Top 10 Flowers with the Best Fragrances

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Lawn & Garden

Frangipani flowers can be seen floating on water in Pattaya, Chonburi Province, Thailand. View more photos of perennial flowers.
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Our sense of smell often triggers fond memories, and garden flowers are often responsible for these pleasant recollections. Do you remember the sweet aroma of your grandmother’s untamed pale pink roses in her backyard? What about the exotic white blooms of a magnolia tree in the summer heat? Or the intoxicating fragrance of tropical flowers that surrounded you on a trip to the islands?

While flowers are admired for their beauty, shapes, and colors, some types are most cherished for their incredible scents. Some gardeners even plan their gardens to provide year-round sensory pleasures.

From the delicate scent of lily-of-the-valley to the soothing smell of jasmine and the heady aroma of wisteria, read on to discover more about the ten best smelling flowers.

10: Frangipani

Frangipani (Plumeria rubra), also known as the Hawaiian lei flower, is native to warm tropical areas of the Pacific Islands, Caribbean, South America, and Mexico. These beautiful flowers, which grow in shades of pink, red, yellow, and white, appear to have a touch of gold at the center. Frangipani has a distinctly tropical scent that becomes more intense in the evenings, making it a lovely addition to a dramatic bouquet.

Frangipani plants can grow into large shrubs or small trees, with long leathery, fleshy leaves near the ends of the branches. Although their flowers are beautiful, they contain a poisonous, milky sap that can irritate the skin. In addition, the tree’s wood can be used to make musical instruments, tableware, and furniture [source: The Flower Expert].

9: Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum blooming in Athens, GA.
Anthony Masterson/Getty Images

The scent of sweet alyssum (lobularia maritima) is as lovely as its name. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest annuals to cultivate. Seeds can be sown directly in the ground as soon as it thaws or in pots, and the plants will bloom from early spring to fall in full sun to part shade.

Alyssum is a mat-forming plant with dense clusters of tiny, sweet-smelling flowers. It requires little effort and expense, making it an excellent choice for a fragrant garden. Although it’s low to the ground, its intense scent fills the air. It also grows easily from inexpensive seed and reseeds itself [source: Ferguson].

8: Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate lovers, meet your new favorite flower! Chocolate cosmos (cosmos astrosanguineum) are known for their unique reddish-brown flowers that have a light vanilla fragrance, similar to many chocolate candies. Despite its intriguing scent, do not be tempted to eat the poisonous bloom.

Chocolate cosmos are native to Mexico and are herbaceous perennials in warmer climates and annuals in colder ones. They grow from 1 to 3 feet tall (30 to 91 centimeters) and prefer full sun to partial shade. Gardeners suggest clustering six to eight plants together to enjoy the full effect of their fragrance, which becomes stronger as the summer days heat up [source: Ferguson].

7: Wisteria

When wisteria (wisteria futescens) starts to bloom in the southern U.S., it’s a clear sign that spring has arrived. The flowers of wisteria look like grape-like clusters and are quite large, with some types growing up to 3 feet (91.4 centimeters) long. Although the petals of wisteria are purple or white in color, they fall off within a few days. Therefore, it is recommended to take a break and enjoy the beauty of this plant while it lasts. Gardeners adore the sweet fragrance of wisteria in the springtime. Wisteria is a very fast-growing vine that prefers to climb and wander, providing privacy and shade to arbors or pergolas. It can be trained horizontally on the ground or grown on a trellis as well.

6: Sweet Pea

Sweet peas (lathyrus) are famous for their fragrant flowers and have been cultivated for over 300 years. They come in a variety of colors, from red and pink to yellow and white, and some combinations of shades. The flowers of sweet peas grow on a stem that usually carries one to seven flowers, each measuring about two inches (51 millimeters) wide. Sweet peas can grow to a height of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters), but some bush varieties may not be as tall. In regions with mild winters, sweet peas can be planted in the fall, while in other areas, they should be planted in early spring. These flowers can be enjoyed from spring to summer, although they are not fond of intense summer heat. Before purchasing sweet peas, be sure to read the description because some varieties lack fragrance.

5: Lily-of-the-valley

Lily-of-the-valley (convallaria) is a groundcover that is easy to care for and produces a lovely fragrance. This plant has small white or pink bell-shaped flowers that appear quite delicate but are actually quite tough. It is recommended to plant lily-of-the-valley in a shady area where it can be appreciated for many years because it tends to spread. The flowers of lily-of-the-valley are small and nodding, growing on a thin stem and surrounded by wide glossy green leaves that can reach a height of about 6 inches (15.2 centimeters). These delicate flowers make a charming miniature bouquet.

4: Gardenia

In early summer, gardenia, a classic evergreen shrub, produces thick, waxy, white blossoms that release an intoxicating fragrance that can permeate an entire garden. Gardenia is named after Alexander Garden, a Charleston, S.C., physician and botanist. Gardenia has inspired several perfumes, including Chanel’s Gardenia and Marc Jacobs Eau de Perfume. Gardenias grow up to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) tall and 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) wide. They prefer rich soil, light shade, and frequent watering, but they are susceptible to mealybugs, mites, aphids, and whiteflies. Gardenias may require some effort to keep them healthy and insect-free, but their rich, sweet fragrance is definitely worth it!

3: Four o’clocks

Four o’clocks are charming flowers that get their name from a clever trick. These shrubby perennials have trumpet-shaped blooms that open in the afternoon and remain so throughout the night. The flowers open up due to the decrease in temperature in the late afternoon and remain open until the sun warms the air the next day. You can plant them close to a patio or deck to enjoy their fragrance in the evening. These flowers come in bold colors of fuchsia, yellow, and white, and bloom from midsummer until frost. They can withstand both full sun and partial shade, require very little water, and grow up to 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) tall [source: Thigpen].

2: Jasmine

Jasmine is a popular flower around the world due to its sweet fragrance. The white or yellow jasmine (jasminium polyanthum) is native to tropical and warm temperate regions, and its essential oils are used in perfumes and aromatherapy for their relaxing and aphrodisiac effects. There are over 200 different species of jasmine, closely related to the olive family. These woody vines can grow up to 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 meters) tall, growing 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 centimeters) each year. Jasmine is known for its brilliant green leaves and soft, delicate, and sweetly scented flowers. The common jasmine is native to Iran, and its flowers are used to make attar of jasmine, which is used in many perfumes. Jasmine tea is made from the dried flowers of Arabian jasmine.

1: Rose

Roses are one of the most beautiful and popular flowers in the world. They are divided into three classes: species roses, old garden roses, and modern roses. Species roses have simple five-petaled flowers and colorful hips, while old garden roses offer a delicate beauty and a wonderful perfume, usually in white or pastel colors. Modern roses are prized for their rich colors and luxurious shapes, but their aroma varies among species and is often less potent than old-fashioned garden roses. Growing roses requires a lot of sunlight, frequent pruning and fertilization, and a great deal of care, but their beauty, complexity, and intoxicating fragrance are extremely rewarding [source: The Flower Expert].

For more information on sweet-smelling blooms, continue to the next page.

Additional Information

Related Articles

  • Ideas for a Fragrant Garden
  • Cut Flower Arrangements
  • Benefits of Annual Plants
  • Top 10 Plants for Spring
  • 10 Vines for Privacy


  • “Favorite Fragrant Plants for Your Garden.” (Accessed April 8, 2011)
  • Ferguson, Danielle. “Annuals with Sweet Scents.” Fine Gardening. (Accessed April 7, 2011)
  • Reed, Rebecca Bull. “Beautiful Wisteria.” Southern April 2008. (Accessed April 11, 2011)
  • The Flower “Frangipani.” (Accessed April 11, 2011)
  • The Flower “Roses.” (Accessed April 9, 2011)
  • Thigpen, Charlie. “Fragrances of the South.” Southern 2004. (Accessed April 11, 2011)


1. What are the 10 best smelling flowers?

The 10 best smelling flowers are: roses, jasmine, gardenia, lavender, lilac, lily of the valley, hyacinth, honeysuckle, peony, and freesia. These flowers have a strong and pleasant fragrance that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors.

2. What is the most fragrant flower?

The most fragrant flower is subjective, as everyone has different preferences. However, some of the most commonly recognized fragrant flowers are roses, gardenias, and jasmine.

3. Does the color of a flower affect its scent?

The color of a flower does not usually affect its scent. However, there are some exceptions. For example, some white flowers, like gardenias, tend to have a stronger scent than their colored counterparts.

4. Can you grow these flowers indoors?

Yes, most of these flowers can be grown indoors. However, some, like peonies, may require more space and sunlight than others. It’s important to research each flower’s specific needs before attempting to grow them indoors.

5. What is the best way to enjoy these flowers’ scents?

The best way to enjoy these flowers’ scents is to place them in a vase in a well-ventilated room. Additionally, you can create a flower arrangement with a mix of these fragrant flowers to create a unique scent. Some people also use essential oils extracted from these flowers to enjoy their scent in different ways.

6. Can you find these flowers in perfumes?

Yes, many perfumes use these flowers as a base for their scents. For example, jasmine and rose are commonly found in perfumes due to their strong and pleasant fragrance.

7. Are these flowers easy to care for?

Some of these flowers are easier to care for than others. For example, lavender and lilacs require minimal care and can thrive in a variety of climates. However, other flowers like gardenias and peonies require more specific care and attention.

8. Can you use these flowers for cooking?

Yes, some of these flowers can be used for cooking. For example, lavender can be used to add a floral flavor to baked goods and teas. However, it’s important to research each flower’s specific use and ensure that it’s safe for consumption.

9. What is the best time of year to plant these flowers?

The best time of year to plant these flowers varies depending on the specific flower and climate. Generally, spring and early summer are the best times to plant most of these flowers. It’s important to research each flower’s specific needs and recommended planting time before planting.

10. Can you buy these flowers online?

Yes, these flowers can often be bought online from nurseries and florists. It’s important to ensure that the flowers are of high quality and will be shipped safely to avoid damage in transit.

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