I love having great smelling shrubs and plants in my garden, especially near the entrance way to my home. Some of the best smelling flowers that you will find in nature grow on shrubs. With that being said, I decided to create a list of 10 of the most fragrant shrubs that I could find for others who love to garden that feel the same way.

In this gallery, we are going to look at a lot of different variations, so you are sure to find one that fits your personality and the other plants that you have growing in your garden.

1) Gardenia

This is a beautiful bush that has a large, white flower that smells quite exquisite. They grow best in full sun, but they can also grow in light shade as well. You will need to have moist, well-drained soil for the shrub to thrive. If the soil is too soggy, the buds will not open. They prefer acidic soil and high humidity. These plants like warmer temperatures, so ideally, the temperature should be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. They tend to grow best in zones seven through 10.

2) Star Jasmine

This large bush will create small star-shaped flowers that are white. They are great for training to grow along a garden wall or on a trellis in your garden. With the right support, this is a plant that can reach 30 feet tall, but it can remain as a ground cover if you prefer. It will do well in full sun; however, in extremely hot locations, it may need to be shaded during the warmest part of the day. It will grow best in soil that drains well, and it will grow in hardiness zones seven through 10.

3) Viburnum

The viburnum is a shrub that is native to North America. It creates lovely vibrant flowers in the spring of the year, and the flowers, which smell delightful, can be white, cream, or pink. The flowers grow in clusters that look very similar to hydrangea flower with lace on top of them. They grow best in well-drained soil and partial shade, but they can tolerate full sun as well. This is a species that does not mind a little cold, so it can grow in zones four through eight.

4) Daphne Pink

This is a rounded shrub that can grow to be about three to five feet tall. The flowers grow in clusters that range in color from white to pink. They are quite fragrant to have in your garden, and they prefer slightly acidic soil that is well-drained and moist. This is a shrub that can grow in partial sun or partial shade, and they grow best in hardiness zones four through nine. This is a poisonous plant though, so if you have pets, be careful where you plant it.

5) Sensation Lilac

All lilac smell amazing, but this one is one of my favorite because it has such a strong floral scent. The blooms are deep purple, and the plant can easily grow to be about 20 feet high. It can grow in partial shade and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. The flower does not need to be pruned a lot, but cutting the stem when the flower is done blooming will help it produce more blooms. In general, these shrubs will thrive in zones four through seven.

6) Gertrude Jekyll’ Rose

This is a lovely English Rose bush that produces beautiful double blooms that have a very fragrant smell. They tend to grow best in zones four through eight, and they can be trained to climb if you want them to. When this plant is trained to grow a certain way, it can grow to be eight to 10 feet long. It prefers to grow in full to partial sun, and it will grow best in a sandy, clay-like soil that is well-drained. In addition, the scent that this shrub creates will attract butterflies to your garden.

7) Summersweet Clethra

This is a lovely shrub that will grow to be between five and eight feet tall. It has lovely white clusters of flowers that bloom the spring of each year, but they can also be pink on some plants. They will grow best in zones four through nine, and this shrub will look great as a border on the edge of your garden. It will grow best with six hours of sunlight each day. It will also thrive in well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Also, the sweet smell of the blooms is great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your outdoor space.

8) Purple-Leaf Sandcherry

This is a beautiful shrub that is quite colorful, which can add a lot to your outdoor garden. It actually has purple foliage that is unique for most plants. It can grow to be up to 10 feet tall as well as wide, so it can take up a lot of space. It can easily grow in zones two through eight, and it should be grown in full sun because too much shade will make the leaves turn to a bronze-green coloration. The flowers are white or light pink, and they will begin to appear during April.

9) Angel’s Trumpet

This is a tropical plant that smells delightful. The flowers are shaped like a trumpet that dangles from the shrub, and they also produce a strong smell that is even more fragrant at night. This is a toxic plant that should not even be touched without gloves, so it is crucial that you are aware of this if you have small children around. A mature plant can grow to be up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It prefers to grow in full sun in zones nine through 11.

10) Abelia Chinensis

This is an aromatic plant that is perfect for attracting butterflies to your garden. It creates pink, white, or cream blooms in the early summer of the year, and when it matures, the shrub can grow to be up to eight feet high. It grows best in well-drained soil and full sun. This is a plant that makes lovely cut flowers as well, so if you are searching your garden to make a bouquet, this is a great option. It grows best in zones seven through nine.

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6 of the Most Fragrant Trees and Shrubs in Spring

  1. Night Blooming Jasmine
    This is woody evergreen shrub is not known for its beauty, but it’s amazing fragrance. The Night Blooming Jasmine is related to nightshade. This scrub will grow between 4 and 13 feet tall. It yields simple glossy, lance-shaped green leaves and long vine like stems. When the weather is warm the Night-blooming Jasmine will bloom and the narrow greenish-white blossoms will open, but only at night. While these plants are pretty easy to care for in warm climates, they will need additional care in cold environments.
  2. Miami Supreme Gardenia
    The Miami Supreme Gardenia plant will be sure to top off your home garden as it is pleasing to both the eye and the nose. The name even means “best.” It has large white flowers and gives off one of the sweetest fragrances that you might have ever smelled.
  3. Sweet Almond
    The Sweet Almond bush will produce such powerful smelling blooms that you will be able to notice that incredible scent from way across the other side of your yard. This is a warm weather loving plant that has a long bloom season. This plant will also attract beautiful butterflies to your garden all summer long. It will produce spires of white flowers and bloom from summer into fall. The plant will die back to the roots and sprout again in the spring. The plant can be planted in the ground and pruned or even in a container.
  4. Winter Daphne
    The Winter Daphne plant will produce early flowers with a powerful sweet fragrance. The flowers are beautiful with rose to purple in color. It will grow between 3 and 4 feet in height and 4 to 5 feet wide. It is a low maintainers plant which makes is a great option for your home garden.
  5. Banana Shrub
    This evergreen shrub produces amazing yellow blooms all spring and summer long that gives off a banana like fragrance. This scrub can provide privacy and give off a perfume that flowers around your entire yard. According to www.monrovia.com, the author suggests that you plant the Banana Shrub next to a window or door to all the fragrance to pour indoors.
  6. Royal Empress Trees
    Looking for a tree to have it all? Then this one is the right one for you. This tree is beautiful all year long, provides privacy, and grows incredibly fast. It is known as one of the world’s fastest growing trees. Here is a little story about The Royal Empress Tree from Fast-Growing-Trees.com:”We had a spot where I wanted to block the afternoon sun and provide a little privacy between us and our neighbor. I planted our Royal Empress Tree late in the season, so I knew it wouldn’t grow much before going dormant. Still, it reached about 6 feet.”

    The story goes on to explain that the author’s father-in-law wasn’t impressed. He suggested cutting it down and said, “you’ll really see a show.”

    The author replied stating that all the growth would be lost.

    The father-in-law objected and said that the growth would not be lost. Then, he “took a saw and cut it flat to the ground.”

    In the end, the father-in-law was right. The tree appeared to be indestructible. The author states that it was like watching Jack and the Beanstalk as it “shot out of the ground in spring and grew 15 feet that year, then reached 25 feet the next year.”

    Specifications of the Royal Empress Trees include:

    • Furry, pea shaped buds in the winter that burst open at the first sigh of spring.
    • Flowers: Large, beautiful lavender blooms in spring.
    • Climate zones: Best grown in climates zones 7-11, however, it came be grown anywhere in the United States.
    • Care: Relatively easy to care for.

On one of the somewhat rare sunny winter days here in England, I noticed a discernibly different smell in the air. What was it, I wondered as I ventured out the other day, almost blinded by the enticing light?

Drawn by a sweetness on the air, I soon realized this was not the smell of spring, but of winter-flowering shrubs luring the garden visitor with tiny flashes of unexpected color. (These shrubs all benefit from pruning in springtime, after flowering and a mulch of well-rotted leaf mold to emulate their native woodland habitats.)

As bee numbers are scarce, these shrubs provide nectar to those varieties of bees hardy enough to go foraging on a winter’s day. Without them, the trip would be an exhausting loss leader for a bee, and sometimes that isn’t a price worth paying. (It’s worth remembering that varieties with single rather than double flowers will help the bees.)

Here are seven favorite flowering shrubs to plant for winter fragrance.

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer, except where noted.

Daphne

Above: Daphne odora has small clusters of pink blossoms.

The spurge laurels—or to give them their telltale Latin name, Daphne odora—lure you on to find the source of their sweet and spicy smell. The pink and crimson flowers are just a bonus, as are the varieties of ‘Aureomarginata’ with the delicate cream edge to the evergreen leaf.

Tip: There are more than 50 varieties of daphne and all parts of the plant are toxic, including the sap.

Winter Sweet

Above: Like most of the deciduous winter flowering shrubs, winter sweet or Japan allspice (Chimonanthus praecox) flowers directly on the bare stems.

The little cream cup-shaped flowers hide a deep magenta center and tiny cream star. Originally a native of China, the fragrant flowers were used to scent linen cupboards, much in the same way we might use lavender today.

Tip: Winter-flowering shrubs will enjoy a mixture of sun or partial shade, but sun will bring the fragrance out.

Winter Honeysuckle

Above: Winter honeysuckle.

And then there are the sherbet lemons of the winter garden: Lonicera x purpusii, mahonia, and sarcococca that make your mouth twitch and water with their zingy fragrance.

Christmas Box

Above: The most respectable of these is the Christmas box (Sarcococca confusa), which behaves itself with its gracefully arching stems of neat evergreen leaves, cream flowers, and black berries—perfect to brush past in a pot by the front door.

And don’t believe the name, it goes on flowering long after Christmas is a hazy memory.

Mahonia

Above: The mahonia has to be taken in hand to behave, otherwise all its acid yellow flowers will be waving over your head, giving the birds but not you a good display. But prune carefully and you can keep the upper hand.

Once the mahonias have done their thing, summer self-seeders such as nigella or the campions (Lychnis) underneath will hide the brutal bare stems. A few panicles of the flower stems can be brought inside, but like many winter flowers they are happier outside and don’t last long in our cosseted houses.
Tip: Prune after flowering, standing back to assess the shape regularly and cutting back any gangly branches.

Winter Beauty

Above: But Lonicera fragrantissima ‘Winter Beauty’ is the most difficult. Its wayward shape is hard to control, and the cut stems wither in a day or two.

But yet again, the name says it all, the little flowers cluster like a troupe of ballerinas in frilly skirts exuding a mouthwatering fragrance.

Above: Winter Beauty is best planted along a woodland path, or where a summer plant can obscure its gangly habit.

Viburnum

Above: Evergreen flowering Viburnum tinus also makes a great hedge. Photograph byMevia Wikimedia.

Tip: Cut a stem or two every few days to lift your spirits and drink in the scent.

See our curated design guides for Shrubs 101 for more of our winter-flowering favorites, including:

  • Field Guide: Witch Hazel
  • Landscape Ideas: Blazing Color with Red Twig Dogwood, 5 Ways
  • Winter Enchantment: 9 Best Witch Hazels for a Luminous Garden
  • Camellias: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various shrubs and hedges with our Shrubs: A Field Guide.

Fragrant shrubs

There are many shrubs that contribute fragrance to the garden. Some shrubs have only fragrant flowers, while other shrubs have fragrant leaves as well as the flowers.

The suggestions provided here are a launch point. Feel free to add more to the lists, to assist other gardeners wishing to grow fragrant shrubs.

Shrubs with aromatic foliage

The following list details some shrubs that have aromatic leaves:

  • Lavender
  • Pelargonium
  • Rosemary
  • Curry plant
  • Cotton lavender
  • Wormwood
  • Cushion bush
  • Cistus
  • Vitex
  • Caryopteris

Shrubs with fragrant flowers

The following lists details some shrubs with fragrant flowers:

  • Lilac
  • Cherry pie (heliotrope)
  • Daphne
  • Gardenia
  • Viburnum
  • Wintersweet
  • Buddleia
  • Azara
  • Luculia
  • Cestrum
  • Mock orange

Designing a garden with fragrant shrubs

Consider placing the shrubs where they will release their scent in noticeable ways. For example, situating shrubs near an outdoor dining area or where people sit for relaxation. Or, having a shrub near a bedroom window for summer scents. The front entry gate can be a great place for adding a fragrant shrub, to welcome people as they enter your yard. Don’t neglect the workplace; a fragrant shrub might lift spirits as its scent wafts through open windows or greets employees at the entrance way.

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