Scented Plants


 There is nothing quite like a fragrance drifting throughout a garden over summer. Fragrances become more intense as temperatures rise into summer.

Beware of Allergies

Some fragrant plants such as jasmine and honeysuckle can cause problems for allergy sufferers. Ask your neighbors before planting such things on a fence line.


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Garden scents arise from either flowers or foliage.

Many fragrant plants have both scented flowers and leaves.

Plants with only fragrant foliage have one main advantage over those with fragrant flowers: the fragrance is in the garden all year round.

Most of them also have one major disadvantage: the leaves must be brushed to release the fragrance.


When fragrant foliage is stood on, crushed, or in many cases just lightly brushed, aromatic oils are released into the air to create a fragrance in the garden. To get the full benefit of fragrant foliage, it needs to be planted alongside a path or somewhere where it will be brushed or bruised regularly.




Low fragrant plants between pavers that will be stood on where they spread onto the paver.



Beside a door or gate which will knock the plant when opened.



Beside the washing line (Where you can brush the foliage when you hang the washing).



Beside the letterbox, where it will be knocked by the postman.



Beside a pond where it may be knocked by birds or other animals coming to drink.



Beside an outdoor living area, where it is handy for you to crush a leaf when sitting outside.



Here are some suggestions of scented plants for you to try in your garden:


ALLIUM (Onion like plants)

Onion, garlic, chives and shallots are all Alliums. There are also many other, often very attractive plants in this group. The scent can vary from one type to another, but it is generally strong and pungent like an onion or garlic.


ANGELICA (Angelica archangelica)

A herb to 2.5m tall with large palm like sweet scented leaves. Angelica plants flower in the second year and then die.


ARTEMISIA (Wormwood, Southernwood, Tarragon etc).

A large variety of scented foliage plants are grouped into the Artemisias. They are mostly very hardy plants well suited to dry, sunny places. Most artemisias are ideal as a hedge plant.


CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis)

A low but hardy annual flower also called pot marigold, calendulas thrive in full sun and well drained soil. The foliage has a subtle, not strong scent.


CHAMOMILE (Anthemis nobilis)

There are several varieties of chamomile, all with scented foliage, though the most popular is the lawn chamomile (A. nobilis).



Chrysanthemums are best known as the colourful flowering Mothers Day plant in Australia. Though widely grown in the southern states of Australia, the chrysanthemum is often avoided in the north because of wet summers. If you spray for fungus, avoid watering the foliage, feed well and ensure good drainage, it is quite possible to succeed in subtropical areas.

Most chrysanthemums have strongly scented foliage.



Lemon, Orange, Cumquat and other citrus all have scented foliage. Citrus are able to be grown in most parts of Australia. Some (eg: Lime) require a warmer, sub tropical climate, and others (eg: Lemon) will tolerate very cold conditions (eg: Hobart).



There are many hundreds of conifers, all with a similar, typical, resinous scented foliage. There are however some subtle differences in the scent from one to another. Conifers also have the benefit of requiring minimal care and pruning.


DIOSMA (Coleonema pulchrum)

Diosma is one of the most widely grown garden plants we have. Related to citrus and boronia it's leaves have the same type of "tangy" scent common to citrus and boronia.


LEMON VERBENA (Aloysia triphylla)

A deciduous shrub to 3m tall with clusters of white flowers over summer.

Edible leaves have a strong lemon scent. A native of tropical America, lemon verbena is frost tender and requires a moist but well drained soil.



Here are just some of the many other scented foliage plants you may wish to try:

Caryopteris clandonensis (Blue Spiraea)

Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange)

Cistus ladanifer (Rock Rose)

Escallonia macrantha

Laurus nobilis (Bay laurel)

Lavendula (Lavender)

Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)

Mentha species (Mint)

Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle)

Origanum (Marjoram or Oregano)

Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)

Salvia sp. (The Sages)

Santolina (Lavender Cotton)

Tagetes (Marigold)

Thymus (Thyme)


Article by John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc.FIOH Principal ACS Distance Education

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