9 of the Best-Smelling Flowers That Belong in Your Garden

This fragrant mix of annuals and perennials will help you find the best smelling flowers for your garden.

Shot of a happy young woman holding a tray of seedlings for the garden
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There’s nothing like catching the scent of flowers drifting through the window on a warm summer breeze. Here are some of my favorites, both annual and perennial, to include in your flower garden.

Rose bush covered with beautiful fragrant blooms and lit by early summer sunshine, English country garden, Surrey, UK
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This list of best smelling flowers has to start with roses! There are a dizzying number of rose varieties, which means you can find the perfect color, growing habit and scent for your garden. English roses are particularly prized for their aroma and disease resistance. The scent description for the orange ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ rose reads like a wine label: “Fruity, with hints of pear, grape and citrus.” Here’s our favorite fragrant roses to perfume your garden.

Amp up the drama in your garden with these striking burgundy perennial flowers.

Lavender flowers blooming in a field
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English Lavender

The clean, calming scent of lavender has been cherished for millennia, dried and used in cleaning products, soaps and even medicinally. English lavender is hardy to zone 5 and easy to grow. And the flowers are edible.

Close up of Lily of the valley
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Lily of the Valley

This perennial ground cover is one of the first to poke through the ground in spring, with slender, dark-green leaves. Lily of the valley flowers hang from green stems like a row of little white bells. Though the flowers are tiny, they have one of the most potent and lovely floral perfumes you’ll ever smell. I love to place small vases of lily of the valley stems throughout the house after a good spring cleaning. The plants return and spread each year, growing in zones 2-9. Check out these super fragrant flowers that pollinators love.

Monarda is a flower that brighty and powerflly colors the flower bed in summer, and a refreshing fragrance.
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Bee Balm

The scent of bee balm flowers has been described as having hints of mint, oregano or thyme. There is also an orangey scent to the flowers and leaves, one reason why bee balm is sometimes referred to as “wild bergamot.” (Though true bergamot is derived from citrus oil.) No matter how you describe the spicy scent, it’s a beautiful flower to have in your garden and is hardy in zones 4-9. The colorful flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

The flowers and leaves are also edible; harvest them to make tea or to flavor salads and meats. Find more edible plants to add to your landscaping.

Decorative peas / Lathyrus
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Sweet Peas

Frilly and pretty, sweet peas are beloved for their beauty in the garden, in cut bouquets and for their honey-sweet scent. These annual or perennial plants are garden vines, so train them over trellises and supports to add vertical dimension to your yard.

Some find sweet peas fussy to grow. To ensure success, start seeds early, plant in rich soil and give them lots of sun with shaded roots.

"Stargazer lilies, with striking white, red and pink petals and orange anthers, in bloom."
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Oriental Lilies

The powerful and rather seductive aroma of Oriental lilies will drift through your windows the moment they bloom in mid-summer. They are also visually stunning with rich color, broad, showy petals and long stamen. One of the most popular varieties of Oriental lily is ‘Stargazer,’ with petals that are deep reddish-pink edged in white. Planting bulbs is one of the most rewarding fall garden chores.

Beautiful close up of white trumpet like flowers of the jasmine tobacco plant, nicotiana alata, in bloom, also known as aztec, Persian and sweet tobacco.
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If you’re looking for a plant to sweeten the evening air, this is a great choice. Also known as flowering tobacco, nicotiana is grown in most zones as an annual. It has slender, tubular white flowers growing above large green leaves, and the jasmine-like scent is strongest after dark. Look for the heirloom variety Nicotiana alata, or ‘Jasmine Tobacco,’ which is more fragrant than modern cultivars. Plant these flowers and enjoy the backyard benefits of a moon garden.

Alyssum flowers. Alyssum in sweet colors. Alyssum in a red brown pot on wood table, in a dense grounding in a greenhouse.
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Sweet Alyssum

Clouds of sweet alyssum in shades of white, purple and pink are so pretty in garden borders and containers, and they have a wonderful, honey-like scent to boot. Grow alyssum from starts or from seeds planted directly in the ground. It grows as an annual in colder zones, and will readily self-sow in the following years. Growing alyssum in containers is a great way to have easy access to the sweetly scented flowers. Find more easy plants for container gardening.

Beautiful pink, summer flowers of Phlox Paniculata 'Laura'
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This is another garden favorite whose fragrance will draw you in. The purple flowers also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Phlox grow to heights of two to four feet, and are perfect to place behind shorter perennials. The perfumed blooms appear in mid-summer, and you can find varieties of phlox in white, pink, orange and purple.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Nancy Mock
Nancy Mock, a Vermont-based food writer and recipe developer, launched the site Hungry Enough to Eat at Six in 2014. Her food photography has appeared in Taste of Home for such delicious dishes as Marry Me Chicken, fudgy 100 Hour Brownies and garlicky homemade Pesto. Additionally, her work has appeared in Birds & Bloom, Reader’s Digest and Mashed. In 2016, she won the Grand Prize in the National Girl Scouts Cookie Recipe Contest for her recipe, Trefoils Toffee & Chocolate Bark with Toasted Almonds.