What could be more wonderful than strolling through a flower garden full of scent and fragrance? Here are some top perennial picks for a pleasing fragrant filled garden.
#1. Border Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Zone 5-9. These dianthus plants are also called “clove pinks” sometimes because of the deliciously clove scented flowers it produces.
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It is a great dianthus choice for containers and fragrance garden edgings because of the compact 1-2′ height. The double carnation-like flowers appear in early summer, last several weeks, and can be yellow, pink, white or bi-colored.
Dianthus also has fine cut, silvery-green foliage that combines well with other plants.
#2. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Zones 3-9. Hyssop is a 2′ tall shrub-like plant with dark green, thin leaves. Hyssop is an herbaceous perennial but the aromatic stems are semi-woody giving it a shrub like growth habit.
Use hyssop plants as small, compact shrubs in a fragrance garden, container planting or mixed foundation border. This herb has been revered throughout history for its precious oils and is grown in Biblical themed gardens.
Hyssop prefers well-drained soil and regular watering until the plants are well-established when it becomes fairly drought tolerant. Early summer hyssop flowers are blue, pink or white and very fragrant making them popular with bees and butterflies.
#3. Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
Zones 3-8. As with roses, peonies vary in flower fragrance from variety to variety. If you can purchase a peony that you’ve first seen blooming you’ll have a better idea of the fragrance strength.
Peonies grow about 3′ tall and wide and produce beautiful flowers in red, pink and white shades. These long-lived perennials prefer cool nights, rich soil and light yearly pruning although peony plants don’t typically need to be divided.
#4. Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Zone 4-9. A fragrant perennial that attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your garden. Bee balm prefers moist soil conditions and, being a member of the mint family, will readily naturalize when conditions suit it.
Divide every three years or so to control the spread of bee balm or plant it in a semi-boggy area where other plants would suffer from root rot. The aromatic leaves are used in traditional teas and salads giving bee balm one of its common names “Oswago Tea”.
Mildew or drought conditions can stress bee balm so provide plenty of moisture and keep the plants spaced far enough apart to allow good air circulation.
#5. Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Zone 4-8. Garden phlox is an herbaceous perennial and has showy, fragrant flower clusters that make great cut flowers and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden.
Garden phlox prefers full sun but in hotter climates part shade is appreciated and while most cultivars will not grow true from seed phlox is easy to divide in early spring.
Typical growth is 2-3′ tall and wide with a full, rounded growth habit.