Rainbows’ (Columbine): * Hardy perennial border flower. Great fragrance.
  • Begonia ‘Scentsation Mixed’: Tender perennial bedding flower. A mixture of different scents.
  • Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet): * Half-hardy shrub. Richly scented.
  • Centratherum: Half-hardy perennial border flower. Pineapple scented.
  • Dianthus ‘Fenbow Nutmeg Clove’ (Carnation): Hardy perennial border flower. Sweet nutmeg-clove scent.
  • Dianthus ‘Sonata’ (Pinks): Hardy perennial border flower. Sweet clove scent.
  • Echinacea ‘White Swan’ (Clone flower): Hardy perennial border flower. Honey scented.
  • Lavendar ‘Munstead’: Hardy shrub. One of the most familiar of all garden perfumes.
  • Lilium: * Half-hardy bulb. Sweet and powerful perfume.
  • Lily Tree: * Half-hardy bulb. Sweet and hypnotic perfume.
  • Melianthus: * (Honeybush) Half-hardy perennial border plant. Honey-scented.
  • Mirabilis ‘Broken Colours’: * Half-hardy annual/perennial border plant. Release scent in evening/morning.
  • Monarda: Hardy Perennial border plant. Bergamot scented.
  • Phaseolus ‘Snail Flower’: * Tender perennial evergreen climber. Sweet fragrance.
  • Polianthes ‘ The Tuberose Pearl’: Tender greenhouse bulb. Extremely highly scented! Citrus and Jasmine.
  • Helianthus ‘Maximiliani (Perennial Sunflower): Hardy perennial border plant. Light scent of chocolate.

There are some varieties that I’d recommend that aren’t really scented garden flowers as such, but do have fragrant foliage. Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Hyssop, if placed along the side of pathways can release plenty of lovely perfumes as people brush by them.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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