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Fragrant Perennial Flowers - A List of 45+ Highly Fragrant Flowers

This page is a list of all the fragrant perennial flowers I have found in my research. Perennial flowers come in all different shapes, colors, sizes, and scents. Some of these extremely fragrant flowers can be grown indoors and fill a home with their perfume-like aroma. Other flowers have subtle or unpleasant smells which some people may find disagreeable. Many of these perennial flowers' fragrance comes from the blossoms, while some of these plants have fragrant foliage instead. Nevertheless, all of the fragrant perennials on this list are flowering plants.

Fragrant Perennial Flowers

Astilbe - Astilbe is a groundcover which sends up highly-fragrant purple flowers in the summer. The fragrance is enjoyable to humans and pollinating insects alike. Astilbe is best planted along walkways and interspersed in areas where pollination is desirable, such as alongside vegetable gardens.

Belladonna Lily - Belladonna Lilies are large pink, white or purple flowers which grow best in hot, dry climates. These flowers are native to South Africa and plentifully produce large blooms well into the later Summer months. In winter, the foliage will die back and the bulb will go dormant until the following season. These fragrant bulb flowers are mainly cultivated as an ornamental garden plant, with the fragrance being a nice compliment to its ornamental properties.

Blue Butterfly Bush - This perennial grows cone-shaped inflorescences of bright blue flowers which are highly fragrant and attractive to bees and butterflies. The foliage is evergreen and is hardy to zone 5.

Butterfly Bush - The butterfly bush produces a nectar which is delicious for butterflies, which is why so many gardeners enjoy this perennial flower. Nevertheless, it is highly invasive and recommended that cultivation take place in containers. Butterfly bush is a separate species from the blue butterfly bush, exhibiting a slightly different form, color, and fragrance.

butterfly bush

Carnation -This is one of the most fragrant perennial flowers, specifically cultivated for use in the perfume industry. These soft flowers are said to possess a spicy scent, reminiscent of clove and pepper.


Daphne Odora - Also known as Winter Daphne, this plant produces highly fragrant clusters of pink and white flowers in the winter months (hardy to zone 7). The flowers smell very sweet and grow best in partial shade.


English Primrose - English Primroses are very colorful flowers which can be any color, including white, cream, yellow, blue, purple, pink and red. English primroses have a delicate fragrance which is subtly spicy and often used in perfumery as a base note.

English Primrose

Four O'Clock Flower - These large, colorful trumpet flowers are not only ornamental, but are also fragrant. Four O'Clock Flower has a sweet scent similar to orange blossoms. The flowers can be any color, including variegated and multi-colored.

Freesia - Freesias are colorful, low-growing members of the iris family which grow many fragrant blooms in small clusters. Freesias are one of the most fragrant garden flowers and are highly prized by the perfume and air-freshener industries for their fresh, peppery fragrance. They are also a popular cut flower and are often paired with roses in floral arrangements.


French Marigold - The bright orange-yellow flowers are both fragrant and delicious. The herbal, floral scent of French Marigolds is also attractive to pollinating insects. This perennial does best in full sun and is prone to fungal diseases when grown in partial shade.

Fuji Cherry - These beautiful flowers have a subtle almond-like fragrance which are hardy to zone 2. This deciduous tree is covered in the rose-shaped flowers early in the year and is a harbinger of spring in the United States.

Gardenia - Gardenias are large, showy white flowers which are also very sweet-smelling and have a characteristic scent. These flowers are distilled for their oils which are used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Gardenias' flowers grow during the spring and summer months.


Geranium - True Geraniums are highly fragrant. The purple flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees, while simultaneously repellant to rabbits and deer. Geraniums are different from Scented Geraniums, which are actually a member of the pelargonium family and not related to true geraniums.


Honeysuckle - Honeysuckle is widely known to be one of the best smelling flowers in the garden. This vining perennial has large clusters of intensely sweet flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Honeysuckle is so pleasantly fragrant that it is commonly grown in containers on porches or near windows so its scent can be readily enjoyed.


Hyacinth - Hyacinths are showy, colorful flowers which also have a strong, characteristic fragrance. The flowers are distilled for their fragrant oil which adds complexity to other floral notes when blended in a perfume. In addition to their pleasant scent, Hyacinths are stunningly beautiful and colorful flowers.


Jasmine - Jasmine is one of the most well-known and widely-cultivated fragrant perennial flowers. Jasmine has a unique scent which is very sweet, strong and pleasant. Grown indoors, one flowering jasmine plant can fill an entire home with its fragrance. There are many different types of jasmine, which produce flowers during different seasons. Some jasmines produce blossoms for up to 10 months of the year.


Jonquil - A member of the narcissus family, Jonquil are distinct from daffodils in that they grow in clusters instead of single flowers. Jonquil are strongly-scented and have a floral fragrance that is used to make perfume.


Lavender - Lavender is one of the most enjoyable fragrances in the world. This incredibly distinct aroma is used in soap, perfume, aromatherapy, air freshener, and even in the culinary arts. Lavender is commonly grown in large fields in Southern France, where its fragrance would be detectable for miles around.


Lemon Balm - Lemon Balm is an herbaceous perennial with fragrant foliage. Lemon Balm has a citrus smell similar to lemongrass and is used in herbal medicine and aromatherapy. Lemon balm is very useful for gardeners, who use it to repel mosquitoes, attract bees, and also cultivate it for its herbal foliage.

Lilac - Lilacs are one of the most fragrant flowers in the world. Lilacs are woody perennial shrubs with large clusters of small fragrant flowers which only bloom for about six weeks in the early summer. The scent of lilac is floral, distinct and memorable. Scented candles and air freshener companies use Lilac alone as a fragrance since its complex perfume does not need to be paired with other fragrances.

Lonicera Heckrottii - Also known as the Goldflame Honeysuckle, Lonicera Heckrottii has extremely fragrant blossoms which are pink and bloom during the summer months. Like other Honeysuckles, the intoxicating fragrance of this flower is highly attractive to bees and butterflies.

Matthiola - Matthiola is sometimes called the Perfume Plant because of its heavy fragrance. Matthiola produces clove-scented flowers which prefer cool temperatures, especially during the evening. During the warmer months, Matthiola does not thrive as well.

Meadowsweet - The tiny clusters of flowers of the Meadowsweet plant are highly fragrant and smell like very sweet almonds. Meadowsweet was traditionally used to deck the halls of a house during the Summer months, due to the belief that the sweet fragrance would invite a happy atmosphere into a home.


Mock Orange - Mock Orange is named for its similar appearance to the Orange tree, with its dark green foliage and small, white showy flowers. Mock Orange smells like a cross between jasmine and orange. This shrub is often grown as a hedge and is a favorite in white flower gardens for its plentiful blooms.

Mock Orange

Moss Rose - Moss Rose gets its name for it rose-like flowers, and is one of the most ancient types of roses. Moss Roses rarely reach more than eight inches in height and are extremely drought tolerant. The flowers are strongly fragrant.

Nerine Bowdenii - Nerine Bowdenii has fragrant pink, showy flowers that bloom in the Summer and Autumn months. This bulbous perennial has beautiful, showy flowers and takes well to growing in containers. Nerine Bowdenii is only hardy to zone 8, so it is best suited to warm climates.

Nerium - Nerium is a type of Oleander. Like all Oleander, it is highly toxic and can be lethal if consumed. Nerium Oleander is a fast-growing plant which is covered in bright white or pink flowers in the spring. The fragrance is very pleasant but not overly powerful.

Nicotiana - Better known as Flowering Tobacco or Jasmine Tobacco, Nicotiana grows lovely white flowers which are heavily fragrant. It is commonly cultivated as a bedding flower and can perfume an entire outdoor area with its delicious scent. Some cultivars are taller-growing than others and aren't suitable as a bedding flower. The blossoms have a similar color and shape to Jasmine, though the fragrance of Nicotiana is not evident until dusk when its perfume is released in great quantity.


Oriental Lily - Oriental Lilies are true Lilies which flower later in the season than typical Lilies. These flowers bloom from late Summer into mid-Autumn. There are many different varieties of Oriental Lilies. Some of them are subtly fragrant, while others are intoxicatingly floral and sweet.

Oriental Lily

Pansy - Pansies have an unforgettable fragrance that is unique to the species. These flowers emit their perfume in the early morning hours, and it is said that Yellow Pansies are the most fragrant of all. The flowers are both edible and nutritious.


Pelargonium - Scented Pelargonium are members of the geranium family. The foliage is fragrant when it is rubbed, and the scent can range from citrus to mint to rose, or it can even be pungent and foul. The flowers of scented Pelargonium are smaller than the ornamental varieties, and are not fragrant.

Peony - These perennial fragrant flowers can range in scent from citrus to rose to spice, depending on the species. Peonies can last for hundreds of years if properly maintained. The blossoms are suitable as a fragrant cut flower since the fragrance of Peony is enjoyable, but is not overwhelming.


Rain Lily - Rain Lilies are also known as Zephyranthes, whose brilliant white flowers are said to only bloom at night. Like Nicotiana or night-blooming jasmine, which are other white fragrant perennials that open in the evening hours, the scent of Rain Lily is heavy and intoxicating. Rain Lilies are toxic, though potentially medicinal.

Rose - A description for Rose is likely unnecessary, since the characteristic fragrance of a Rose is distinct and widespread. The fragrance of a Rose is considered by many to be the best fragrant flower in the world. Interestingly enough, many modern cultivars have been bred to have plentiful flowers which have no fragrance at all. Nevertheless, the exceptionally perfumed varieties are still grown, most often to be sold as fragrant cut flowers.


Scented Geranium - Scented Geraniums, also known as Pelargoniums, have uniquely fragrant foliage which can come in a wide variety of scents. The foliage is often dried and used as one of the ingredients in an herbal potpourri since it can retain its scent for many years. Scented Geraniums can smell of fruit, flowers, mint, spice, or it can be pungent, depending on the species.

Shasta Daisy - Shasta Daisies are fragrant, though to many their scent is downright horrendous. Shasta Daisies are said to smell green and astringent to some, while they reek of manure or ammonia to others. Despite this, they are a popular cut flower because their white and yellow blossoms are cheerful in a floral arrangement.

Shasta Daisy

Spanish Bluebell - Unlike the delightful fragrance of a regular Bluebell, the fragrance of a Spanish Bluebell is very faint, but it said to smell like onions. Spanish Bluebells are beautiful pale blue flowers which have, unfortunately, become invasive and supposedly threatens the true Bluebell of Britain.

St. John's Wort - St. John's Wort has beautiful, unique yellow flowers that are prized in herbal medicine. The flowers and foliage of St. John's Wort are very fragrant and smell sweet, herbal, and distinct to any other flower.

St Johns Wort

Sweet Alyssum - Sweet Alyssum makes a wonderfully fragrant groundcover or bedding flower because the clusters of tiny white, pink or purple flowers are subtly sweet and attractive to bees. Also known as the Carpet Flower, It is hardy to Zone 7, frost tolerant, and flowers from Winter through late Spring.

Tuberose - Tuberose is one of the strongest fragrances in perfumery. The scent is overpowering, fresh, and heady. Tuberoses are not related to true roses and get their name because they are highly fragrant tubular flowers. Even small, potted specimens can be overpowering in confined spaces. Allegedly, young women were forbidden to smell this flower in Victorian times, for fear they would spontaneously orgasm from its powerful fragrance.

Valerian - Valerian is powerfully fragrant. The entire plant, including the roots of Valerian, are fragrant and medicinal. Typically used as a home remedy for insomnia, the smell of Valerian is also very attractive to cats and can be overpowering. Opening a bag of dried valerian can make an entire apartment smell of this herb, and I'm speaking from personal experience. The scent is medicinal, herbal, and slightly bitter, though quite distinct.

Verbena - The fragrance of Verbena is similar to lemon balm: it is citrusy and lemony, but "green" smelling compared to true citrus. Verbenas are used in perfume and aromatherapy. The foliage and flowers are both subtly fragrant and are used in potpourri because they retain their scent for many years when dried.


Viburnum - This perennial shrub has many different species which are all fragrant. The fragrance can range from sweet and rosy to spicy, and different species also flower at different times. They are often planted as border shrubs, though many gardeners prefer to keep a solitary specimen neatly pruned.


Violet - Though not all Violets are fragrant, the species Viola Odorata or "English Violet" is distinctly fragrant and pleasant smelling. Its essential oils are distilled and used in perfumery and other fragrance industries.


A Couple Notes About Fragrant Flowers

Interestingly, the unique fragrances of perennial flowers almost always serve an important purpose. Many plants emit a fragrance which is only detectable to bees or butterflies, while others might emit an odorous chemical to repel predatory insects. In fact, it is likely that some flowers emit a fragrance because it is enjoyable only to humans, which ensures the survival and propagation of the fragrant species.

The fragrances of flowers can come from a few different chemicals. Some flowers, such as lavender, have oils present in their petals which can be fragrant for many years. Other plants rely on terpenes for their scent, which are shorter-lived fragrances that can literally "flash" off of the flower in a dry room. Finally, other fragrant flowers and herbs get their distinct perfume from volatile organic compounds. It is now known that the scent of a Rose is made up of over 400 different chemicals!


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