Best Smelling Flowers To Plant In Your Summer Garden

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Gardening is a treat for the eyes and your nose! So if you want your garden to have the most significant aromatic impact this summer, check out this list of the best-smelling flowers to plant in your garden.

Have you ever noticed how strongly our sense of smell is tied to our emotions and memories? For example, the smell of your favorite dish cooking in the kitchen bringing back childhood memories, or a whiff of perfume reminding you of someone you love… it’s truly incredible! 

In the same way, the sense of smell prevails in the garden. Whether it’s floral or herbal, it’s the stuff memories are made of. Catching a whiff of your favorite fragrance can conjure up people, places, and times long gone. 

Even if you don’t have a particularly strong memory tied to a scent, gardening is a sensory experience. The sense of smell can make time in your garden much more pleasant—who doesn’t like the smell of blooming flowers?

If you want to add some fragrant flowers to your garden bed this summer, keep reading to find the best-smelling flowers.

The Best Smelling Flowers to Add to Your Garden

A garden is best enjoyed through the senses: we look at the blooms, touch the greenery, and smell the fragrance. The pleasant scent that we enjoy has the primary purpose of attracting pollinators.

Luckily, we get to enjoy the sweet aroma, too. 

By the way, here are a few things you need to know about fragrant flowers: 

  • Fragrance fluctuates with temperature, weather, and time of day
  • The age of the bloom also greatly impacts the amount of scent you smell
  • We all have our particular preferences (scent preference is very personal)

So which are the best-smelling flowers? Here are some favorite scents to delight the senses!

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This fuss-free plant with large, showy blooms can thrive for years without special care. Some varieties have especially fragrant blooms while others aren’t particularly aromatic.

I highly recommend checking the variety before you purchase. Generally speaking, the double white and pink varieties are the most fragrant. Other types of peonies sometimes tend to have minimal to no aroma.

Zone: 3-8

Light Needs: Full sun (at least 5 hours a day)

Water Needs: Keep evenly moist in well-drained soil

Learn More: We have a full guide about planting peony roots so they grow healthy and thrive.


Perhaps the most popular herb, lavender, is often grown for its fragrant blooms. Lavender prefers to be in contact with the sun at all times and well-drained soil. Its tall blooms and the sought-after scent makes it a great plant for perennial gardens or to plant along walkways.  Lavender is deer resistant, drought-tolerant, and makes wonderful cut flowers.

Plus, it’s a great option to companion plant alongside your vegetable garden to draw in those vital pollinating insects.

Zone: 5-9

Light Needs: Full sun (at least 6 hours a day)

Water Needs: Drought tolerant


Heliotrope’s purple, blue and white flowers produce a sweet, rich fragrance that different people can describe differently. Some people say that the flowers have an almond scent, while others will describe the aroma to be more like cherry pie or even vanilla. This beautiful annual prefers full sun but also does well in partial shade in hot climates. 

Zone: Perennial in zones 10 and 11; annual in other zones

Light Needs: Full sun (at least 6 hours a day); afternoon shade in hotter climates

Water Needs: Rich, moist soil

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum is a low-maintenance, cool-weather annual that produces delicate, cheery, and tiny but fragrant white or purple flowers. Give them well-drained soil and a bright location and they will attract pollinators as well as provide natural perfume along your garden borders, garden beds, or hanging baskets all summer long. 

Alyssum is one of the fastest-blooming flowers in the garden. It only takes 45 days from germination to the first bloom.

Zone: 7-10 

Light Needs: Full sun or part shade

Water Needs: Rich, moist soil

Learn More: Sweet alyssum is also a hummingbird magnet! If you want to see more hummingbirds in and around your garden start with this list of these favorites.

Lily of the Valley

These dainty bell-shaped flowers bloom in spring and have a clean, sweet smell. Lily of the valley is a tough, low-maintenance ground cover to plant in late fall in a partially shady spot with moist soil.

Since this flower can be invasive, plant it in a naturally contained area or in a garden container.

WARNING: Lily of the valley is poisonous and should be kept out of gardens with children and pets. 

Zone: 2-9

Light Needs: Partial shade

Water Needs:  Moist, rich, well-drained soil


This southern favorite is a lovely shrub with beautiful white flowers that exude a warm, spicy aroma. If you have never smelled them before, trust me—these flowers smell good.

Gardenias are of the most famous fragrances in gardening, but these beautiful plants are cold-sensitive and will not survive harsh winters. You can, however, grow them in containers outside during the summer and then bring them indoors for the winter. 

The gardenia blooms at night, making it an excellent addition to your moonlight garden.

Zone: 7-11 for wintering outside

Light Needs: Partial shade

Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil

Notes: Gardenias prefer acidic soil with lots of organic matter mixed in. 


No fragrant garden is complete without a rose. Roses are beautiful and come in lots of color and shape options. As you probably know, they are perfect for cut flowers as well. For these reasons and more, the wonderfully aromatic rose is a must-have for any fragrant garden. I love the smell of roses most of all.   If I could have an old-fashioned cottage rose garden I probably would spend most of my days outside, sniffing the air. 

Roses are a primary ingredient in my homemade potpourri!

Zone: 3-10

Light Needs: Full sun (at least 6 hours a day)

Water Needs: Rich, well-drained soil. 


If your goal is to have fragrance in your garden, forget about planting tulips and instead plant early-blooming hyacinths. These flowers provide both a sweet aroma and beauty, available in many colors. Plant several different colors for a real aromatic punch, as they each have their own scent. 

Zone: 4-9

Light Needs: Full sun or part shade

Water Needs: Keep moist in well-drained soil

Notes: Plant bulbs in autumn so they can fully bloom by summer. 


Phlox is a very low-maintenance flower to grow, and it produces long-lasting color and fragrance when planted in a summer garden. You’ll especially notice its sweet aroma on warm days!

Phlox will bloom all summer long and is deer resistant. It also makes wonderful cut flowers.

Zone: 3-9

Light Needs: Full sun

Water Needs: Moist, fertile, well-drained soil

Oriental Lily

Incredibly aromatic and eye-catching, oriental lilies add fragrance and beauty to the summer garden. You can find oriental lilies in various shades of pinks, yellows, oranges, and whites when they bloom in mid-to-late summer. They also make beautiful cut flowers to showcase around your home. 

Zone: 4-9

Light Needs: Full sun, part sun

Water Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained soil

  • Related: If you like the look of lilies, we have guides on how to grow calla lilies and peace lilies, so they thrive.

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Sweet Autumn Clematis makes a showy statement at the end of the growing season when it becomes covered in star-shaped, white, sweetly fragrant flowers. You will especially notice its fragrance on warm, sunny days.

Zone: 4-9

Light Needs: Full sun for most profuse flowering; will tolerate part shade with fewer flowers

Water Needs: Keep moist in well-drained soil

  • Learn More: If you love clematis and want to grow it in your garden, we have all the tips and information you need to keep your clematis blooming strong yearly.


I look forward to blooming lilacs every year!

These sweet-smelling clustered flowers release a heavenly fragrance, and the plants are low-maintenance. You can find the blooms in various shades of white, pink, and purple. The bushes attract butterflies and fill the air with their intense, wonderful scent. Plant lilacs in full sun in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil.  

Zone: 2-9

Light Needs: Full sun

Water Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained soil

Growing Scented Flowers

Enjoy your garden on a whole new level by planting flowers that both smell and look good for your summer garden. Pick one or two fragrant flower types from this list of the best-smelling flowers for your garden and see how much more you want to be outside (or open your windows) to catch a whiff or two.

Another wonderfully scented flower is the night-blooming cereus. The catch? It only blooms one or two nights every year, so if you want to catch its scent, you must be diligent! Read more about it here.

Flowers cheer me up; their sweetly scented bright blooms are a feast for the senses.   Even if you never planted flowers before, I highly recommend planting at least one of these in your garden this year – I bet you will get hooked and want to fill your yard with flowers for years to come. It’s highly addicting. 

Growing your own flowers can also lead to wonderful dried flower displays. Check out our post on how to dry your lovely garden flowers and our post on how to keep those dried flowers looking their very best.

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