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12 Fragrant Annual Flowers

While we want our gardens to be visually attractive, the best landscapes appeal to all five senses. Plant your garden with wonderfully fragrant annual flowers that you can enjoy this growing season, filling your porch or yard with beautiful colors and pleasing scents.

purple and white sweet alyssum flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

1. Lemon beebalm (Monarda citriodora)

purple bee balm flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

The striking pink flowers of lemon beebalm bloom in unique interrupted clusters interspersed along square stems from spring through midsummer. Both the flowers and the foliage have a refreshing, lemony scent, and the tubular blossoms attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

A native annual or biennial lemon beebalm prefers good drainage and full sun. In ideal conditions, it will happily reseed.

2. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

Flowering tobacco.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Opening only at night, the fragrant, showy blossoms of flowering tobacco attract moths and other nocturnal pollinators to the moonlit garden. These tubular flowers come in shades of yellow, white, and red and bloom on three- to five-foot plants. Make sure to acquire the true species, as the hybrids lack scent.

Flowering tobacco requires moist, organically rich soil with good drainage in full to part sun.

3. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

white sweet alyssum flowers.
Image Credit: Depositphotos

Tiny, honey-scented blossoms cover sweet alyssum from spring until fall, though they may fade in the heat of summer. This low-growing plant works well massed in borders or between stepping stones, and its profuse flowers attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Sweet alyssum grows in full to part sun and requires excellent soil drainage.

4. Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Although commonly grown as a companion plant in the vegetable garden, the humble marigold has vibrant flowers, attractive foliage, and a wonderful spicy floral scent. The various species and cultivars available average one to four feet tall and range in color from yellow to deep red-orange.

Though they tolerate light shade, most marigolds will thrive in just about any well-drained soil and will bloom best in full sun. Learn more about growing marigolds.

5. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

a field of chamomile flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Perhaps best known as a calming herbal tea, chamomile produces masses of small, fragrant, daisy-like flowers with white petals and bright yellow centers all summer long. This one- to two-foot plant also has lovely ferny foliage and works well in rock gardens, cottage gardens, or along walkways or seating areas where its fragrance may be enjoyed.

Chamomile prefers full to part sun and good drainage.

6. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

basil in the garden.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

A common herb in the vegetable garden, basil has a pungent, mouthwatering aroma. Many varieties also send up beautiful flower spikes in shades of white or contrasting purple. ‘Dark Opal’ has deep purple foliage and purple flowers, while ‘Queen of Sheba’ features purple spikes against bright green foliage.

Basil prefers moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Pinching it back will encourage bushier growth, and you can eat the trimmings! Check out these tips for growing basil.

7. Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)

deep purple Heliotropium arborescens.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

From summer until frost, heliotrope blooms with vanilla-scented clusters of tiny, purple to white flowers. These intoxicating blossoms are held above equally attractive rough, dark green leaves with prominent veins that give them a quilted appearance.

Heliotrope needs rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Though typically grown as an annual, it is a tender perennial in zones 9-10.

8. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

calendula flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Calendula, also called pot marigold, blooms in spring and summer with fragrant yellow, orange, or red disc-shaped flowers. These edible blossoms make excellent cut flowers and beautiful golden dye and are known for their healing properties.

Calendula prefers average, well-drained soil in full sun but appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summers.

9. Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

white-tipped purple petunias.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

A very popular bedding and container plant, the petunia is well-loved for its fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers that come in a rainbow of vivid colors, including bi-color options. It blooms continuously all summer, especially when deadheaded.

Petunia thrives just about anywhere, with well-drained soil and full to partial sun. This adaptable plant tolerates drought, poor soil, and shade.

Here are 13 eye-catching ideas for using petunias in the landscape.

10. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

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Named for its large, white, nocturnal flowers, moonflower graces the night air with its sweet fragrance and attracts nighttime moths. Grow this climbing vine up a trellis near a window, porch, patio, or other area where you can enjoy it in the evening hours.

Moonflower requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Though a perennial in zones 10-12, it is grown as an annual everywhere else.

11. Corkscrew vine (Vigna caracalla)

A tropical twining vine, corkscrew vine blooms in late summer and into fall. Its unique, curling flowers resemble snail shells and have a pleasant scent similar to that of hyacinths. As the white buds unfurl, they become a lovely purple-pink.

Plant corkscrew vine in rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun and provide it with vertical support. A perennial in zones 9-11, it can be overwintered indoors in colder regions or treated as an annual.

12. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)

nasturtium flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Nasturtium has fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers, often in shades of orange but also available in yellow, burgundy, or cream. The showy blooms and the attractive round leaves are edible and flower all season long.

Moist, well-drained soil in full sun, perhaps with some afternoon shade, is ideal, and nutrient-poor soil will result in the best blooms. Learn more about growing nasturtiums.

11 Fragrant Perennial Flowers For The Perfect Scented Garden

Super Trouper Lilac on Purple Dianthus flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Plant a few scented perennial flowers and enjoy a delightful breeze whenever you walk by your front door. Here are 11 heavenly-smelling perennial flowers.

The Most Fragrant Roses To Plant In Your Garden

beautiful pink roses with lots of buds.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Roses are a favorite of homeowners. A few fragrant roses placed by your front door or a window are all you need to enjoy their sweet fragrance all summer. Here are the most fragrant roses to try in your garden.

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Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.

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