Plant expert reveals the most alluringly fragrant plants to make your garden smell divine

Fragrant planting is a great way to appeal to the senses to make any outdoor space all the more alluring

a collage of 5 of the best fragrant garden plants to make a garden smell nice
(Image credit: Getty Images | Michael Phillips | hsvrs | Albert Fertl | Francesca Leslie |Penpak Ngamsathain)

While all plants and flowers smell fresh and fragrant, there are significant fragrant plants that experts recommend to make a garden smell even better thanks to their unique perfumes.

Making your garden look expensive is one thing but making it smell glorious should be of significant consideration to ensure that your plot feels inviting on all levels by invigorating the senses. Given the success of scent-scaping homes, it's no surprise that scenting gardens are becoming a hugely popular garden trend.

As with the best fragrance houseplants to make your house smell good there are garden varieties that experts recommend to grow if you are seeking a strong floral fragrance to enchant your outdoor space.

Fragrant plants to make your garden smell nice

From popular scented climbing plants to perfumed perennials, we spoke exclusively to Julian Palphramand, head of plants at British Garden Centres to get his recommendations of the best fragrant and alluring plants to liven up your garden

Julian Palphramand head of plants at bristish Garden Centres
Julian Palphramand

Overseeing the procurement and selection of indoor and outdoor plant varieties for the company's 62 retail stores across the UK makes Julian an expert in sourcing the perfect plants. His expertise in horticulture and his passion for fostering a love of plants among customers help drive the continuous growth and success of the group.

1. Trachelospermum

White jasmine flowering

(Image credit: Getty Images | Penpak Ngamsathain)

"There is no aroma more intoxicating than from a Trachelospermum, more commonly known as Jasmine," says Julien. "It’s delicate and sweet with gorgeous star-shaped flowers that can add a touch of colour to the garden when nothing else is flowering."

The sweet and distinctive scent of the Jasmine is a great evergreen plant that will deliver aroma all year round as it flowers in summer and winter depending on the variety. You can buy potted Trachelospermum jasminoides at Thompson & Morgan.

"Great climbers, this plant can be used to cover up a shed or fence, or placed on a trellis by your back door so its heady fragrance can be experienced from your home." So not only will it make your garden smell nice it can also act as one of the best privacy plants.

2. Honeysuckle

pink and yellow honeysuckle flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images | hsvrs)

Not only is this sweet-smelling flower good for aroma it is also one of the best plants for pollinators. "Honeysuckle is a fragrant plant that attracts pollinating moths with its sweet scent at night," Julian explains.

"Its intoxicating perfume is best enjoyed in a container, with the plant used to soften a trellis, fence, or pergola so its scent wafts in the wind. Honeysuckle comes in warm colours of dark pink or golden white." 

This glorious foliage is a vigorous semi-evergreen climber that gives your garden structure and visual interest – I used to have one I propagated in my garden and can confirm the fragrance is a delight every time you walk by. You can buy potted Lonicera Periclymenum Serotina Honeysuckle at Primrose.

3. Sweet peas

pink and purple sweet peas in a cottage garden

(Image credit: Getty Images | Francesca Leslie)

This cottage garden classic is as famous for its sweet aroma, as much as the pretty pink and purple petals. "The sweet pea plant greets you with a captivating and refreshing burst of fragrance," Julian enthuses. 

"Its unique scent can lift your spirits and brighten your mood, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a sensory escape in their garden or home." It is ideal for creating a sensory cottage garden idea.

Typically these beautiful blooms peak between the end of May and July but with the right maintenance of cutting them back and deadheading they can flower through until late summer into September. Similar to what to do with hyacinths after flowering, it's all about the right care to ensure the plant thrives. 

"Whether used in bouquets, floral arrangements, or simply enjoyed in the garden, the sweet pea's intoxicating fragrance will surely leave a lasting impression."

Sweet Pea 'High Scent' seeds are available at Sarah Raven.

4. Phlox

Purple phlox flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images | Ali Majdfar)

"Night phlox is a compact alpine that produces masses of little snowflake-like flowers that open fully in the evening, emitting a sweet heady fragrance."

It is a perfect choice for those who love to entertain in the garden on balmy summer evenings. The fragrance could be the much-needed aroma to counterbalance the smokey aftermath of hosting BBQs or using the outdoor kitchen space.

"Ideal for a pathway or container, plant in a social spot where you and your guests can take in the aroma," Julian advises. "The fragrance builds up as the day goes on and reaches a high at dusk making it great for evening barbecues or light night drinks."

Mr Fothergills Night Phlox Midnight Candy seeds available at British Garden Centres

5. Nicotiana

Pink Tobacco plant flower

(Image credit: Getty Images | Michael Phillips)

"The plant, also known as the tobacco plant, is a fragrant garden gem and a long-flowering annual," Julian explains. Majestic and mysterious, it produces large clusters of tubular flowers that bloom at night, emitting a wonderful lily-like fragrance until the sun rises again."

The strongly scented flowers come in a riot of pink, red, lilac, and mauve shades, creating colourful spires of magnificent blooms during the day to make a bold statement for beds, borders and containers.

Half-hardy annual potted Nicotiana 'Eau de Cologne Mixed' available at Thompson & Morgan.

6. Viburnum

Viburnum plant up close

(Image credit: Getty Images | Rosmarie Wirz)

"The viburnum plant is known for its delightful fragrance, which combines sweet, spicy, and slightly musky notes to create a unique and captivating sensory experience," Julian explains.

It is best positioned near a path or at the front of a border to experience and enjoy the intoxicating spring scent fully.

But it's also a great plant choice to be enjoyed beyond the confinements of spring As Julian explains: "Additionally, it offers further interest with ornamental fruits, evergreen foliage, or deciduous foliage that turns into beautiful autumn colours."

Container plants of Viburnum tinus Eve Price are available at

7. Dianthus

Pink Dianthus flower

(Image credit: Getty Images | Albert Fertl)

"Dianthus, also known as pinks, is a lovely fragrant perennial that can be used as a low floral addition at the front of the border or in containers."

These best container plants come in pink, white, and red flowers, "providing an enriching and spicy scent that pollinators love," says Julian.  Mr Fothergill's Dianthus Hollandia Mixed seeds available at British Garden Centres.

"As they are compact plants, they can be the perfect addition to pots due to their small size and can be accommodated in even the tiniest plot." Worth considering as a small garden essential.

Some of my personal RHS Chelsea Flower Show highlights from 2024 were the gardens that celebrated sensory design, using both colour and alluring scents to create a greater impact on all the senses.

As these plants prove similar to making a house smell good it can often be the simple things that make all the difference.

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.