The beauty of a scented garden uplifts the senses and the spirit.
Walking amongst sma trees and shrubs that put on a beautiful floral display as well as smelling great is one of the simple pleasures of being a gardener.
In this article, we have curated an aromatic selection of shrubs that smell nice, including quick growing guides.
Table of Contents
What Makes Flowers Smell?
The experience of smelling the nice or even nasty scent produced by a flower is a chemical reaction between organic compounds that the flower produces and olfactory (smell) receptors in your nose.
Methylbenzoate is an example of an organic compound that is produced by flowers to create a fruity floral smell.
The scent of a flower is created and stored as essential oil within cells that are part of the flower’s petals.
As these oils combine and evaporate off the surface of the petal, the flower’s scent is carried far wide.
Each flower species has its own unique formulation that it uses to lure the pollinators that are vital to their propagation and survival.
The aroma is captivating to bees, flies, hummingbirds, and butterflies who expect a rich reward of a nectar drink and nutritious pollen at the fragrances source.
Did You Know? Some of the scent chemicals produced by flowers may indicate toxicity to animals who might eat the plant.
Add Some Beautiful Aroma to Your Garden by Growing these 9 Shrubs That Smell Nice
Flowering shrubs that smell nice will enhance the sensory experience of your garden.
Smelling beautiful flowers is incredibly uplifting and a pleasing reward for your efforts in cultivating and maintaining your garden.
You will find that some of these shrubs produce aromatic leaves and stems that can be used in cooking too.
Here are some great shrubs to introduce to your garden.
1. Daphne Odora
Also Known As: Aureomarginata, Daphne
Daphne Odora is an evergreen shrub that is native to China and the Far East.
It is known for its beautiful inflorescence and delightful scent during the late winter months.
The Daphne shrub produces clusters of pleasant pale pink flowers that are surrounded by deep green leaves which have a yellow margin.
These open in January, persist through to March and progress to produce red fruits further on in the year.
What Does Daphne Odora Smell Like?
You will enjoy the gentle, sweet and spicy scent of these pale pink flowers.
Growing Guide for Daphne Odora
Daphne loves full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. Feed this ornament shrub well by planting in soil with plenty of organic matter.
It is slow-growing so suitable for borders where its delicious scent can be appreciated. It is hardy, but might not tolerate severe frosts.
Prune Daphne Odora extremely lightly as dieback can affect it. Daphne Odora is toxic if eaten and a skin irritant.
2. Abeliophyllum Distichum
Also Known As: White forsythia
This deciduous shrub produces an abundance of light-pink star-shaped flowers that have a distinctive scent. It blooms from February through to early April.
What Does White Forsythia Smell Like?
You will learn to recognise the potent sweet honey almond scent of white forsythia.
Its green foliage is also interesting as it becomes a rich purple before it sheds it in late autumn.
It can grow on borders or be trained to cover a wall.
Growing Guide for White Forsythia
Plant white forsythia in a sunny spot with soil that is well-drained and fertile.
Prune and feed this forsythia after flowering for more dense growth and inflorescence in future seasons.
3. Lavandula Angustifolia
Also Known As: Lavender, English lavender
If you are looking for a nice smell in your garden, English lavender is a classic choice.
You will be treated annually to a profusion of small violet flowers that release an amazing aroma through summer and autumn.
Lavender attracts pollinators and can also be used in cooking as a culinary herb.
What Does Lavender Smell Like?
Lavender is known for its pungent floral smell that has a herbal element that is similar to rosemary.
Growing Guide for English Lavender
Lavender is easy to maintain. Plant in a sunny spot, water lightly and enjoy.
Once the flowers are faded, cut back the stalks.
4. Salvia Guaranitica
Also Known As: Sage
Sage is a pleasant perennial and culinary herb that has an aroma that lingers by your borders and paths.
It has vigorous annual growth and thrives in full sun.
Sage produces deep blue-purple flowers with black calyces from August to October.
What Does Sage Smell Like?
Sage has a rich minty herbal smell. It is slightly different to the dried sage used in cooking
Growing Guide for Sage
To promote longevity of this shrub, you will need to protect it through the winter.
It will appreciate a decent mulch in late autumn, that will keep its roots warm through winter.
Flowering can be prolonged by removing flower spikes as they fade.
5. Salvia Rosmarinus
Also Known As: Rosemary
Rosemary is a great addition for a garden that is rich in herbal fragrance.
This attractive evergreen shrub that can make a home for itself in any garden.
Its blue-purple flowers in May through June are a great contrast to its needle-like leaves.
What Does Rosemary Smell Like?
Rosemary has a strong, almost menthol-like herbal smell. It is often chosen as an accompaniment to meat.
Growing Guide for Rosemary
Rosemary thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It will need annual pruning.
6. Melissa Officinalis
Also Known As: Lemon balm, bee balm
Lemon balm has a delicious lemony scent that not only attracts bees to your garden but also flavours hot beverages and cuisine.
This fast-growing shrub produces fresh green growth in the spring followed by pale-yellow flower spikes.
It is akin to mint in its vigour and willingness to spread, so limit its growth to a container.
What Does Lemon Balm Smell Like?
Its lemony-mint fragrance will definitely refresh you as you walk by this shrub.
Growing Guide for Lemon Balm
You can plant lemon balm in full sun or partial shade.
It is fully hardy and self-seeding, so it is best to control it by pruning straight after it flowers.
7. Jasminum Officinale
Also Known As: Jasmine, common white jasmine
Jasmine is a favourite of gardeners who want to fill their grounds with fragrance.
This sweet plant is known for its clusters of white, beautifully scented flowers that have a gorgeous perfume.
The flowering period for Jasmine is from June to August meaning you can enjoy the captivating fragrance all summer long.
This plant can be deciduous or evergreen and a vigorous grower, so be prepared to control its climbing and spread.
What Does Jasmine Smell Like?
Jasmine has a sweet floral scent that can be very strong when it is in full bloom.
Growing Guide for Jasmine
Jasmine loves the sun and fertile, well-drained soils.
To control its growth prune jasmine hard after its flowering period. It will also benefit from winter protection.
8. Lonicera × Purpusii
Also Known As: Winter beauty, winter honeysuckle
The beauty and fragrance of this semi-evergreen shrub will be very welcome in the cold dark winter months.
The green foliage is otherwise rather mundane.
You will definitely want to share this pleasant aroma with neighbours or passers-by, planting your winter honeysuckle near paths, doors or fences.
What Does Winter Honeysuckle Smell Like?
As the name shows it has a pungent honey-citrus fragrance that has spicy notes.
Growing Guide for Winter Honeysuckle
This hardy shrub will need all the sunlight it can get and rich, well-drained soil.
Tackle pruning once you have enjoyed its fragrant floral display.
Also Known As: Carolina allspice, spice bush, eastern sweetshrub
Carolina allspice is a shrub that produces large fragrant purple flowers that are related to magnolias.
The visual display Calycanthus puts on is only matched by the delightful fragrance you can enjoy throughout its flowering period between May and September.
The leaves even release aroma if crushed and the bark is edible as a cinnamon substitute.
What Does Carolina Allspice Smell Like?
Carolina allspice has a sweet spicy and fruity smell reminiscent of pumpkin spice or apple pie.
Growing Guide for Carolina Allspice
This fragrant shrub really needs its warmth, but it appreciates shade.
Plant it in a sheltered and shaded position will well-drained soil and protect it in cold weather.
You should prune Calycanthus in late winter.
This is a great selection of beautifully scented shrubs that will enliven any garden setting.
Choose fragrances that you will enjoy as some of these floral scents can become very strong.
Experiment with the location of these shrubs, or perhaps create a health-focused physic garden to get the maximum sensory impact from these delightful shrubs.