Aromatic Flowering Shrubs

There is no greater pleasure for a gardener than to step into the landscape and breathe in the scent of aromatic flowering shrubs. Smell is one of our most primal senses, and many scents conjure vivid memories and reactions. Beyond scent, ornamental shrubs frequently offer multi-season interest, providing great blooms and bright fall colors as an added benefit.

Although many flowers have wonderful scents, flowering shrubs have blooms that are higher off the ground-perfect for taking a big whiff. Backyard gardeners often spend so much time on the look of their landscapes that they forget to include the other senses. Aromatic flowering shrubs are perfect for adding an extra dimension to your landscape.

Cool Shrubs for Cool Gardens
Northern gardeners have a wide range of fragrant shrubs to choose from. Lilacs and tree peonies grace many landscapes with their classic looks and fragrances. Unique aromatic shrubs are available as well. Vernal Witch Hazel warms late winter with its orange, tassel-like blooms, while Clove Currant's spicy flowers lead to tart edible fruit in the summer.

Fragrances from Many Lands
Southern gardeners have the luxury of drawing their aromatic flowering shrubs from all over the globe. Mediterranean native Rosemary fills the garden with its pine-like scent. Asian gardenias and Fragrant Olive shrubs have wonderful scents and striking white blooms. Warm landscapes can also take advantage of native plants like Viburnum and Mock Orange.

Keep Those Great Scents Close
Aromatic flowering shrubs should be placed in the landscape where they will be encountered frequently. Planting a scented shrub near an entrance is the perfect welcome to the yard or garden. Alongside decks and patios lies another perfect place to provide a burst of color and fragrance. Ornamental shrubs placed along a path or walkway give visitors a chance to linger as they pass.

Most aromatic flowering shrubs require full sun to partial shade in order to produce strong, healthy blooms. Ornamental shrubs in northern climates often benefit from some shelter from drying winter winds. Consider planting them against a wall or fence. Flowering shrubs planted in southern climates will appreciate a bit of shade from intense afternoon sun. Dappled shade from a pergola or nearby tree will usually do the trick.

Pruning Shrubs to Promote Health and Growth
Removing excess or damaged limbs will help ornamental shrubs get better air flow and promote plant health. Pruning will also give shrubs a neat appearance and allow their blooms to appear their best. Removing dead, bunched or overlapping branches should be a priority. Make sure all pruning blades are sharp and clean to keep the plant healthy.

Properly timed pruning will help flowering shrubs produce healthy blossoms year after year. Spring bloomers should be pruned after blooms fade but before new buds have set. Late bloomers should be pruned in early spring before new growth starts.

There is no greater pleasure for a gardener than to step into the landscape and breathe in the scent of aromatic flowering shrubs. Smell is one of our most primal senses, and many scents conjure vivid memories and reactions. Beyond scent, ornamental shrubs frequently offer multi-season interest, providing great blooms and bright fall colors as an added benefit.

Although many flowers have wonderful scents, flowering shrubs have blooms that are higher off the ground-perfect for taking a big whiff. Backyard gardeners often spend so much time on the look of their landscapes that they forget to include the other senses. Aromatic flowering shrubs are perfect for adding an extra dimension to your landscape.

Cool Shrubs for Cool Gardens
Northern gardeners have a wide range of fragrant shrubs to choose from. Lilacs and tree peonies grace many landscapes with their classic looks and fragrances. Unique aromatic shrubs are available as well. Vernal Witch Hazel warms late winter with its orange, tassel-like blooms, while Clove Currant's spicy flowers lead to tart edible fruit in the summer.

Fragrances from Many Lands
Southern gardeners have the luxury of drawing their aromatic flowering shrubs from all over the globe. Mediterranean native Rosemary fills the garden with its pine-like scent. Asian gardenias and Fragrant Olive shrubs have wonderful scents and striking white blooms. Warm landscapes can also take advantage of native plants like Viburnum and Mock Orange.

Keep Those Great Scents Close
Aromatic flowering shrubs should be placed in the landscape where they will be encountered frequently. Planting a scented shrub near an entrance is the perfect welcome to the yard or garden. Alongside decks and patios lies another perfect place to provide a burst of color and fragrance. Ornamental shrubs placed along a path or walkway give visitors a chance to linger as they pass.

Most aromatic flowering shrubs require full sun to partial shade in order to produce strong, healthy blooms. Ornamental shrubs in northern climates often benefit from some shelter from drying winter winds. Consider planting them against a wall or fence. Flowering shrubs planted in southern climates will appreciate a bit of shade from intense afternoon sun. Dappled shade from a pergola or nearby tree will usually do the trick.

Pruning to Promote Health and Growth
Removing excess or damaged limbs will help ornamental shrubs get better air flow and promote plant health. Pruning will also give shrubs a neat appearance and allow their blooms to appear their best. Removing dead, bunched or overlapping branches should be a priority. Make sure all pruning blades are sharp and clean to keep the plant healthy.

Properly timed pruning will help flowering shrubs produce healthy blossoms year after year. Spring bloomers should be pruned after blooms fade but before new buds have set. Late bloomers should be pruned in early spring before new growth starts.

10 Popular Aromatic Flowering Shrubs

  1. Miss Kim Lilac (Syringa patula "Miss Kim") Zones 3 to 7
    Medium to large shrub. Light purple, strongly aromatic flowers appear in late spring to early summer.
  2. Clove-Scented Currant (Ribes odoratum) Zones 3 to 8
    Medium upright shrub. Clove scented, butter yellow flowers in the spring and deep red leaves in the fall. This shrub also produces edible black fruit in summer.
  3. Tree Peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) Zones 4 to 6
    Medium upright shrub. Many varieties, all of which feature large fragrant blooms. Colors range from white and yellow through deep red. Blooms appear in the spring.
  4. Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) Zones 4 to 8
    Tree-like, medium-sized shrub with a spreading habit. Late-winter fragrant blooms are gold with red centers.
  5. Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum) Zones 4 to 9
    Small shrub. Deeply aromatic with a pungent sweet smell. Dark pink blooms appear in late spring.
  6. Mock Orange (Philadelphus) Zones 4 to 10
    Medium to large upright shrub. Abundant, sweet citrus-scented blooms in early summer.
  7. Viburnum (Viburnum farreri "Nanum") Zones 5 to 8
    Dwarf (2' to 3') version. White aromatic flowers with a spiced wisteria scent appear in early spring. Best flowers in full sun.
  8. Rosemary Arp (Rosmarinus officinalis "Arp") Zones 6 to 10
    Small to medium dense shrub. This decorative evergreen features intensely aromatic foliage. Small blue flowers appear on mature plants in winter months.
  9. Fragrant Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) Zones 7 to 10
    Large, tree-like ornamental shrub. Clusters of highly aromatic white flowers appear in spring and fall.
  10. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) Zones 8 to 11
    Medium rounded shrub. Very sweet, white fragrant blooms contrast nicely with deep blue-green leaves.
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