(Image credit: _LeS_)

The distinct citrus aroma of lemon isn’t restricted to the fruit; there are plenty of other lemon scented garden plants. Some lemon scented plants only smell like lemon, while others can be incorporated into food and beverages to impart a lively citrus flavor. 

Reasons for a Plant that Smells like Lemon

Not everyone can grow a lemon tree, but there are plenty of lemon smelling plants that can be grown either in the garden or in containers. Some plants that smell like lemon are edible herbs, while others are only lemon scented when a bloom is smelled or a leaf is crushed. 

Essential oils in these plants are responsible for imparting that citrusy scent; a result of chemical compounds such as d-limonene, citral, citronellal and a variety of terpenes. These chemical compounds are what our olfactory senses perceive as citrusy. 

Lemon Scented Garden Plants

When we think of plants that smell good, the first thing that often comes to mind are those that produce flowers. Within this category there are many blooming plants that smell like lemon. 

There are several hybrid tea roses that emit citrus aromas. “Barbara Streisand” is a lavender pink rose excellent for use as a cut flower with a strong citrusy/rose scent. Deep gold blooms on “Radiant Perfume” exude a pleasant lemony aroma as does “Pope John Paul II,” with large white blooms. The rose “Climbing Angel Face” also has a strong lemon fragrance. 

Other woody plants that have been described as having a lemon scent to them include winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), and some Magnolia cultivars such as “Little Gem” and “Rose Marie.” Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) has edible leaves and flowers that perfume the air. 

Additional Lemon Scent Plants

Many herbs fall into the category of lemon scented plants. These include lemon beebalm, lemon catmint, lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon mint, and lemon thyme. Harvest the leaves from these lemon scented herbs and ideally use fresh or dry for later use. 

Lemon-scented geraniums such as Pelargonium crispum, P. Citrosum, and P. Citronellum are grown more for their citrus scented leaves rather than the cute pansy-like flowers. The essential oil from these flowers is often used in the perfume industry. 

Lastly the lemon eucalyptus or lemon-scented gum tree is indigenous to Australia, as are the lemon-scented ironbark (Eucalyptus staigeriana), lemon tea tree (Leptospermum petersonii), and lemon aspen (Acronychia acidula), which can be grown as container plants in cooler regions. 

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.