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Publication: Garden Guides
Planting for Fragrance

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                  Tuesday, January 16, 2007 

Flower scent is related to several factors, including the 
specific cultivar of flower and the environmental conditions 
during the flowering period. Sweet peas, for example, aren't 
as fragrant in hot weather as they are cool weather. The 
weather is most often the cause when plants don't develop 
fragrance as they normally are.


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Planting for Fragrance

When we think of flowers, most of us associate them with our 
favorite fragrances. A problem with the newer varieties of 
flowers, is the loss of scent. As they have made the blooms 
bigger and better, they have often lost the lovely fragrance 
of the old-fashioned flowers in our grandmother's gardens. 

If you use your nose at the nursery, however; you can still 
fill your backyard with sweet aromas. There are fragrance 
plants for all times of the season. You can select from trees, 
shrubs, bulbs, and annual or perennial flowers. 

The ideal place to locate fragrant plants is where you are 
the most. If you spend a lot of time on your patio or deck, 
plant the flowers in pots around your chairs and tables. 
Plants under your windows will waft their perfume into your 
home. Herbs release their scents when the leaves are brushed, 
so plant them along pathways or even between stepping stones. 
Remember, if you really like a fragrance, the more of that 
plant--the better! 

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Some annuals you might want to try: 

1. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia marima)--An often (maybe over) 
used edging plant, that has a very sweet fragrance. It 
prefers full sun and comes in purple or white varieties. 
2. Lemon marigolds (Tagetes)--Unlike the other marigolds, this 
one has a pleasant citrus smell. It is a good edging plant 
with a mounding form and is also an edible flower. 
3. Carnation (Dianthus)--Nothing compares to its distinctive 
spicy fragrance. Make sure you deadhead them often. 
4. Scented Geranium (Pelargonium)--The best scented plants! 
There are zillions of different varieties and scents to choose 
from. My favorites are: 
a. Peppermint (P.Tomentosum)--It smells just like candy canes 
and it makes a good hanging plant. The leaves are fuzzy. 
b. Apple (P. odoratissimum)--It smells like apple candy, and 
is also a good hanging plant. 
c. Rose (P. Graveolens)--One of the largest, very susceptible 
to whiteflies. An old- fashioned rose fragrance. 
5. Nicotiana (N. Alata)--Tube-shaped blossoms that the 
hummingbirds love. The fragrance is most noticable in the 
evening, so if you spend time outdoors then, this is the 
flower for you. 
6. Pinks (Dianthus)--Definately one you need to smell before 
you choose. Not all pinks have the spicy, carnation scent. 

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1. Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)--An herb that has 
a  licorice scent. Another favorite of hummingbirds. 
2. Hosta (H. plantaginea)--'Royal Standard' is particularly 
3. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria)-- They perfume the entire 
neighborhood. Generally, they like a moist, shaded area. If 
you can get them established, they will grow almost anywhere. 
4. Lavender (L. angustifolia)--Not reliably hardy here, but 
worth trying in your garden. 
5. Phlox (P. Paniculata)--The white varieties are the most 
6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)--An herb that is used as a 
groundcover in the moist shade under trees. Makes a good 
sachet when its dried, the leaves smell like freshly cut grass. 


1. Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)--A very sweet spring 
fragrance. Needs a lot of pruning to stay in good shape. 
2. Clethra (C. anifolia)--Blossoms in mid-summer and lasts for 
a long time. Very sweet fragrance. 
3. Roses (Rosa Rugosa)--Unlike their more tender relatives, 
these are hardy shrub roses. The blossoms have a spicy scent 
and appear off and on all summer. My favorite is the old 
variety "Hansa." 
4. Lilacs (Syringa)--'Miss Kim' is a good choice. A more 
compact shrub. 

There are many other plants that deserve a place in your 
fragrance garden. If you plan wisely, you can enjoy fragrance 
in your yard all summer long. Remember, smell before you buy!


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