Fragrant Flowers for Indoor and Outdoor Spaces


Driving with the windows down on a balmy summer evening and catching a breeze scented with honeysuckle, a crisp winter’s day spent chopping down a fir for the Christmas season—fragrant flowers and trees can transform our moods, call up happy memories, and create new ones. And whether you’re an urban dweller with limited indoor space or an avid green thumb with an extensive outdoor garden, it’s so easy to add these powerfully emotive scents to your green spaces. We talked with Elizabeth Jacoby, a Pennsylvania-based garden designer who has an abiding passion for aromatic botanicals, to find out her six of her favorite fragrant varieties.

1. Coconut Orchid, ‘Maxillaria tenuifolia’: “Orchids come to mind [for fragrant indoor plants] as they are easy-going if they’re given the correct amount of light and care. Coconut orchids are especially great because their flowers smell like coconut and they look interesting even when they’re not in bloom.”

2. Brazilian Button Flower, ‘Centratherum intermedium’: “A strong grower, the Brazilian button flower has leaves that smell like pineapple and has fun purple flowers. I make sure to plant something scented for every season and always have a ton of fragrant leaves too. You can find me (gently) shoving crushed leaves into peoples faces all the time!”

3. Gelsemium, ‘Gelsemium sempervirens’: “Gelsemium is a great early flowering vine with yellow flowers that smell so sweet.” A note of caution: it is a highly poisonous variety that must be kept away from children and animals—and handled by adults sparingly.

4. Rose-Scented Geranium, ‘Pelargonium graveolens’: “I also love huge potted mint or rose-scented geraniums. They give you great foliage to use in arrangements and they are pretty much pest-free.” You can use the petals in drinks, desserts, or in the bath too. Elizabeth adds, “nature is a complete sensory experience, so gardens always look beautiful but they can also smell, sound, and taste beautiful too!”

5. Buddha Hand, ‘Citrus medica’: “The fabulous Buddha hand is really nice because the blossom is more nuanced than a lemon and as a bonus, the fruit is super fragrant even just sitting in a bowl for weeks,” Elizabeth says. It’s an incredibly unusual looking plant and while it is made up entirely of rind (no pulp, peel, or seeds to be seen!), as Elizabeth mentioned, it works well anywhere you’d add citrus zest during cooking.

6. Viburnum: “For spring, I love Viburnum. I like to plant Viburnum near entryways or windows so while you’re in the house, you can open your windows and let their fragrances waft in.”

“Scent is a very primal sense and one I feel is too often overlooked when planning a garden,” Elizabeth says, so if you’re ready to add fragrance into your green spaces, don’t hesitate to stop by your local terrain nursery to start your own scent experience!

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