The wafting sweet and fruity fragrances from the petals of trees and shrubs add an extra level of enjoyment to your landscape. It's just one of the unseen, but profoundly felt, finishing touches a well-planned garden strives for! While plants use scent as an extra way to attract pollinators, or even repel destructive insects, trees explode into bloom on a grand scale and are a feast to the eyes as well as the nose!
In addition to the shade, fruit for some varieties, and many other benefits that trees impact your landscape and property, planning a garden with fragrant trees that bloom throughout the growing season just heightens the overall enjoyment of your garden!
Create and instill memories, whisk away a hectic day, invigorate or soothe, or set the mood - all using the power of fragrance! Typically produced in the petals of a flower, the volatile compounds and oils evaporate into the air and waft straight to your nose to draw you in!
If you are olfactory-challenged, then planting fragrant trees in your landscape serves up a nectar and pollen-rich buffet for your hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects! Plus, many of these fragrant flowering ornamental trees produce fruit for you and/or the songbirds too!
Check out these top fragrant varieties of flowering trees to make your landscape even more enjoyable!
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!
Black Locust (Robinia) trees may be full of thorns, but once you smell the heavy honey scent of their dripping clusters of flowers, you’ll know why they guard their treasures so well! Intensely fragrant, the creamy white blossoms resemble pea flowers, have notes of orange blossom, and are more prominent at dusk making them great additions to Moon Gardens! Honey Locust, also spelled Honeylocust (Gleditsia), flowers have honeyed ambrosia scents. Other Locust trees include the Purple Robe, and Twist Baby specialty forms for a wide variety of size and color options! The flowers have even been used to flavor drinks and preserves! Cold hardy down to USDA zone 4, many of these trees in both families can be found growing up to zones 7 through 9 too!
Apple blossoms including Crabapples, fruiting Cherry blossoms, other Stonefruit like Peaches, Apricots, Plums, etc., and many other fruiting deciduous trees put on a glorious display each spring! Their scented blooms embody the start of the growing season. All have varying degrees of sweet floral perfume and draw bees and butterflies to their drifts of delicate petals. If you don’t want the fruit to contend with, there is a wide variety of flowering-only ornamental trees in this family!
Sweet and floral, the big blooms of deciduous and broad-leaf evergreen Magnolia trees are heavenly scented! The deciduous Magnolias, also known as Tulip trees, have urn-shaped blooms in a range of pinks, purples, white and yellow, but all have a lemony or citrusy-smelling floral aroma that is divine! Cold-hardy from zone 3 and up, these are wonderful spring bloomers, very easy to grow, and turn heads from near and far! The Magnolia tree family includes the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron) which has the scented blooms of its cousins, plus fragrant twigs too!
The spicy flowers of the Linden Tree (Tilia), also known as Basswood and Tilia trees are renowned for their perfume as well as for imparting that fragrance in the form of flavor to honey produced from these blooms! (Hint: Linden attracts loads of bees and beneficial insects!) You only have to smell a blooming Linden tree once to be enamored with the extremely fragrant blooms, which last for several weeks in springtime. Tiny (but profuse!), honey-scented flowers hanging in cymes from the Linden trees every branch, smells absolutely amazing! Resistant, reliable and highly adaptable, Linden trees are wonderfully cold-hardy from USDA hardiness zones 3 and 4, up to zone 7 and 8.
Japanese Lilac Trees are the summer-blooming cousins to the common Lilac family. With big creamy white plumes closer to summer, these include the Snowdance™ and Ivory Silk Tree Lilacs that are sweetly scented with notes of honey, but not quite as perfumed as their smaller cousins. Incredibly cold-hardy from USDA zones 3 and up, these are resilient trees and reliable bloomers!
Fringe Trees, aka Greybeard trees (Chimonanthus), have unusual white streamer-like blossoms and are wonderfully scented, as are Sweet Flowering Almond trees, Golden Chain trees, and Yellowwood blossoms. The mighty Royal Empress tree blooms (Paulownia), tall Tulip Poplars, and the sizeable Northern Catalpa are all highly perfumed, but unfortunately, their flowers may be too high up to enjoy.
Well-known citrusy floral scents from orange blossoms, lime, and lemon blooms, and other Citrus trees envelop you in their exotic perfume! Many of these trees bloom heavily in the spring or summer, while others sporadically throughout the entire year! The white waxy blooms are wondrously scented and even have been used to create perfumes, flavored or scented water in beauty products, and as food flavoring! A wide variety of Citrus, especially Lime trees have aromatic leaves that perfume the air, flavor curries, and season many dishes in Asian cuisine. Of course, their fruit is wonderfully rich in scented oils too! Northern growers fear not, there are many dwarfs and small-scale Citrus trees that can be grown in pots for your patio and greenhouse, then moved inside during the cold months.
Smelling like honey, the dainty pink bell-shaped flowers of the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus) arrive in drooping clusters and are particularly attractive to bees, especially honey bees! The fruits even have a faint aroma reminiscent of anise in addition to their edible fruity, sweet-tart, and tropical-flavored fruit. Dwarf Strawberry and Marina Strawberry Trees are fantastically xeric, water-wise, fire-scaping, and broad-leaved evergreens! Perfect for both scented and edible landscaping!
Japanese Snowbell trees are darling ornamental flowering trees that do wonderfully in cooler growing zones of USDA 5 but handle hot summers up to 8 and 9! The bell-shaped blooms are light sweetly floral and resemble pink or creamy white fairy dresses. Pendulous blooms, these flowers hang in enormous drifts all over the entire tree throughout the spring and summer and attract hummingbirds and pollinators of all kinds!
With varieties including the Japanese native form of Snowbell, the moisture-loving Snowcone, the pink and weeping Marley's Pink Japanese Snowbell, the white-flowering Weeping form, and the mid-sized pink-flowering Pink Chimes Japanese Snowbell, or even the dwarf Evening Light Japanese Snowbell, there’s a fragrant tree suitable for your landscape!
While not the most fragrant in flower, the leaves of the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) are imparted with an herbal, spicy scent and used as Bay leaf seasoning in a wide range of culinary dishes, perfumes, and other applications. With a more masculine or medicinal aroma, Bay leaves are described as sweet but not overpowering. The similarly named but distantly related California Laurel (Umbellularia californica) is also known as the Pepperwood tree because when the leaves are crushed, they give off a scent like black pepper. The flowers have a subtle scent too! The tree whose bark Cinnamon comes from is also in this fragrant family!
The paintbrush-like plumes of the Mimosa tree family are described as having a sweet and honeyed, dry, even dusty perfume with notes of straw or hay. Also known as Silk Trees, each type of Mimosa tree can be a bit different and have varying degrees of fragrance intensity, but never overpowering. With burgundy-purple leaved varieties like Summer Chocolate and weeping Chocolate Fountain, the pink powder-puffs of the Chinese native Mimosa, and its cultivar the EH Wilson Mimosa, all are very attractive and heat-tolerant Mediterranean-looking trees for a wide range of growing zones!
As noted above, many broad-leaved evergreen Magnolia trees are perfect for hot growing zones including Southern Magnolia and more that are well-suited for USDA growing zones 9 and up. Long-lived, sweet citrusy-scented, and full of year-round foliage, these southern bells are a delight to behold!
If you are unsure where to start or how to select the best flowering tree for your landscape, knowing your growing zone and how much sun your garden has is the first step in narrowing down your selection. Flowering trees need full sun for the most blooms, and there are a few on this list that can handle a bit of partial shade too! Soil type and how much time you have to put into growing your trees are the next things to consider.
Check out our Garden Blog to learn about tree care, 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 a customer support and a fantastic sales team to help you find the perfect fragrant flowering trees for your needs!
Don’t forget to contact the Diggers Hotline in your area before planting any large shrubs or trees!
Appealing to your sense of smell when planning the perfect landscape, not only creates a multi-layered garden that heightens all other senses, but also enriches your experience of the world around you, while both soothing and invigorating the mind, body, and spirit!
Check out fragrant flowering trees and more at NatureHills.com today!