Perfume Your Garden

Consider adding a fragrant tree or plant near your patio or entrance area. Recommendations from Sally Scalera.

Fragrant Native Trees

The first set of fragrant plants are native, which attract and support our native insects. Native insects perform a variety of important functions, including aerating the soil, controlling insect and plant pests, and pollinating flowers.

Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) is a small, very fragrant tree that produces small yellow pompom flowers. It grows 15 to 25 feet tall with a 15 to 25-foot spread. The flowers are produced year-round, and this tree prefers a location in full sun. Sweet acacia is a slow-growing tree, and it does have thorns.

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) grows 12 to 20 feet tall with a 10 to 15-foot spread. It produces fragrant white flowers in spring. The fruit of this small tree attracts birds.

Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum) produces very fragrant white flowers from spring through fall. It can get 8 to 10 feet tall with a 5 to 12-foot spread. Find a location that receives full sun to partial shade. Fiddlewood has high salt spray tolerance and high drought tolerance. It prefers alkaline soils. It attracts birds to your landscape.

Simpson stopper (Myricanthes fragrans) can be grown as an understory tree or a shrub that can grow 5 to 20 feet tall with a 3 to 15-foot spread. It attracts birds and bees, and produces gorgeous flowers.

Exotic Plants

Sweet almond tree (Aloysia virgata) a very drought tolerant shrub or small tree that grows to 15 feet in full sun to partial shade. The white flowers produce a sweet almond scent that perfumes a large area.

Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) grows 6 to 10 feet tall and wide in full sun or partial shade. This fast growing, sprawling jasmine tolerates a wide range of pH and can handle soil moisture levels from wet to dry. The fragrance is lovely but very strong. One of these ever-blooming plants is sufficient to perfume a large area.

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) has a strong fragrance to go with its pure white velvety flowers. Gardenias can grow 6 to 10 feet tall with an equal spread. They prefer a lot of sun, though they do fine in partial shade. The flowers are produced in the spring. Pruning should be done soon after flowering has stopped. Gardenias will do best in soils that have been amended with organic matter. See gardenia varieties at:

Star jasmine (Jasminum nitidum) is a fast-growing shrub that can reach heights of 4 to 6 feet and a spread of 6 to 10 feet. The white flowers are produced from spring through fall and have a wonderful, light fragrance. Plant in a location that receives full sun or partial shade. Star jasmine tolerates a wide range of pH and dry soils.

Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall, if allowed. Prune the shrub regularly since it blooms on new wood. Plant in locations that receive full sun to partial shade. The flowers produce a heavy fragrance, and are used to make perfumes and as flavoring in tea. The following cultivars are available:

Belle of India, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Maid of Orleans.

Sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans) has a very delicate fragrance which, unlike the night-blooming jasmine, means a number of these shrubs planted together will not be overpowering. Sweet olive is a very upright, airy plant that can reach 6 to 10 feet tall with only a 3 to 4-foot spread. This plant produces its white, inconspicuous looking flowers in the spring and fall. An area with partial shade is perfect for these shrubs.

White butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium) spreads by rhizomes and can grow 2 to 3 feet tall. The pleasantly fragrant white flowers are borne at the top of each leaf stalk. After the stalk has flowered and turned yellow, cut it at ground level. Chop the stalk into small pieces and lie them on the ground, around the base of the plant, to allow the organic matter to return to the soil. This tropical-looking plant will look best in partially shady locations and also can be grown in containers.

Rangoon Creeper (Combretum indicum) is a large-growing shrubby vine that produces star-shaped flowers in a variety of colors ranging from white to deep red. The flowers, when they first open, are white, then they turn to pink and then finally red. The fragrance is sweet and fruity and will certainly get your attention if you get a whiff. The foliage is an attractive glossy, deep green. This vine can get quite tall and even climb into trees, if allowed. Grow it in full sun for best flowering.

Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is an evergreen vine with a very strong fragrance and attractive white flowers. This vine blooms in the summer, does well in full sun to partial shade, and will climb into trees, so be aware.

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