Ten Groovy Fragrant Plants
If you choose plants just for their looks, you may be missing out. Science shows fragrance – the invisible garden element – has the power to evoke emotions and change our moods. For Jared, nothing sweetens his mood like the smell of gardenias in springtime. The intoxicating white floral fragrance takes him back 15 years to fond memories of first working in a greenhouse as the scent filled the air. In summer, the uplifting scent is basil celebrated with a plentiful supply of herbal leaves and delish thoughts of caprese salad. In fall, the earthy scent of chrysanthemums spurs a bit of melancholy as it marks the end of the season. And in winter, the dense humus of a humid greenhouse wafts above tables packed with new plants and the promise of spring. The seasons truly are ushered in by the fragrant plants grown at Groovy Plants Ranch.
While humans may welcome the fragrance, plants cleverly use these scents, or chemical volatiles, to attract pollinators and deter predators. Plants pollinated by bees and flies typically have sweet scents while those pollinated by beetles have strong musty, spicy, or fruity odors. And their scent levels vary when the flowers are ready for pollination and when potential pollinators are active. Bees or butterflies pollinate plants whose scent is high during the day, while moths and bats pollinate plants whose fragrance is greatest at night.
Check out these ten common and not-so-common aromatic plants to elevate your garden inside and out.
- Lavenders – There’s nothing like the soothing scent of this purple flowering plant, and the fragrance profiles vary among the 450 different types. Classic French lavender is the loudest and used in perfumes and sachets. ‘Provence’ is our favorite for its fragrance and winter hardiness. Spanish lavenders, also aromatic, offer the showiest blooms with large petaled blooms. ‘Silver Anouk’ is our go-to for its compact size, silvery foliage and toughness.
- Lilies – Jared and Liz named their oldest daughter after this beautiful, perfumy flower. While many associate the floral scent with funerals, Jared rejects the notion. They’re one of his favorites for their fast growth and invaluable presence. Even at 100 feet away, you can catch whiffs of its lovely aroma. Both Oriental and Orienpet Lilies are fragrant, perform well in the garden and make gorgeous bouquets in late summer.
- Scented Herbs – Jared and Liz fill their patio seating area with a mix of potted herbs. When a gentle wind rises, the herbal fragrance surrounds the space with a delightful aroma. Try citronella geraniums, mint, lemon balm, rosemary and chamomile. Kids love picking peppermint leaves to chew or chocolate-mint geraniums to smell.
- Berlandiera – Speaking of chocolate, Berlandiera lyrata or chocolate daisy also sends the scent of cocoa wafting through the air. Their cheery yellow and red-striped flowers open at night and continue to bloom through the morning. Use this perennial to line a border for ongoing color all season.
- Purple petunias – These beloved annuals offer a strong and pleasant nighttime fragrance with their non-stop blooms. Bring the added dimension of fragrance to container designs and hanging baskets with these trailing, spiller plants.
- Angel trumpet – Brugmansia, commonly known as the angel trumpet, makes a stunning statement and instantly adds a tropical flair to any garden or patio. It’s dangling 8-inch blooms have an exotic perfume which is most intense at night. Be aware this plant is part of the poisonous nightshade family.
- Imperial Fritillaria – With crowns of orange and red blooms atop 3-4’ stems, these flowers stand regal in the spring garden. As an added bonus, you don’t have to worry about hungry squirrels digging up and devouring these beauties. Their skunky scent is the perfect deterrent. Jared even laughs recalling how a traffic officer at the Ranch was once fooled by the plant’s scent, thinking instead it was his “groovy” customers.
- String of Pearls – This succulent’s clusters of blooms have a thick vanilla-clove scent. In the greenhouse, the team often notices the flowers’ scents before they spot their dainty, white blooms. To encourage spring flowers, cut back on watering and move the succulents to a slightly cooler area (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the winter months.
- Hoyas – Yes, many collect hoyas for their beautiful waxy leaves, but their fragrant, porcelain-like flowers are equally impressive. Depending on the variety, the blooms smell like mocha, cinnamon, a sweet tootsie roll and other unique fragrances. Be patient; flowers appear on mature hoyas, typically 5 to 7-years old.
Corpse Flower – If utter repulsion is your thing, there’s nothing like the foul-smelling Amorphophallus titanum that may attract homicide detectives to your property. The plant is truly offensive in every way from its stench to its physique. Just look it up! We sell a number every year and are confounded by where customers are going to grow these stinkers.