Add another dimension to your landscape by not just having green and visually appealing plants that serve to beautify your home and garden. Planting shrubs to appeal to the sense of smell is just as important to enhance your enjoyment of your yard as anything else!
Scent connects us to memories and helps deeper instill new memories, it calms and relaxes the spirit and mind, and can be uplifting, invigorating, or soothing! Drawing in pollinators, and filling your bouquets in perfumed blooms, scented flowering shrubs are wonderfully versatile and multi-purpose aspects of a completed landscape design.
Don’t forget this all-important layer when planning your garden design this year and add some shrubs with powerful olfactory impact!
There’s a wide range of ornamental flowering shrubs that are highly perfumed for your landscape, whether you live in the hot southern states, the arid west, or the chilly northern US!
There’s nothing like seeing the first blooms after a long cold winter, and it's even more refreshing to get hit with that first waft of sweet perfume! In addition to spring ephemerals and bulbs, these are the top flowering shrubs to add that extra layer of enjoyment to your cold-growing zone landscape!
The gorgeous bottlebrushes of the fragrant Summersweet Bush will have you and all your pollinators nose-deep in the shrubbery! Hummingbirds will arrive to ship the nectar of these sweetly fragranced shrubs! Very cold hardy throughout USDA growing zones 3 and 4, and up to zone 9, Summersweet are very easy to grow and have a long bloom season in the spring and early summer months.
Clethra does well and thrive in acidic, low-lying, wet areas and they perform well in shady areas. Some popular varieties of Summersweet are Ruby Spice, Hummingbird, Sixteen Candles, Sugartime, and Vanilla Spice. The smell is described as being reminiscent of honeysuckle.
Spring snowball shrubs, the Viburnums have both native cultivars and include many cultivars from outside the US that feature spring-flowering, fall fruiting, and even some broad-leaved evergreen versions in their wide-ranging family resumé. From the ultra-fragrant aroma of the Burkwood Viburnum, Judd Viburnum, and Cayuga Viburnum, to the Allegheny Viburnum and aptly named pink-flowered Fragrant Viburnum, the fragrance is described as heady, spiced, and mixed with amber notes. Then there's the spicy-sweetness of the Koreanspice, or spelled Korean Spice (Viburnum carlesii) Viburnum shrubs feature big pompom-like clusters of pink to white flower clusters in the spring that fill your yard with spicy-sweet perfume! The waxy little flowers are packed with nectar for pollinators and, if there’s a pollinator shrub nearby, your songbirds will benefit from clusters of berries in the fall too! Add in easy care and hardiness from USDA zones 4 and 5 to 9, and gardeners in cooler zones can also enjoy brilliant fall colors! Try the Spice Baby™ Koreanspice for a smaller dwarf version, but all Viburnum are wildly nectar-rich resources for bees and other beneficial pollinators!
Flowering Pieris shrubs are both cold and heat-tolerant fragrant shrubs that not only become loaded with cascading showers of dainty white to pink bell-shaped flowers but also fantastically colored new growth and fall color too! Broad-leaved or semi-broad-leaved evergreens these ornamentals are hardy from USDA growing zones 5 to 8 and 9. From the little Japanese Andromeda Sarabande that blooms in late winter or early spring, to the xeric and colorful Mountain Fire, to the sizable Scarlet O’Hara, these multi-purpose flowering shrubs bring dramatic four-season interest to your landscape plus the beloved scent of Lily of the Valley when these Japanese Andromeda are in bloom!
Mockorange, or Mock Orange, is named so because of its orange blossom-like perfume and creamy drifts of gorgeous white blooms. The North’s answer to flowering Gardenia, these cold-hardy flowering shrubs have drifts of sweet, citrusy-smelling flowers that are absolutely divine! Hardy down to USDA growing zone 4 and tolerating heat up to zone 8, there is even one Mockorange, the Illuminati Tower® that handles chill down to zone 3! The native cultivar Goose Creek has green-gray foliage and double blooms and the dwarf Miniature Snowflake allows any sized garden to enjoy these powerfully fragranced shrubs! The fluffy white clusters of the Bouquet Blanc Mock Orange and the pointed petals of Buckleys Quill are just a few of the many low-maintenance varieties we carry.
Ranging in hue from violet, blue, lilac, pink, red, purple, and white, the dizzying array of sizes, forms, colors, ease-of-care, and extreme cold-hardiness of the Lilac bush (Syringa) family are among the best-known spring fragrance powerhouses around! Extremely cold tolerant down to arctic USDA hardiness zones 2 and 3, you’ll be unable to find a Lilac able to flower past zones 7, and just a few for zone 8 because of the lack of chill hours. So Northern climate gardeners have the corner market on these sweetly floral and distinctly smelling deciduous shrubs! Inspiring poetry and romantic visions, flowering Lilacs are top-tier cold-hardy flowering shrubs for your landscape!
Forming long panicles of tiny flowers, each packed with a sweet fragrance that ranges from honeyed, to a bit spiced, and all very floral. In fact, it’s hard to find anything to compare to their unique perfume! Members of the Syringa pubescens variety are said to have the most perfume, but having more of something that is already greatly abundant is almost redundant! Any Lilac you choose for your garden will have an equal impact on your nose as well as your eyes! Fill vases with the blooms and enjoy their spring display, followed by their soft green foliage all growing season.
When it’s steamy, sticky hot, or arid desert-like conditions where you live, having a plant that will not only thrive but also perfume the entire garden takes the cake! Surround yourself with these fragrant beauties to add shade and privacy to your landscape as well as their perfume to help you get through the sweltering hot summers.
Fragrant Tea Olive bushes (Osmanthus fragrans) are a fantastic larger broad-leaved evergreen shrub that handles heat throughout USDA growing zones 7 to 11. The clusters of white tubular flowers are reminiscent of waxy Lilacs and the fragrance has been described as fruity like an Apricot or Peach with some Jasmine and Gardenia mixed in! Blooming in early spring and sporadically reblooming throughout the summer and even the fall, The Fragrant Tea Olive is definitely one to include in your garden! Grow as a large shrub or ‘limb it up’ to create a multi-trunked tree form that perfumes the entire area!
All Butterfly Bushes are fantastic in cooler USDA growing zone 5 throughout USDA growing zones 9, 10, and 11! The long pointed spires of tiny flowers that cluster along the terminal ends of these shrubs are vibrantly colored and as sweet smelling as can be! Buddleia has flowers with a sweet honey fragrance that is strongest at midday. They are almost constantly aflutter with their namesakes and often have Hummingbirds whirring from bloom to bloom to sip the nectar! Plant scientists started breeding sterile and seedless cultivars that were much better behaved in garden settings, so now nothing is holding any area back from having its own Butterfly bush! Plus the amazing array of sizes available means gardens of all sizes can enjoy one too!
The only flowering vine on our list, Jasmine is one powerfully fragrant vertical ornamental with creamy white tubular blooms that open into fragrant pinwheel-like stars. Once mature, the entire Vine will be smothered in white and perfume the entire yard from its trellis or arbor. Creating a romantic look in the landscape on its own, that almost sickeningly-sweet floral aroma whisks you away! Both the Star Jasmine and the Pink Jasmine conjure up Southern Hospitality and steamy Southern nights. Perfect for Moon Gardens and vertical gardening, the spring and summer blooms are intoxicating! Pink Jasmine adds its unique hue to this list since it’s covered in pink buds and pink stems that smother the glossy dark-green tropical foliage.
With a glorious spiced honeysuckle scent with sometimes fruity notes, the pinkish-purple buds that open to pinkish-to-white waxy flower clusters, Daphne flowering bushes perfume your gardens and attract pollinators galore throughout USDA growing zones 6 to 10. These hot climate broad-leaved evergreens have glossy foliage that provides year-round greenery, in addition to the long-lasting spring-to-summer blooms. Both varieties of Daphne at Nature Hills include the Eternal Fragrance Daphne that can occasionally rebloom in the summer and the Daphne Marianni® that has unique creamy yellow and green variegated foliage!
Hardy broad-leaved evergreens throughout USDA growing zones that range from 6 to 7, up to zones 10 and 11, the ultra-fragrant Gardenia shrub is one of those well-known smells that are highly sought after as specimens, container plants, and even as perfumed hedges! The creamy white flowers resemble dollops of whipped cream and stand out against the dark, glossy year-round foliage. Best described as smelling like a powerful sweet floral scent with hits of creamy coconut, and completely divine! Perfume, candles, and air fresheners all try to embody the Gardenia fragrance but few compare to the real thing! While some may be a bit biased, they say the Aimee Gardenia and the August Beauty are the varieties with the most perfume, but we think any one of the many Nature Hills carries will delight the nose equally!
Rose bushes have an insanely large array of colors, sizes, and styles to choose from and many of them are highly fragrant. Best of all, there’s a Rose for your growing zone!
From the arctic-cold USDA growing zone 2-4 selections of fragrant Rugosa Roses like Hansa, and Blanc Double de Coubert. There are fragrant Climbing Roses like Mr. Lincoln and Fragrant Cloud. Every Hybrid Tea Rose, Grandiflora, and Floribunda variety has some that have incredible fragrances too! Gardeners in USDA hardiness zones 9 and up have an incredible selection of heat-tolerant Roses too! Check out all the fragrant Roses available at Nature Hills!
If you are not sure where to start, knowing your growing zone, and how much sun your garden has is the first step in narrowing down your selection. Flowering shrubs need full sun for the most blooms, and there are a few on this list that can handle a bit of shade too! Soil type and how much time you have to put into growing your shrub are next.
Check out our Garden Blog to learn more about finding the right shrub for your landscape and how to plant them to get your newest fragrant flowering ornamental off on the right ‘root’ from day one!
Plus, Nature Hills Nursery has customer support and a fantastic sales team to help you find the perfect fragrant flowering shrub for your needs!
Appeal to all your senses including the sense of smell creates a multi-layered garden that heightens all other senses, cements memories and helps create new ones, enriches your experience of the world around you, while both soothing and invigorating the mind, body, and spirit!