The 10 best fragrant flowers for garden & balcony


I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real country kid. At home, I love tending my small vegetable garden and spending time out in nature. When not outdoors, I love to write. Beyond gardening and writing, however, I am particularly passionate about wildlife.

Favourite fruit: currants and raspberries
Favourite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes

Are you fed up with dull plants that don’t even have a pleasant scent? These 10 fragrant flowers have the best scents that will not disappoint even the finest of noses!

fragrant plants
Let the scent of flowers enchant you [Photo: Thananun Leungchaiya/]

Just thinking of nature and flowers is generally sure to evoke the scent of a meadow. What would flowers be without their lovely scent? We think everybody will agree that the pleasant smell of flowers is just as much a part of a garden as the bright coloured leaves and blossoms. You might wonder which flower has the best or the most exotic scent. The following fragrant flowers are bound to transform your garden into a paradise for your nose, regardless if you are looking for a tropical plant to spice up you garden, an inconspicuous plant to surprise you, a new variety or a tried and true scented classic.

1. Frangipani

Fancy a bit of a tropical flair in your garden? No problem! The frangipani (Plumeria) is a gorgeous exotic flower that will enliven your garden in more than just one way. This plant blooms during the summer months and exudes a wonderful fragrance. No wonder, then, that they not only decorate numerous parks but also many monuments and temples in their native tropical home. The fragrance of frangipani is universally beloved to such an extent that it is now added to numerous perfumes and other cosmetic products. In winter months, the frangipani blends in with the other plants as it loses its leaves and looks like an ordinary deciduous tree. If properly treated, the frangipani can be grown and thrive well in temperate climates. The exotic needs one thing above all else: warmth. This is why it is a good idea to plant the fragrant flowers in a pot, especially in colder areas, so that it can be brought indoors for the winter when the first cold sets in. Other than that, nothing stands in a way of you converting your garden into a lush tropical paradise.

nice smelling plants
Frangipani will bring an exotic feel to your home [Photo: DFabri/]

2. Freesia

Freesia (Freesia) has several perks. First, it has a subtle sweet scent and, second, it is stunning to look at especially when in bloom. The charming flowers of the freesia appear in a whole palette of colour variations and flower shapes. They came to Europe from South Africa already a hundred years ago and immediately became popular houseplants, which is why they still evoke a certain nostalgia in many people today. In recent years, countless outdoor cultivars have been developed that are able to cope with European winters. So, even gardeners living in temperate climates can enjoy the fruity scent of freesia in their garden.

scented plants for pots
Freesia have a wonderful scent as well as beautiful flowers [Photo: New Africa/]

3. Rose

When reading the title of this article, your first thought might have been roses. The rose (Rosa) is a classic among the fragrant flowers. After all, given the name queen of flowers is not without reason. Because the rose has been a favourite garden flower for such a long time, there are many different varieties and countless variations in colour, shape and even in how often they flower. But beware: there are also plenty of varieties of non-scented roses. So if you want to buy a rose to pamper your nose, double-check that you are purchasing a fragrant variety up front. Old and traditional varieties of roses and specially bred fragrant roses tend to have a more intense scent than garden roses. With the right care roses are a charming addition to any garden.

nice smelling flower
Roses have been and will remain and all-time classic [Photo: KOOKOO/]

4. Sweet pea

Another delightfully scented favourite of gardeners is the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). As the name suggests, the fragrance of this plant is on the sweet side. The sweet pea belongs to the family of legumes, which means it is actually related to peas. In fact, when not in bloom, the sweet pea can be easily mistaken for any other pea plant. Once this climbing plant forms its flowers and lavishly displays them in full splendour, there won’t be any doubts left of why it is one of the most popular climbing plants in the garden. Unlike its edible relatives, though, the seeds of the sweet pea are slightly toxic. Blooming period is from June to September and during this time it enriches the garden with an enticing honey-sweet scent.

fragrant climbing plants
The flowers of sweet pea look similar to the regular pea plant flowers [Foto: vincent noel/]

5. Marvel of Peru

The marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa) looks rather unimpressive for most of the day. The flowers are closed during the majority of the day and it is easy to not even notice this plant. However, as the plant’s name suggests, there are hidden wonders inside. Although the marvellous flowers hide from daylight, at night they show their full beauty. From dusk until late in the morning, the plant blooms in all its grandeur and exudes an intense scent. The aroma of the marvel of Peru is just as appealing as its appearance. When the flowers expand at night, you can see the beautiful yellow, red or orange flowers. What makes this plant a true botanical sensation is that each flower can have up to three different shades. The marvel of Peru will even thrive in gardens in temperate climate but it is not hardy. Therefore, we recommend digging up the marvel of Peru and repotting it to bring it indoors for winter. All in all, this plant is a must for night owls who want to enrich their warm summer nights with a delightful flower scent.

best smelling plants for indoors
No matter how unimpressive this plant looks at daytime marvel of Peru will come out with all its beauty at night [Photo: haris M/]

6. Chocolate cosmos

Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, the chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) is the perfect plant for you. Although this plant is not a suitable dessert, it is not undeserving of its name. Chocolate cosmos is one of the most unique plants as far as scent. In warm summer weather, it exudes a fragrance reminiscent of dark chocolate that will make the heart of every chocolate lover beat faster. The chocolate fragrance also matches the plant’s outer appearance. It has dark red flowers that complement the chocolatey smell. The fragrant flowers are native to Mexico and therefore prefer warm locations fully exposed to the sun. As it does not tolerate winter relocation to winter quarters for the cold season is necessary. Apart from that, cultivating chocolate cosmos in European gardens is effortless and a great alternative to those who would like to take a break from the typical flower smell.

heavily scented plants
On warm summer days chocolate cosmos will exude a scent reminiscent of dark chocolate [Foto: flowermedia/]

7. Jasmine

The scent of jasmine (Jasminum) is well known to everybody and lauded by tea makers and perfumers alike. The essence of jasmine is used in a vast spectrum of applications ranging from Chinese jasmine tea to cosmetics. Although the smell of jasmine is one of the best features of this plant, do not underestimate its beauty. Jasmine is a deciduous or evergreen plant that blooms in a multitude of delicate flowers often for several months at a time. There are many varieties of jasmine, some of which thrive well in colder regions. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) even blooms in winter and early spring (December to April) and brightens up winter with the magic of its flowers, even if it does not smell quite as intense as its warmth-loving brother, the Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac), for example. Arabian jasmine flourishes mainly as a houseplant where it will delight your nose with its distinct sweet scent.

strong smelling plants
Jasmine does not only have beautiful flowers its scent is also remarkable [Photo: Donie Soon/]

8. Lily

The lily (Lilium) is also a true classic among scented plants. It is grown in traditional farmer’s gardens as well as in modern city parks. There seems to be no limit to the form and colour of lilies, it comes in variations of diverse colour combinations ranging from spotted and striped to completely monochrome. The most intensely scented lily is probably the Stargazer lily, a hybrid Oriental lily, which is often grown as a houseplant. Its smell is described as slightly spicy and, although some may find the intense fragrance overwhelming, it has lovers worldwide including (unsurprisingly) many perfumers. In the garden, however, it is recommended to use more robust lily varieties that have a less intense yet pleasant scent.

strong smelling flowers
Another classic among scented flowers are lilies [Foto: Berilova Irida/]

9. Lily of the valley

The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) looks rather modest in its natural habitat on the edges of forests in spring. The bell shaped flowers exude a lovely sweet scent and have a nostalgic association for many (hands up if you ever gave your mother a bouquet of lily of the valley on Mother’s day as a child). For all these reasons, lily of the valley is a common garden plant. Caution is advised though. Lily of the valley are protected by law and it is forbidden to pick or repot them. If you would like to experience the fragrance and beauty of these little flowers in your own garden, visit your local garden centre and not the nearest forest. Usually either seeds or partially grown young plants are available for purchase in well stocked garden centres. That way, you will avoid needless hassle with the forester or the police.

scented plants for shade
Lily of the valley are modest in their look but all the more intense when it comes to scent [Photo: Jacopo ventura/]

10. Gardenia

The gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) is the number one on our list and not without reason: it is gorgeously fragrant and beautiful to look at! It is often compared to jasmine and rose. Although it is unrelated to either of these plants, gardenia is a perfect mix of jasmine’s scent and the glamour of the rose. In the past, gardenias were often beloved indoor plants. Today the gardenia is frequently regarded as old-fashioned but many are beginning to appreciate the classic charm of this plant. In recent years, the evergreen gardenia has gained popularity again, often used for wedding bouquets and decorative flower arrangements. In addition to that, gardenia is perfectly suited to be grown indoors or in pots because it does not handle frost well. Therefore, it is advised to cultivate gardenia in the pot. It will enchant you with its grace and fragrance in the garden for summer and then indoors in winter.

best smelling flowers
Gardenia is queen of scented flowers [Photo: Del Boy/]

Tip: To ensure strong and hardy plants that bear rich flowers, it is best to plant your fragrant plants in high-quality potting soil such as Plantura Organic Flower Compost. It is completely peat-free and perfectly suited to the needs of flowering plants.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition