The Ultimate Guide to the Best Fragrant Shrubs for a Heavenly-Scented Garden

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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Fragrant Shrubs for a Heavenly-Scented Garden

If you love the sweet-smelling fragrances that flowers produce, then incorporating fragrant shrubs into your garden is a must. Not only do these shrubs add beautiful colors and textures to your outdoor space, but they also infuse it with delightful scents that can transport you to a different world. Whether you’re looking for a plant that blooms in the spring or one that keeps your garden smelling amazing all year round, there are plenty of options to choose from. From the intoxicating scent of the Korean Spice Viburnum to the breathtaking fragrance of the Moon Magnolia, here we’ve rounded up the top 10 fragrant shrubs that are sure to make your garden smell heavenly.

1. Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

This deciduous shrub is not only stunning with its dense clusters of pink buds that open to reveal white flowers in the spring, but it also gives off a delightful spicy-sweet fragrance. The Korean Spice Viburnum is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and can grow up to 6 to 8 feet tall.

2. Winterhazel (Corylopsis spicata)

If you’re looking for a shrub that produces a heavenly fragrance in late winter or early spring, the Winterhazel is the perfect option. This shrub blooms with small yellow flowers that are highly fragrant. The Winterhazel is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and can grow up to 6 to 10 feet tall.

3. Sugar Shack® (Viburnum nudum ‘Bulk’)

The Sugar Shack® is a compact shrub that is famous for its beautiful fall foliage and its fragrant white flowers that appear in early summer. This low-maintenance shrub can reach a height and width of about 3 to 5 feet and is hardy to USDA Zone 5.

4. Bloomerang® Lilac (Syringa x ‘Penda’)

If you love the smell of lilacs but hate having a short-lived blooming season, the Bloomerang® Lilac is the perfect shrub for you. Unlike traditional lilacs that bloom for a couple of weeks in the spring, the Bloomerang® Lilac is a reblooming variety that produces sweet-smelling flowers in the spring and again in late summer to fall. This shrub is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and can reach a height and width of about 4 to 5 feet.

5. Black Lace™ Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’)

The Black Lace™ Elderberry is not only known for its beautiful dark purple foliage and pink flowers, but also for its sweet, fragrant scent. This shrub is a great option for those looking to attract birds and butterflies to their garden. It is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and can reach a height and width of about 6 to 8 feet.

6. Sugartina® (Itea virginica ‘Sprich’)

The Sugartina® is a small shrub that produces fragrant, bottlebrush-like flowers in mid-summer. These flowers give off a sweet fragrance that can fill your garden with an intoxicating scent. The Sugartina® is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and can reach a height and width of about 2 to 3 feet.

7. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

The Buttonbush is a versatile shrub that produces unique, ball-shaped white flowers that emit a pleasant fragrance. This shrub is perfect for wet or poorly drained areas and is known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and can grow up to 6 to 12 feet tall.

8. Scentsation Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum ‘Scentsation’)

This honeysuckle shrub produces highly fragrant flowers in the summer that can fill your garden with a delightful aroma. The Scentsation Honeysuckle is a low-maintenance shrub that is highly tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. It is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and can reach a height and width of about 6 to 10 feet.

9. Sicilian Sunshine™ Oregano (Origanum vulgaris ‘Aureum’)

If you’re looking for a fragrant shrub that you can enjoy both indoors and outdoors, the Sicilian Sunshine™ Oregano is a great choice. This small shrub produces aromatic, golden-yellow leaves that are perfect for culinary use. It is hardy to USDA Zone 7 and can reach a height and width of about 12 to 14 inches.

10. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

The Spicebush is a native shrub that is known for its fragrant leaves, stems, and flowers. This low-maintenance shrub is perfect for those looking to attract wildlife to their garden, as it provides food and shelter for birds and butterflies. The Spicebush is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and can grow up to 6 to 12 feet tall.

Incorporating fragrant shrubs into your garden not only adds visual interest, but also enhances the overall experience with their delightful scents. Whether you choose the intoxicating fragrance of the Korean Spice Viburnum or the sweet-smelling flowers of the Bloomerang® Lilac, these top 10 fragrant shrubs are sure to make your garden smell amazing.

10 Top Fragrant Shrubs

When it comes to selecting shrubs to make your garden smell amazing, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are 10 top fragrant shrubs that will fill your yard with delightful scents throughout the year:

Shrub Fragrance Features
Korean Spice Viburnum Fragrant flowers that smell like cloves Flowers in spring, red foliage in fall
Lilac Powerful, sweet scent Comes in various colors and cultivars
Sicilian Orange Strong, citrusy fragrance Beautiful white flowers in spring
Himalayan Sweetbox Delicate, spicy scent Tolerant of shade and cold
Buttonbush Fragrant flowers with a sweet scent Tall and winter-hardy shrub
Korean Spice Viburnum Fragrant flowers that smell like cloves Flowers in spring, red foliage in fall
Sarcococca Strong, sweet fragrance Tolerates a wide range of soil types
Wax Myrtle Pleasant aroma similar to bayberry Attractive foliage and berries
Italian Jasmine Sweet, exotic scent Produces fragrant white flowers
Cephalanthus Strong vanilla-like fragrance Attracts butterflies and bees

These 10 top fragrant shrubs will make your garden smell amazing and add beauty to your landscape. Choose the ones that suit your yard and enjoy the delightful scents they bring.

Roses

Roses are quite possibly the most well-known and cherished fragrant shrubs. There are many varieties to choose from, but some of the most popular and highly fragrant options include:

1. ‘Daphne’ (Daphne burkwoodii) – This lovely shrub produces clusters of small, pale pink flowers with a sweet fragrance.

2. ‘Chinese Lilac’ (Syringa chinensis) – With its purple-leaf foliage and fragrant purple flowers, this shrub is a standout in any garden.

3. ‘Occidentalis’ (Sambucus nigra) – Also known as elderberry, this shrub has beautiful black foliage and produces clusters of small, fragrant white flowers.

4. ‘Winterhazel’ (Corylopsis spicata) – This shrub is a great option for cold gardens, as it blooms in early spring and produces fragrant yellow flowers.

5. ‘Sicilian Laurel’ (Viburnum tinus) – With its dark green foliage and long-lasting white flowers, this shrub is a favorite for both its fragrance and its beauty.

6. ‘Andromeda’ (Pieris japonica) – This evergreen shrub produces clusters of fragrant white flowers in early spring.

7. ‘Forsythia’ (Forsythia) – This shrub is known for its early spring bloom, with its bright yellow flowers adding a burst of color and fragrance to the garden.

8. ‘Angel’s Trumpet’ (Brugmansia) – Although not a true shrub, this vine-like plant produces large, trumpet-shaped flowers with a sweet fragrance.

9. ‘Lace®’ (Calycanthus) – Also known as sweetshrub, this shrub produces maroon flowers with a unique spicy-sweet fragrance.

Please note that the names listed above are just a few examples of fragrant roses. There are many other varieties and cultivars available, so do some research and select the one that best suits your garden and climate zone.

Lilacs

Lilacs are one of the most beloved and popular fragrant shrubs. Known for their beautiful blossoms and enticing scents, lilacs are a must-have in any garden. These versatile shrubs come in a variety of colors, including shades of purple, pink, white, and even yellow. Lilacs are not only beautiful but also highly fragrant, filling your garden with their sweet aroma.

One of the best varieties of lilacs is the ‘Syringa vulgaris,’ also known as the common lilac. This type of lilac is a top choice for many gardeners due to its powerful scent and beautiful flowers. The ‘Syringa vulgaris’ blooms in late spring to early summer, and its flowers can last for up to three weeks, making it a long-lasting flowering shrub.

Another popular lilac variety is the ‘Bloomerang,’ which is a reblooming lilac. Unlike other lilacs that bloom only once a year, the ‘Bloomerang’ lilac blooms twice, once in late spring and again in late summer. This makes it a great choice for those who want to enjoy the fragrance of lilacs for a longer period of time.

Lilacs have a variety of uses in the garden. Their vibrant colors and fragrant flowers make them a perfect addition to any flower bed or border. Lilacs can also be planted as hedges or used as focal points in the garden. Additionally, the flowers of some lilac varieties, such as the ‘Syringa vulgaris,’ can be used for making floral arrangements or potpourri.

It’s important to note that while lilacs are beautiful and fragrant, some varieties, such as the ‘Syringa vulgaris,’ can be poisonous if ingested. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep them away from children and pets.

To ensure the healthy growth of lilacs, they should be planted in well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter, such as compost. They prefer full sun and should be watered regularly, especially during dry spells. Lilacs also benefit from annual pruning to maintain their shape and promote new growth.

In conclusion, lilacs are a top choice when it comes to fragrant shrubs. Their beautiful blossoms and powerful scents make them a perfect addition to any garden. Whether you choose the common lilac, the reblooming ‘Bloomerang,’ or any other variety, lilacs will add beauty and fragrance to your garden for years to come.

Korean Spice Viburnum

The Korean Spice Viburnum is a dwarf shrub that packs a powerful scent. Its deep pink flowers blossom in late spring and fill your garden with a delightful fragrance that resembles a blend of vanilla, spice, and cherry. The fragrant blossoms last for several weeks and attract butterflies and bees, making this shrub not only beautiful to look at but also beneficial to pollinators.

This viburnum bush, also known as Viburnum carlesii, is a popular choice for gardens in the Midwest and Northern regions. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and has a rounded form. The Korean Spice Viburnum prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate full sun to partial shade.

In addition to its pleasant scent, the Korean Spice Viburnum also produces small red fruits in the fall. These berries are not only decorative but also attract birds to your garden. This shrub is a great addition to both formal and informal landscapes and can be planted as a solitary specimen or in groups.

If you love the scent of Korean Spice Viburnum but have a smaller garden, there is a dwarf variety called Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ that reaches a height of only 3 feet. This compact version still has all the same fragrant qualities as its taller counterpart.

Other fragrant shrubs that you may consider adding to your garden include Sweet Abelia, Lilac (Syringa), Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica), Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Elderberry (Sambucus), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), and Sicilian Privet (Ligustrum vulgare).

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.