planting perennials

Fragrant Combinations

We have selected some of our favorite fragrant plants that are readily available putting them together to create beds with year-round interest. We have also tried to show small vignettes for tiny areas.

In all the following combinations, specific plants can be replaced in order to tailor the design to your needs. Keep in mind that a substituted plant should want similar cultural conditions. All plants are subject to seasonal availability. We have tried to choose plants we commonly carry. Please ask for assistance if needed.

You can download all the planting recipes for reference here: Fragrant Combinations pdf.

planting fragrant perennials

Lemon Bells

This combination can fit in a 20-24” container. These plants need full sun.

Lemon Verbena A tender herb reaching 1-3’. Sweet lemon smelling foliage used in teas.

Brugmansia, Angel’s Trumpet Tropical shrub with 1-2’ fragrant, pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers in white, yellow, or pink. Fertilize weekly.

Hermannia verticillata, Honeybells An annual with soft, feathery foliage and tiny, yellow, fragrant flowers through summer.

Berlandiera lyrata, Chocolate Flower Yellow daisy like flowers with a green center and a fragrance of chocolate. Perennial. Silvery basal leaves.

Tips for Establishing New Plantings

Soil Preparation:

We recommend adding compost to the planting area to improve drainage and fertility. Mix in the compost at a ratio of 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil. If your soil is heavy clay you may also want to add pumice.

When to Plant:

Best planting times are midspring to early summer, and early fall. Mid-summer planting should be done in the cool parts of the day with ample water. Be aware of soil moisture to avoid compaction if planting late fall into winter.


New plants need regular water for the first two seasons to become established. In summer, water plants once a week, slowly, for an hour. Containers may need to be watered every other day depending on size and location. Frequency may be altered as the season changes.


Use an all purpose fertilizer of your choice applied in spring. Follow directions on the package for application rates. New transplants can be watered in with fish emulsion and/or kelp to alleviate shock. Regular applications of specific bloom fertilizers help keep annuals flowering all season.


We recommend mulching one or two times a year (spring and fall) with a fine compost. Mulching helps conserve water, improves soil texture and fertility, and insulates roots. Spring mulch can also be mixed with a granular all purpose fertilizer.

More Favorite Fragrant Plants

  • Actea racemosa, Bugbane
  • Chimonanthus praecox, Winter Sweet
  • Choisya ternata, Mexican Orange
  • Clematis a. ‘Snowdrift’, Evergreen Clematis
  • Clematis max, Sweet Autumn Clematis
  • Clethra sp., Summer Sweet
  • Dianthus sp.
  • Edgeworthia chrysantha, Chinese Paper Bush
  • Elaeagnus sp.
  • Hamamelis sp., Witch hazel
  • Hepaticodium miconoides
  • Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia
  • Michellia maudiae (Magnolia maudiae)
  • Nicotiana sylvestris, Flowering tobacco
  • Osmanthus sp.
  • Philadelphus sp., Mock Orange
  • Phlox stolonifera, Phlox paniculata
  • Sweet Peas
  • Syringa vulgaris, Lilac
  • Viburnum carlesii, Korean Spice Bush
  • Tiarella sp., Foam Flower

planting fragrant perennials

Summer Scents

This fits in a 5’ x 5' bed with at least six hours of direct sun.

Daphne ‘Summer Ice’­ Small pale pink flowers that bloom Spring through Fall. Has a light sweet scent. This shrub grows 4’ tall/wide, and needs good drainage.

Jasmine officinale­ The classic jasmine. Small leaves and white trumpet flowers spring through early summer. It can reach 10­-15’ tall.

Stargazer Lily­ Large extremely fragrant flowers. Usually sold in the bulbs in Fall and spring. Each bulb produces 3-­5+ pink and white flowers on a 4’ stem.

Dianthus­ These small flowers have a wonderful clove like fragrance. For this design we suggest the smaller cultivars (15-­30” tall) that are bicolor or pink.

planting fragrant perennials

Warm & Spicy

A larger combination that can fit in a space 10­-15’ square and 15’ tall. It thrives in a south or west facing area with full sun.

Clerodendron trichotum­, Harlequin Glory bower A small tree with leaves that smell like peanut butter. In late summer, fragrant white flowers turn to turquoise berries. Reaches 15’ tall and wide

Rose ‘Fragrant Cloud’­ Large, double, coral-red flowers with a rich old rose scent. Grows 3-4’ tall and wide.

Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’­, Daylily A repeat bloomer with fragrant, lemon-yellow flowers. 40” tall and wide.

Chocolate cosmos Deep mahogany flowers that really smell like chocolate! Grows 1­-2’ wide and tall.

planting fragrant perennials

Shady Scents

An ideal location is a 10’ wide and 5’ deep area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.

Mahonia bealei­, Leather leaf Mahonia Sweet yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. Blue­green, spiky, evergreen leaves. Reaches 6’+ tall.

Daphne odora marginata­ Winter Daphne Intoxicating clusters of white/pink flowers in late winter to early spring. Evergreen. Good drainage is critical. Grows to 4-­5’ tall and wide.

Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ ­Apple-green leaves with a yellow edge. Large fragrant, white flowers in summer. Grows 20­-22” tall and wide.

Viola odora­, Violet Tiny, lavender-blue, fragrant flowers and heart-shaped leaves. Small plant to 3” tall.

planting fragrant perennials

Silver Tones

The following combination can fit in a 16 to 20” container or in a small place in the ground. These plants need full sun, and winter protection.

Cupressus macnabiana­ A tender conifer native to dry California. Resin glands emit a tangy fragrance.

Salvia discolor­ A tender sage with olive-green and silver leaves that are highly fragrant when rubbed. Iridescent black flowers in summer.

Scented geranium­ Many to choose from with fragrances ranging from rose to lemon. Fun foliage shapes and colors can spruce up this arrangement.

Aquilegia ‘Chocolate Solider’­ Spring blooms are velvety-brown and green with a soft, sweet fragrance. Blue green basal leaves. Perennial 1 1⁄2 - ­2’.