Perfumed Garden Design: How To Grow A Perfumed Garden

Gardener Smelling Yellow Perfumed Flowers
(Image credit: Maryviolet)

When we plan our gardens, appearance usually takes a front seat. We choose the flowers that are most pleasing to the eye, matching up the colors that go together the best. There’s another, often untapped, thing to consider though: scent. Smell is a very powerful sense. It can trigger memory and feeling like nothing else. The plant world is capable of some truly remarkable scents, so why not plan your next garden around them by creating a perfume garden? Keep reading to learn more about how to grow a perfumed garden and how to pick the best fragrant garden plants.

How to Grow a Perfumed Garden

There’s a wide variety of plants for fragrant gardens. While it might be tempting to load your perfumed garden design up with these plants, keep in mind that scent can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if a lot of strong fragrances are competing in a small space. You don’t want your garden to smell like a candle store. Instead, intersperse your fragrant garden plants with scentless plants that complement their appearance. Spread your scented plants out so each one gets its own spotlight. It’s also possible to spread fragrances out not by space but by time. For instance, lilacs have a strong, distinctive scent but only in late spring. You can plant your lilac bush next to something that blooms in midsummer or fall with no conflict.

Fragrant Garden Plants

When creating a perfume garden, the most obvious plants for fragrant gardens would be flowers. Great choices might include:

Some flowers bloom and give off their fragrance at night, making them a good choice near windows that are likely to be kept open on warm summer nights. Some good examples of these perfume-scented plants are stocks and nicotiana. Most herbs have wonderfully fragrant foliage. Try the following additions in a perfumed garden design:

Plant them where they can be brushed by passing foot traffic to help release their scent. There are a myriad of other fragrant plants that can work as well. Just follow your nose and choose the ones that not only smell good to you but are hardy in your area.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.