The Most Fragrant Plants For Southern Gardens

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Brent Wilson reviews some of the most fragrant plants for planting in southern gardens
by Brent Wilson · All Zones · Shrubs · 0 Comments · February 21, 2012 · 31,075 views

Fragrant Plants For Southern Gardens

You can enhance your southern garden's sensory appeal by planting shrubs, trees and other plants that produce fragrant flowers or foliage. There are hundreds of species and varieties of fragrant plants so you can have fragrance in your garden almost year round. Some you have to get close to to catch their fragrance while others are more aromatic; filling the garden with their fragrance. I selected the plants below based on the plants that are most aromatic, and the one's that are readily available. Plant these fragrant wonders near decks, patios, porches, windows, doors, in courtyards and other outdoor living spaces where their fragrances can be enjoyed.

Click on the "see more details" links to see if the plant grows in your USDA Hardiness Zone


Fragrant Tea Olive - Osmanthus fragrans
This wonderful evergreen shrub or small tree blooms in both spring and fall, when temperatures aren't too cold and aren't too hot. This means it can be in bloom for 4 months or more during the year. The clusters of tiny white blooms are somewhat inconspicuous, but they sure pack a fragrant punch. This isn't a flower you have to bury your nose in to smell. One Tea Olive plant can fill an entire front or back yard with fragrance. The fragrance is hard to describe. No other plants I can think of smell like this. Some describe it as a rose scent, others as gardenia and still others as jasmine, but none of these really describe it well. I'd say it smells more like a lemony, sweet perfume. In the end, the smell is all in the nose of the beholder. Tea Olive can be grown as either a large shrub or "limbed up" as a small tree to 12 feet or so in height with a 6 to 8 foot width. Plant this fragrant wonder near decks, patios, porches, swimming pools and other outdoor living areas. It makes a very nice evergreen hedge or screen. As a tree or shrub, it is excellent for use as a corner plant for homes or other structures. see more details, photos and care tips


Orange Tea Olive - Osmanthus auranticus
This unusual variety produces orange flowers instead of the typical white flowers. In my garden, the Orange Tea Olive blooms during the fall; September into October. Unlike the white flowering Tea Olive, which has inconspicuous flowers, the bright orange flowers of the Orange Tea Olive are much more visible and showy. In the fall, one shrub will fill the backyard with a powerful and exquisite scent of perfume. This variety forms a large evergreen shrub or small tree. It can grow to 20 feet tall however is usually seen at 8 to 12 feet tall in landscapes. Plant near windows and outdoor living areas where the fragrance can be enjoyed. Easy to grow in most any well-drained soil, in sun to partial shade. see more details, photos and care tips


Gardenia - Gardenia jasminoides
Gardenia plants have been long-time favorites in the southern gardens, where they love the warmer weather. Those of you who live further north might be excited to know that gardenias can be grown indoors year-round. Gardenias have shiny, dark-green green leaves and showy, double or single white blooms that produce a heavenly, sweet aroma in the garden. There are many varieties of gardenia available on the market today. Some, such as 'August Beauty' Gardenia, grow into larger, taller shrubs that can be planted at the corners of your home, decks or porches. Others, such as 'Daisy' Gardenia, 'Jubilation' Gardenia, and the Creeping Gardenia are more compact, mounding forms useful in smaller garden spaces. Perhaps the most cold hardy variety is the 'Frost Proof' Gardenia, which is reliably hardy as far north as Zone 7a. One important thing you need to know about gardenias is that they prefer a very acid soil with a pH ranging from 4.5 to 6. If soil is too alkaline the foliage will be lighter green and the plant won't produce as many flowers, if any. see varieties of gardenias


Winter Daphne - Daphne odora
With it's dense attractive form, its shiny foliage, the intoxicating scent of its flowers, and its winter flowering time, Winter Daphne is a superstar of an evergreen flowering shrub. When it begins to bloom in late winter it heralds - with its intoxicating perfume - the promise of spring. The highly fragrant blooms are crystalline white inside and deep purplish-pink outside - a few have solid white blooms. Depending on the weather and zone, Winter Daphne usually bloom from sometime in January through March, when not mulch else is blooming in the garden. The plant is a small, evergreen mounding shrub, reaching about 4 feet in height with an equal spread. The attractive foliage is glossy green and some have variegated leaves with golden edges. The foliage almost makes it look like a houseplant but it is very hardy grown outdoors in zones 7a to 9b. Winter Daphne is best located in the landscape near windows or near decks, patios, porches and other outdoor living areas where the fragrance can be enjoyed. see more details, photos, and care tips


Where to buy?

There's nothing more frustrating than discovering new plants we like without having a source for where we can find them. Most of the fragrant plants I listed above and on the next page can be found at your local nursery and garden center, or you can buy fragrant plants online here.




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