In this article, plants for producing fragrant flowers in containers will be highlighted. In the garden, scent is often very important, as we often feel uplifted and more contented, when our olfactory glands are exposed to beautiful smells.
The plants will guarantee to attract visitors to the garden especially wildlife. Scented flowers always add a new dimension to the container garden as not only form and colour is introduced, but also a beautiful new dimension of scent.
It is best to situate scented plants close to a seated area, bear front doors, on both sides of a garden path so that people can enjoy the scent that they produce. With paths, it is best to use plants that once brushed past will release their scents, such as lavender, rosemary or scented leave pelargoniums.
Do not plant very strong scented flowers such as regal lilies near eating areas, as the scent may be too strong for these areas. Strong smelling flowers will most certainly put you off your food.
You can have scent plants throughout the year, from roses that bloom in early autumn to Mahonia that give their pleasant smells in winter. There are vast arrays of spring and summer plants that will give scent throughout these seasons.
The following plants are recommended to grow in containers to not only provide colour but also, more importantly, will provide the extra dimension of scent.
AGASTACHE (Giant Hyssop) ‘Tangerine Dreams’
This 60cm tall tender perennial has grey-green, minty aniseed-scented leaves. In summer to autumn long-lasting spikes of small, tubular pale orange blooms that are nectar-rich appear. To make additional plants for next year, you can overwinter the plants by taking cuttings and storing them in a conservatory or greenhouse.
They prefer to be grown in a multipurpose compost in full sun.
ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA-URSI (Bearberry)
This trailing, evergreen shrub has glossy, oval green leaves that are silver on the back. In late spring to early summer, small, urn-shaped pink or white, fragrant flowers appear, followed by red berries. Grow this 10cm tall shrub in ericaceous compost in full sun or partial shade.
CHOISYA TERNATA (Mexican Orange Blossom)
This rounded evergreen shrub has aromatic glossy, oval green leaves. In late spring and once again in early autumn, white sweet smelling flower clusters appear. These shrubs prefer to be grown in full sun or partial shade in a soil-based compost, where it will grow up to 2.5m in height.
This perennial climber can be used to scramble over shrubs. In summer to early autumn, a large number of fragrant, white flowers appear above green, oval leaves. The followers are followed by fluffy seed heads. Look out for Clematis ‘Purpurea’ which has purple-copper young leaves. Grow in a large container of multipurpose compost in partial shade, where it will grow up to 2m in height. Clematis ‘Montana’ is a good alternative.
CLETHRA ALNIFOLIA (Sweet Pepper Bush)
This medium size shrub has serrated green leaves that turn yellow in autumn In late summer brush-like spikes of tiny, white bells that have a rich floral scent appear. Plant in a moisture retentive soil-based compost in partial shade, where it will grow up to 2.5m in height.
COSMOS ATROSANGUINEUS (Chocolate Cosmos)
For the chocolate lovers amongst us, this is a plant for you. This tender perennial has marooned coloured dish-shaped blooms that appear on slender stems in late summer to early autumn. The blooms that appear are chocolate scented and appear amongst feathery green leaves. Grow in pots of multipurpose compost in full sun where it will grow up to 60cm in height.
CRINUM x POWELLII ‘Album’
This perennial bulb has arching, strap-shaped green leaves. In late summer to autumn on erect stems, large, white funnel-shaped, richly perfumed flowers appear. Protect the plants in cold areas, where it will grow up to 1m in height. Plant in multipurpose compost in full sun.
DAPHNE BHOLUA (Nepalese Paper Plant)
This tall evergreen shrub has oval, dark green leaves that in late winter clusters of very sweetly fragrant, pinkish-purple, white flowers appear. Grow this 3m tall perennial in a soil-based compost in full sun or partial shade.
DAPHNE x BURKWOODII
This 60cm tall semi-evergreen shrub with small, green leaves are noted for their highly fragrant pink blooms that appear in spring. These are followed by red fruits. Plant in a soil-based compost in full sun or partial shade.
This small deciduous, upright shrub, has small, bright green leaves. In late spring to early summer, clusters of starry, white flowers appear en masse that produces a divine smell.
This 1m tall shrub prefers to be grown in a soil-based compost in full sun. Look out for Deutzia Odorata as an alternative.
DIANTHUS BARBATUS (Sweet William)
This bushy, upright biennial, is a mainstay of any container garden. It has lance-shaped green leaves, where domed heads of sweetly scented, pink, red, burgundy, white or bicoloured blooms appear in early summer. Grow in a pot of multipurpose compost in full sun.
DIANTHUS CARYOPHYLLUS (Border Coronation)
This traditional perennial ideal for cutting has narrow grey-green leaves, from which tall, slender stems are produced. The stems are topped with heavenly scented pink, white, red, orange or yellow appear. Usually grows up to 80cm in height, but dwarf varieties are available. Prefers to be grown in multipurpose compost in full sun.
DIANTHUS (Garden Pink) ‘Dad’s Favourite’
This 40cm tall dwarf evergreen perennial has short, grey-green, grassy-like leaves. This is followed by a succession of semi-double white flowers with maroon markings appear in summer. The plant has a rich clove-like scent when planted in multipurpose compost in full sun. Look out for Dianthus ‘Mystic Star’ as a good alternative.
EDGEWORTHIA CHRYANTHA (Paper Bush)
The paper bush has numerous rounded clusters of yellow blooms that are silky to the touch when in bud, giving a stunning display. From late winter to early spring these blooms are produced that have a spicy clove-like scent, Grow this shrub in a sheltered position in a large pot of soil-based compost, where it will grow up to 1.5 in height.
ERYSIMUM CHEIRI (Wallflower)
This favourite biennial, often planted in autumn, produces heads of bright yellow, orange, red, or pink blooms in mid-spring. The blooms are so divinely scented that it is not to be missed in the garden. Plant in a soil-based compost, where it will grow up to 30cm in height. Readily self-seeds.
HELITROPIUM ARBORESCENS ‘Cherry Pie’
This small 45cm tall evergreen shrub, which is often grown as an annual, has stems of oval, dark green, crinkly leaves. This bushy shrub produces clusters or purple or white vanilla scented bloom s all summer long. Grow in a soil-based compost in partial shade.
HYACINTHUS ORIENTALIS (Hyacinth)
No container garden will be complete without this spring flowering bulb. In early spring broad spikes of heavily fragrant, bell-shaped flowers in colour of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or white are produced. This 25cm tall bulb prefers to be grown in multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade.
LATHYRUS ODORATUS (Sweet Pea)
This annual climber, which is familiar to everyone, has oval leaves and richly perfumed flowers in shades of pink, blue, purple or white. They appear from summer to early autumn. To promote flowering pick seed pods and dispose of. Grow this 3m tall plant in multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade. Look out for ‘Old-fashioned. As a variety for a stronger scent.
LAVANDULA AUGUSTIFOLIA (English Lavender)
This firm favourite can be relied on to give scent throughout the year but especially so in summer. This evergreen shrub has narrow, aromatic silvery-green leaves. In late summer spikes of fragrant, blue-purple, pink or white flowers appear. It grows up to 60cm in height when planted in gritty soil-based compost in full sun.
LILIUM (Oriental Lily) ‘Red Hot’
This 1m tall bulb perennial produces arching stems that have slender green leaves. On top of the stems, blooms that are red and white-edged appear in summer. The exotic perfume of the blooms is unmistakable. Plant this bulb in a multipurpose compost in full sun. Look for alternatives such as Lilium ‘Casablanca’, Lilium ‘Tiger Woods’ or Lilium ‘Pink Perfection’.
LILIUM REGALE (Regal Lily)
This classic produces several large, white trumpet blooms on top of upright stems. In summer the richly perfumed flowers have yellow centres and pinkish outer petals. Stake this 2m tall plant that prefers to be grown in a multipurpose compost in full sun.
MAHONIA JAPONICA (Japanese Mahonia)
This 2m tall evergreen shrub with prickly edge glossy, green leaves that become purple-tinged, are a mainstay in any scented container garden. In winter to early spring, drooping, pale yellow flowers appear that fill the air with a rich honey scent. Grow in partial or total shade in soil-based compost.
MATTIHIOLA INCANA (Stock)
This half-hardy annual has grey-green leaves, from which large flower heads appear. From late spring to summer. This will fill pots of the plant with a clove-like scent, as long as it is planted in a multipurpose compost in full sun. The flowers come in white, pink, or red, where they will grow up to 25cm in height.
NARCISSUS (Daffodil) ‘February Gold’
This early variety is one of the first daffodils to flower in spring. It bears rich yellow flowers with a sweet scent. Plant in groups in large containers of multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade, where it will grow up to 30cm in height.
NARCISSUS (Jonquii Pipit) ‘Pipit’
In mid-spring, multiheaded flower appears that are lemon yellow and has cream upper petals. It is noted for their powerful perfume, and are perfect in pots of multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade near front doors. In ideal growing conditions, it will grow up to 27cm in height.
NICOTIANA (Tobacco Flower) ‘Lime Green’
This upright annual has spoon-shaped leaves that are sticky to the touch. In late summer and autumn, trumpet-shaped, greenish-yellow flowers appear, that is lightly scented. They will grow up to 60cm tall when planted in multipurpose compost in light shade.
NICOTIANA SYLVESTRIS (Flowering Tobacco)
This perennial, often grown as an annual, has large green sticky leaves, which from tall stems appear that are topped with plenty of tubular, white flowers with flared ends. This perennial will grow up to 1.1m in height when planted in multipurpose compost in partial shade. The scent is slight but divine in nature.
OENOTHERA BIENNIS (Evening Primrose)
This biennial that produces leaves in the first year is followed by flowering spikes the following summer. These 1.5m tall spikes produce yellow, bowl-shaped, lemon-scented blooms that open during the evening. Grow in a large container of multipurpose compost in full sun.
PETUNIA ‘Prism Series’
This compact perennial, often grown as an annual, produces large trumpet-shaped blooms all summer long. They come in numerous colours and are suitable to be planted in hanging baskets, window boxes, or pots near doorways. The sweet scent is more noticeable in the evening, where it will grow up to 35cm in height when planted in multipurpose compost in full sun.
ROSA (Rose) ‘Buff Beauty’
What would be a container garden be without the humble rose? This beautiful musk rose is a quick grower. It has long, arching stems of glossy, green leaves, and clusters of small, apricot-yellow, semi-double blooms. The heavenly scent adds welcome fragrance during the summer months and early autumn. This 1.2m bushy shrub likes to be grown in an enriched multipurpose compost in full sun.
ROSA (Rose) ‘Getrude Jekyll’
This 2m tall rose is a short climber that has richly performed, fully double mid-pink blooms. They appear from summer to early autumn where it can be grown against a wall near your front door. Grow in a large pot of enriched multipurpose compost in full sun.
SARCOCCA CONFUSA (Sweet Box)
This bushy evergreen shrub has dark green, glossy, lance-shaped leaves. It is grown for its fragrant tiny, white flowers that appear in winter. Grow this 1m tall shrub in a moisture retentive soil-based compost in partial or total shade, where it will grow up to 1m in height. Ideal for a north facing doorway.
SARCOCCA HOOKERIANA Var DIGYNA (Sweet Box)
This evergreen, clump-forming shrub has narrow, green, lance-shaped leaves. In winter, tiny fragrant white flowers appear. Ideal for doorways, where this 1.5m tall shrub prefers to be grown in a soil-based compost in full sun or partial shade.
SYRINGA MEYERI (Lilac) ‘Palibin’
This dwarf lilac is a slow growing, deciduous bush. In late spring and early summer heads of fragrant pink flowers appear that will bless any container garden. Plant this elegant shrub near doorways in a soil-based compost in full sun.
VIBURNUM x BODNANTENSE
A deciduous, upright shrub that produces pink-white blooms in rounded clusters along bare branches. Its leaves are oval green in shape. The sweet, almond-scented blooms are produced from late autumn to early spring. Grow this 3m tall shrub in a large container full of soil-based compost in full sun or partial shade.
This deciduous shrub produces doomed heads of pink buds that appear in late spring. The flower buds open to reveal white, trumpet-shaped flowers that are so sweet smelling. The flowers are followed by red and black berries in autumn. Plant this 2m tall shrub in a large container filled with soil-based compost in full sun.
VIOLA ODORATA (Sweet Viola)
This 30cm long creeping semi-evergreen perennial has heart-shaped leaves. In late winter to early spring, violet or white flowers will appear that has a delicate scent. Plant in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets in partial shade or full sun.
VIOLA x WITTROCKIANA (Pansy)
These perennials, often used as an annual, can flower in autumn/winter or in spring /summer. This is dependent on the variety used and when it was planted. They produce flowers of many shades and colours that have a sweet scent. Plant in groups in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets full of multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade, where it grows up to 20cm tall.
In this article, plants that will provide fragrant flowers to your container garden has been discussed. As you can see that there are numerous plants that can be used, and this is only scratching the surface.
They not only produce fragrant flowers but are also appeasing to the eyes. They come in different forms, heights and cover all the seasons.
Why do you not grow a fragrant plant today?
If you have a question that you wish to make or a comment that you need to raise, please do so below.
This rose has no thorns.