The 60 Most Fragrant Flowers Across The World

Treat your eyes and your nose with any of these plants that release a sweet scent.

May 11, 2017
rose
Angel Face rose StellaBeePhotography/getty

Many flowers are aromatic, but only some are strong enough to perfume your outdoor living spaces. They come in all shapes, sizes, and types—from annuals, perennials, and roses to vines, shrubs, and trees. We asked 15 ornamental plant experts from nurseries across North America to nominate their strongly fragrant favorites (sizes are given as height, followed by width; zone numbers indicate ideal growing climates). 

(Transform the ordinary into the extraordinary with Rodale's The Perennial Matchmaker, your foolproof one-plant-at-a-time approach to picking perfect plant partners and growing your most stunning garden ever!)

flowering tobacco
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Annuals

Evening stock (M. longipetala): Small lilac colored blossoms with powerful lily-like perfume; excellent for window boxes and pots; 12 by 9 inches. 

Flowering tobaccos (Nicotiana alataN. sylvestrisN. suaveolens): Plants with tubular white flowers, fragrant mostly at night; 2–6 by 3 feet. 

Four-o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa and M. longiflora): Multicolored trumpet flowers cover bushy 2-foot-high plants; white flowers with orange-blossom scent; 2 by 3 feet. 

Fragrant amaryllis (Clidanthus fragrant): Sweet-scented yellow crocus-like flowers in mid-summer; 8 by 8 inches; perennial bulb in zones 9–11. 

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens): Large violet or white flowerheads with a vanilla-cherry pie scent; 12 by 12 inches. 

Mignonette (Reseda odorata): Powerful vanilla-raspberry fragrance from small yellowish flowers; attracts beneficial insects; direct sow in early spring; 12 by 9 inches. 

Night phlox (Zaluzianskya ovate): Unusual snowflake flowers are strongly fragrant at night; 1 by 2 feet. 

Related: 5 Easy Annuals Every Low-Key Gardener Needs

Peruvian daffodil (Hymenocallis species): Especially Sulfur Queen; white or yellow spidery summer-blooming bulb; 18 inches high; perennial in zones 8–10. 

Petunia (Petunia): Many modern varieties have little fragrance, but old-fashioned white or purple vining types release a strong lily-like fragrance at dusk; 1 by 1–3 feet. 

Stock (Matthiola incana): Spicy clove-scented flower spikes; excellent cut flowers; thrives in cool weather; 2 by 1 feet. 

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritime): Low-growing groundcover with honey-scented white flowers; highly attractive to beneficial insects; 6 by 8 inches. 

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberose): Extremely fragrant white flower spikes; late-summer bloom; 3 by 1 feet; perennial bulb hardy in zones 8-10, grown as an annual in cooler climates. 

Virginian stock (Malcolmia maritime): Small red or purple flowers with powerful scent; prefers cool weather; 16 by 6 inches. 

Wallflowers (Erysimum asperum [biennial] and E. perofskianum): Short spikes of yellow or copper flowers; 12 by 10 inches.

Related: Grow These 50 Pollen-Rich Plants To Help Your Local Honeybees

creeping phlix
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Perennials

Autumn snakeroot (Cimicifuga simplex): Foot-long spikes of white flowers in autumn; partial shade; 3 by 2 feet; zones 4–8. 

Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officials): Clusters of pink, red, or white 3-inch flowers in summer and autumn; 24 by 20 inches; zones 3–9. 

Chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata): Also known as Green Eyes; chocolate-scented yellow daisy flowers through summer and fall; 12 by 12 inches; zones 7–9. 

Related: 5 Gorgeous Summer Flowers That Grow Back Year After Year

Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera): Shade tolerant; spring blooms; 1 by 1 foot; zones 2–8. 

Cut leaf violet (Viola dissecta): 1-inch white or rose flowers and very attractive divided leaves; 6 inches tall; zones 6–9. 

Daffodils (Narcissus): Many varieties in the poeticus, triandrus, jonquil, and tazetta groups are highly fragrant, especially Buffawn, Canarybird, Cragford, Geranium, Trevithian, and Tripartite. 

Related: How To Create The Best Garden To Attract Butterflies

rose
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Roses

The rose is renowned for its beauty. Many varieties also fill the air with intoxicating perfume. Liz Druitt, author of The Organic Rose Garden, recommends these highly fragrant, long-blooming and easy-to-grow roses. She points out that many factors, including soil, climate, and variations in olfactory senses will affect how we each detect fragrances. 

Angel Face (3-foot tall lavender floribunda) 

Archduke Charles (4-foot tall red China) 

Buff Beauty (12-foot tall apricot hybrid musk) 

Hansa (5-foot tall crimson hybrid rugosa) 

Heritage (6-foot tall pale pink shrub) 

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Louis Philippe (4-foot tall red China) 

La France (4-foot tall pink hybrid tea) 

Maggie (6-foot tall crimson bourbon) 

Nur Mahal (4-foot tall crimson hybrid musk) 

Pierrine (2-foot tall coral pink miniature) 

Souvenir de St. Anne's (4-foot tall pale pink bourbon) 

Yellow Blaze (12-foot tall yellow floribunda) 

Related: 10 Types Of Roses Gardeners Can't Live Without

wintersweet flower
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Shrubs

Because they are so much larger than most perennials, flowering shrubs are great choices for maximizing fragrance. They are generally low maintenance and provide winter structure, plus early spring greenery. 

Azaleas: Many native deciduous azaleas have highly fragrant flowers in pastel pinks, yellows, and whites; including the coast azalea (rhododendron atlanticum), zones 5–9; the sweet azalea (r. arborescens), zones 5–9; the pinxterbloom azalea (r. periclymenoides), zones 4–9; the roseshell azalea (r. prinophyllum), zones 4–9; and the swamp azalea (r. viscous), zones 4–9. 

Banana shrub (Michelia figo): Powerful fruity fragrance and lustrous evergreen foliage; blooms spring through summer; 10 by 10 feet; zones 7–10. 

Box-leaf azara (Azara microphylla): Small but richly fragrant flowers smell of white chocolate in late winter and spring; sun to part shade; 30 by 12 feet; zones 6–9. 

Buffalo currant (Ribes odoratum): Powerful clove-scented yellow flowers in spring; 6 by 6 feet; zones 5–8. 

Carolina allspice or sweetshrub (Calycanthus florid us): Dark red 2-inch flowers in summer; sun or part shade; 8 by 10 feet; zones 5–9. 

Daphnes (Daphne x burkwoodii): Carol Mackie and Somerset produce powerful fragrance from small white or purplish flowers in late spring; 3 by 3–5 feet; zones 4–7. Many other daphne species are also highly fragrant, including garland flower (d. cneorum), alpine daphne (d. alpina), Caucasian daphne. (d. caucasica), winter daphne (d. odora), February daphne (d. mezereum). 

Related: 81 Border Plants That Are Better Than A Fence

Fragrant tea olive (Osmanthus fragrant): Strongly fragrant, very long-blooming (from autumn to spring) evergreen shrub; excellent container plant; sun to part shade; 20 by 20 feet; zones 7–10. 

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides): Long-blooming evergreen shrub producing white flowers in summer with extraordinary creamy fragrance; light shade; 4 by 4 feet; zones 7b–10. 

Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira): Wonderfully fragrant flowers in early summer with evergreen foliage; 2 to 8 feet high; zones 7–9. 

Lilacs (Syringa): Of the hundreds of varieties of this popular 8- to 10-foot high shrub, the most highly fragrant and disease-resistant choices for zones 3–7 are: Henri Robert, Excel, Vauban, Rhum von Horstenstein and Miss Kim. Gardeners in zones 8 and 9 need to choose heat-tolerant lilac varieties such as Angel White, Big Blue, Blue Skies and Lavender Lady. 

Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata): Superb rounded evergreen shrub with 1-inch white star-shaped flowers in late spring, again in fall; shade or part shade; 6 by 6 feet; zones 7–10. 

Mock orange (Philadelphus coronaries): Most species and varieties of this old-fashioned favorite have strongly-scented showy white flowers in early summer; 10 by 8 feet; some hardy to zone 3. Paper bush (Edgeworthia gardenii) yellow flowers in late winter; 5 by 5 feet; zones 7–10. 

Sweet box (Sarcoccoca hookeriana and S. confuse): Small white flowers with heady fragrance in late winter; evergreen; part shade to shade; 3 by 3 feet and 6 by 6 feet, respectively; zones 7–9. 

Related: How (And When) To Prune Your Trees And Shrubs Properly

Sweet pepperbush or summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): Showy 6-inch clusters of white flowers in late summer; shade to partial shade; 6 by 8 feet; zones 3–9. 

Viburnums (V. carlesii): Powerfully fragrant small white flower clusters in spring; sun to partial shade; 6 by 6 feet; zones 5–8. Many other viburnums are also highly fragrant. 

White forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum): Showy 1/2-inch flowers in late winter; 5 by 5 feet; zones 4–9. 

Winter hazel (Corylopsis glabrescens): 1-inch yellow flowers in early spring; partial to full shade; 15 by 15 feet; zones 6–9. 

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox): 1-inch yellow flowers in late winter; 12 by 12 feet; zones 6–9. 

Witch hazels (Hamamelis mollisH. vernalis, and hybrids): Long-lasting spidery yellow, orange, or red flowers open in winter; part shade or sun; 15 by 15 feet; zones 4–8. 

Related: 3 Reasons To Never Plant Butterfly Bush Again

Honeysuckle flower
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Vines

Variegated kiwi vine (Actinidia kolomikta): White flowers in early summer; 15 feet tall; zones 5–8. 

Cinnamon vine (Dioscorea batatas): Long-lasting flowers with strong, fresh cinnamon fragrance; roots are edible if cooked; 10 feet tall; zones 5–10. 

Clematis: Most of the large, showy hybrid clematis are not scented, but the following species are all richly scented (also all vigorous climbers, to 15 feet or more). Clematis armandii (2-inch white flowers in early spring, zones 7–9); C. flammula (star-shaped white flowers from midsummer on, zones 7–9); C. montana (various cultivars, zones 6–9); C. ternifolia (masses of star-shaped white flowers in late summer through autumn, zones 4–9). 

Honeysuckle (Lonicera): Several vining species are wonderfully fragrant, including Etruscan honeysuckle (L. etrusca), Goldflame honeysuckle (L. x heckrottii), common honeysuckle (L. periclymenum), and Italian honeysuckle (L. caprifolium); 10 to 20 feet tall; most are hardy to zone 5. 

Jasmines: Several species are legendary for their perfumes, including Poet's jasmine (Jasminun officinale), Winter jasmine (J. polyanthum), Arabian jasmine (J. sambac), and Pink summer jasmine (J. x stephanese); size and bloom times vary; most are hardy in zones 8–10.

Related: 5 Problematic Invasive Plants You Need To Rip Out Of Your Garden

Japanese apricot
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Trees

Amur maple (Acer tartaricum ssp ginnala): Clusters of white flowers in spring; 18 by 18 feet; zones 3–7. 

Black locust (Robinia pseudo acacia): White flower clusters in late spring; attracts beneficial insects; 80 by 50 feet; zones 5–9. 

Citrus (Citrus species): The spring to summer small white flowers of orange, lemon, and other citrus trees are richly scented. Most citrus species are cold hardy only in southern Florida and California, but they make excellent and fragrant container plants in other regions. 

Japanese apricots (Prunus mume): Showy red, pink, or white flowers in late winter; 20 by 20 feet; zones 6–9. 

Lindens (Tilia cordata and other species): Excellent shade trees with sweetly scented flowers in spring and early in summer; sun to partial shade; 30 by 60 feet; zones 3–7. 

Mt. Etna broom (Genista aetnensis): Clouds of 1/2-inch yellow flowers in summer, deciduous; 25 by 25 feet; zones 9–10. 

Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea): Pendant panicles of 1-inch white flowers in early spring, deciduous; 40 by 30 feet; zones 4–9. 

Related: 8 Fruit Trees You Can Grow Right On Your Patio

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