Fragrant Plants

fragrant plants purple heliotrope florida

Scent is one of the most powerful human senses. It’s amazing how quickly memories can flood your mind when presented with a familiar, pleasant scent. Filling your garden with lovely fragrant flowers will not only create a serenely beautiful atmosphere, but it will also reinforce all the amazing memories you create at home. When kids grow up with a yard full of aromatic gardenias, long after they’ve grown up and moved out, the scent of gardenias will transport them back to those happy afternoons playing in the sun. If you’re looking to plant some sweet-scented plants in your yard, take a look at these most fragrant flowers for Florida gardeners.

Fragrant Fall/Winter Annuals


Dianthus come in a variety of colors, but their scalloped edges give them their characteristic fringed look. When in bloom, dianthus smell sweet with some varieties taking on a somewhat spicy note. They prefer full sun to part shade and have a low tolerance for wet soils. Rich soils with excellent drainage suit them best.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia)

Sweet alyssum gets its name from their signature fragrance. These short plants add cheer to borders and containers with their clusters of pastel flowers. Sweet alyssum is very drought tolerant and can manage in many soil types, but they can be prone to certain types of leaf blight in environments with too much shade and moisture.


This purple Peruvian flower thrives in bright, direct sunlight. Its blossoms aren’t just pleasing to the eye— they smell good enough to eat! (Don’t actually eat them though, you’ll get an upset stomach.) Their smell is reminiscent of cherries, vanilla and almond, earning them their nickname “cherry pie flower.”

fragrant plants rangoon creeper

Fragrant Vines

Rangoon Creeper

The blooms of this showy vine have just as much of a reputation as its fragrance. The flowers start out white at first bloom and gradually mature to a deep red. Rangoon Creeper appreciates full sun in the morning with some shade later in the day, but more importantly, they need room to climb. Sometimes reaching 40 feet or more, the vine looks fabulous on a tall trellis or arbor. Rangoon Creeper prefers rich, well-drained soil with balanced acidity.


Commonly featured in bridal bouquets, the trumpet-shaped white flowers of the stephanotis are famously fragrant. They thrive in well-drained humus soils with full sun to partial shade and appreciate a monthly dose of balanced fertilizer. Allow stephanotis to climb up trellises and shade structures to get the full effect.

Indian Jasmine

This star-spangled vining plant is absolutely dreamy, especially when it arches over doorways and windows. Their delicate white blossoms smell strongest in the evening, so keep the window open in your bedroom at night and you’ll be lulled to sleep by the calming scent of these fragrant flowers.

fragrant plants gardenia jasminoides

Fragrant Perennials & Shrubs

Gardenia Jasminoids

These stunning ivory blossoms have an absolutely intoxicating aroma that’s often used in fine perfumes. They grow on evergreen shrubs that are perfect for lining patio borders and fences, and they smell particularly amazing after heavy rainfall. It’s important to note that non-grafted varieties can be quite susceptible to nematodes and are best planted in containers. The grafted varieties, however, should have no problem in your garden beds, though!

Tropical Gardenias

Some of the tropical gardenia varieties are known for having the most gorgeous aromas. Tahitian gardenias have leathery petals similar to magnolias and prefer full sun to part shade. They will tolerate soils on the alkaline side and should be fertilized quarterly with palm fertilizer. Vietnamese gardenias can be a little more challenging to keep happy. They are more prone to nematodes, need evenly moist acidic soils, and can be prone to leaf yellowing in environments without sufficient iron in the soil. When properly cared for, both gardenia varieties produce intoxicating aromas and charming blooms.

Crinium Lily

The pleasant aroma and giant clumping growth habit of this lily add a lot of attitude to the landscape. Crinum blooms are visually interesting flowers with tassel-like petals, which creates a dramatic backdrop or focal point in any garden design. This perennial prefers a spot in the sun and tolerates average, well-drained soil. Crinum lily also likes a monthly dose of balanced fertilizer.

Night-Blooming Jasmine

Despite their name, night blooming jasmine is not a true jasmine species but they smell just as sweet. Their potent perfume, released only in the evening, is reason enough to enjoy a nightcap on the patio. These tropical evergreen shrubs do best in full sun with manure-enriched soil. They require fertilization three times per year.

fragrant plants duranta

Golden Dewdrop (Duranta)

These magnificent shrubs often display their gorgeous purple flowers and golden yellow berries at the same time. They look great in containers or as space fillers in front or back yards, but they require breathing room from other plants due to their size. The shrubs are moderately salt tolerant and prefer fertilizing three times per year. Special care should be taken while pruning, as the leaves can irritate the skin.

Sweet Almond (Aloysia)

This almond-scented shrub produces clusters of attractive spiked flowers when in bloom. Sweet Almond is a great addition for gardeners looking to attract more butterflies. The shrub is vigorous and tolerates drought well, and requires very little irrigation once established. Prune Sweet Almond between bloom cycles to keep them from getting leggy.


You’re probably already aware of henna’s reputation as a natural dye, but they’re also known for their highly fragrant flowers. Henna is very tolerant of different soil types and has no trouble with our South Florida heat. However, as a native plant to climates prone to monsoons, henna should be watered deeply occasionally and then left to dry for long periods in between.


Easily the most iconic of all scented flowers, the countless color varieties of roses are undeniably beautiful. Keep in mind, these different varieties often boast different scents as well, and some don’t smell very much at all, so if you’re planting for scent, double-check that the variety you’re getting has an aroma that you enjoy. Some smell tangy and citrusy, whereas others smell more like traditional floral perfumes.

The natural scents of fragrant flowers are absolutely incomparable. When you add aromatic plants into your backyard landscape, the ambience becomes that much more lovely. Snip off a few sprigs to pop in a vase for the house, and you can enjoy the sweet perfume of your new plants throughout your home.

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