14 most fragrant plants to grow in your garden – keep scents ‘retained’ all year-round

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There’s nothing better than the fresh fragrance of flowers and foliage on a warm day, but it can often disappear when the sunnier seasons have come and gone. Sweet peas, lavender and green herbs are some of the most strongly-scented plants grown across British gardens in summer, but few of us think about the sweet-smelling plants we can grow in the cold season too. Here’s a full list of plants to add to your garden for a fragrant scent all year round.

Plants that make your garden look bright are one thing, but sweetly scented varieties can add a new dimension to your outdoor space.

Whether you love the classic smell of roses or enjoy waves of floral lavender, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to picking the perfect plants for your space.

While scented plants will look and smell great in any garden, there are a few things to consider before planting to ensure they reach their full potential.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “Plant fragrant-flowered plants in a sheltered area where the fragrance can be retained for longer; an enclosed courtyard or walled garden is ideal.

“For smaller growing plants, plant at the front of raised beds or in containers near to the front door where their floral scent can easily be enjoyed when passing.”

What to plant for summer fragrance

Summer is when most of our time is spent in the garden, so there’s no better time to enjoy the natural fragrance of your favourite plants.


Darker-coloured roses tend to be more fragrant than white or yellow roses and will smell their best in the early hours of the morning.

Bare-root varieties should be planted in full sun during late autumn, or from late winter to early spring. Container roses can be planted all year round.


This summer flowering perennial is best planted in April or May, as the soil warms up.

It needs lots of sun to thrive and will smell best if planted along a walkway so the fragrant buds are released as you brush past the plant.

Caucasian lime tree

The Caucasian lime tree is a deciduous variety with arching branches and green young shoots bearing glossy deep green leaves.

The fragrant cream flowers are best enjoyed in summer, just make sure to plant the tree in full sun or partial shade for a stronger scent.

Weeping silver lime tree

Similarly to the Caucasian lime tree, the weeping silver lime is best in full sun or partial shade and is loved for its clusters of “highly scented yellowish flowers”, according to the RHS.

Evergreen magnolia

Grandiflora is a large, rounded evergreen shrub or tree with glossy green leaves and highly fragrant, cup-shaped, cream flowers.

This fresh-smelling plant can be enjoyed in both summer and autumn too, just be sure to give it plenty of sun.

Scented plants for your autumn garden

For autumn fragrances, focus on autumnal tones and spiced yet fresh fragrances for a stunning garden display.

Mexican orange blossom

This busy evergreen shrub produces pure white, scented flowers which will continue into winter.

Grow this orange blossom in full sun with well-drained soil to keep the plant healthy.

Oregon grape ‘Charity’

Also known as Mahonia, these are evergreen shrubs with leathery, pinnate leaves and fragrant yellow flowers, sometimes followed by black or purple berries.

This sweetly scented plant needs full sun or a partially shaded site to grow in.

Willow-leaved jessamine

This is a semi-evergreen medium-sized shrub which is most fragrant at night.

You can plant jessamine in full sun or partial shade as long as the soil is well drained.

Nodding virgin’s bower

Formally known as clematis rehderiana, this climber offers more sweetly fragranced flowers from midsummer to early autumn.

Plant in full sun or a site with partial shade to enjoy the stunning plant in all its glory.

Scented plants for your spring garden

Spring fragrance is all about fresh, floral scents, so opt for strong-smelling flowers and bright colours to compliment your seasonal garden.

Blue wattle

This evergreen shrub needs full sun to thrive, especially if you want to make the most of the fragrant yellow flowerheads.

Winter’s bark

If you like glossy leaves and white flowers, this is the perfect plant for your spring garden.

Terminal clusters of fragrant creamy-white flowers appear in late spring or early summer and are loved for their cinnamon-like smell.


Any type of rhododendron will work well for a fragrant boost, just be sure to keep it in a space with dappled shade. Azaleas offer a strong floral fragrance, which is more fresh than sweet.

Burkwood osmanthus

The small white flowers followed by black fruits are what make this the best plant, and of course, its indulgent scent is not one to miss in spring.

Keep in full sun or partial shade for a bright display of foliage all year.

Fragrant plants for winter

Winter doesn’t have to be a dull time for your garden, in fact, there are plenty of honey and vanilla tones that will fill your outdoor space.

Winter-flowering honeysuckle

This popular shrub is loved for the cream flowers which look delicate and smell as sweet as honey.

Plant in full sun or partial shade for a boost in your winter garden.

Japanese mahonia

Another evergreen shrub for your garden is the Japanese mahonia.

The yellow flowers smell great right through the winter and produce enticing blue-black berries in spring.

This plant should be positioned in full or partial shade.

Dwarf sweet box

The RHS recommended this plant for its highly fragranced white flowers, decorated with crimson anthers.

In winter, blackberries will grow on this stunning suckering shrub, making for a sweet-smelling and enticing plant.

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