My Top Perfumed Plants for Sub-Tropical Gardens

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Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

I was reading a blog article the other day about the Top 10 Perfumed plants to grow in your garden. Now I knew, even as I clicked on the link, that I was probably going to be disappointed at the plants listed. Sadly I wasn’t wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the perfumed plants listed. They were just sooo boringly Bog standard! First of all, there are just so many beautiful perfumed plants that you need never live without fragrance in your garden.

Consequently, I decided that I would compile my own list of the Top 10 perfumed plants in my garden. My first problem was, of course, to limit the list to 10 favourites!

I decided that if I only looked at shrubs this would be easier. Not quite!

Similarly, I decided to try and limit it to shrubs that grew in the sub-tropics, and notably my garden. This means I have to remove Lilacs and Peonies from the list as, sadly, these will not grow in the sub-tropics. Believe me, I’ve tried!

Finally, I got the list down to my top 21 favourite perfumed plants.

I’m sure others will probably disagree, as I did with the blog that I read, but I hope you find something that makes you think “I must get one of those for my garden”!

Camellia

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Sweet Emily Kate

All camellias produce the most beautiful, perfect flowers that look almost fake they are so perfect, but sadly few of them are perfumed plants. I have two beautiful perfumed camellias in my garden. Sweet Emily Kate has delightful double pink blooms that are borne freely on the shrub over winter and perfume the whole garden. I have under-planted this with Fairy Blush, which has single pale pink fragrant flowers that cover the bush.

Citrus

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Lemon citrus flower

All citrus plants have the most exquisite perfume when they are in flower. The bonus is that you also get fruit from the flowers when they have been pollinated. Choose from the lemony scents of lemon trees or the orange or lime scents. They really smell like the fruit they later produce.

Coco (Michelia)

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Sweet Coco

Closely related to magnolias, Coco is an attractive plant, with beautiful pure white blooms that smell a bit like sweet bananas. The buds are a furry brown and look insignificant until they burst open with the pure white flowers. Everything I have read says that this plant has a slight perfume but I would disagree as it easily perfumes my garden when in flower.

Daphne

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Daphne

When I first moved to the sub-tropics, I tried to grow Daphne as I had always had it in my garden growing up in the ACT. It didn’t like the sub-tropics and would generally die within a year or two. They have now released a Daphne that loves full sun and grows well in the sub-tropics. I have two growing in my garden and both have produced the customary gorgeous perfumed flowers.

Frangipani

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Frangipani

Growing up in the ACT where Frangipani will not live, I always appreciated visits to the cousins in Sydney where I would pick as many Frangipani flowers as I could to take home. Sadly the flowers are short-lived but living in the sub-tropics has allowed me to grow several different Frangipani from the classic white with its yellow throat, through to the blood red, hot pink and apricot-yellow flowering cultivars. The bonus is they grow happily in pots so you can keep the size down.

 

Gardenia

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Florida Gardenia

I love Gardenias, though I am puzzled by the number of websites that label them difficult to grow. They are my go-to plant for difficult locations and I have everything from the ground covering Gardenia radicans, to the medium shrub Florida and the larger Grandiflora and Professor Pucci. Gardenias can suffer attack by scale, with the attendant black sooty mold, but this is easily controlled using Eco-pest oil and Neem oil.

Heaven Lotus tree (Gustavia superba)

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Heavenly Lotus flower

I picked this plant up just because it said it was perfumed and all I knew was that it came from the Brazilian rainforests. It took 6 years for it to flower but it was well worth the wait. The flowers look like a lotus, hence the common name of Heaven Lotus tree. New leaves are a lovely deep pink and it loves its position as an understorey plant under two large magnolias. I am currently trying to propagate it from seed.

 

Heliotrope

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Heliotrope Cherry Pie

The Heliotrope plant is one of those plants that are easy to overlook. When my friend Alice first recommended I get one for my perfumed garden I was a bit underwhelmed. The Heliotrope plant didn’t look anything special at all, and then I smelled the beautiful strong vanilla perfume. It only grows to about 30 cm tall, grows best in full sun and well-drained soil, so it is an easy shrub to find a home for. Plus, it’s easy to propagate from cuttings.

Henna

 

Henna Blossoms would have to be one of the most insignificant looking flowers that I have ever seen, but they are so fragrant that they have been used in the perfume industry since time immemorial.  Thanks to the hot dry summer we had, my Henna plants has consented to flower for me this year. Sadly it doesn’t flower every year and will not grow well outside the tropics and sub-tropics, but is worth finding a place in your garden for the exquisite perfume produced by the flowers.

Lady of the Night

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Lady of the Night

This is a much less common variety of Brunfelsia (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) and is known as Lady of the Night because its perfume only comes out at night. It smells a bit like jasmine but with undertones of cloves, spice powder and cinnamon. Instead of colouring from violet and fading to lavender and then white, the Lady of the Night starts white and colours to lemon and then gold. Not commonly available in nurseries but worth seeking out.

Magnolia

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Little Gem Magnolia

There are so many beautiful varieties of Magnolia and all of them are perfumed. I love my Little Gem (so-called cause it only grows to 5 metres high!). It has the most beautiful massive cream flowers that are delightfully perfumed. I also have the highly fragrant Joy perfume tree (Magnolia champaca) and the deep pink Soulangeana Magnolias that are not supposed to grow in the sub-tropics.

Mock Orange

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Philadelphus Mock Orange

There are several plants known by the common name of mock orange, including plants of the murraya family and the philadelphus family. I grew up in a cold climate with the philadelphus “Mock Orange” and I prefer this to the murraya, which I find too strongly perfumed. Therefore I am really pleased that a philadelphus is growing and flowering well in my sub-tropical garden.

Native Frangipani

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Native Frangipani

I don’t have a lot of native plants in my garden, primarily because I have difficulty growing them! The native frangipani is an exception and it has beautiful perfumed flowers that start out whitish cream and age to deep yellow. It has a mix of white and yellow flowers all at the same time and this gives a lovely display. The flowers are perfumed a bit like a frangipani hence its common name.

PawPaw

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Male PawPaw flower

Most people grow Pawpaw trees for their fruit. To do this you need either a female tree or a bisexual tree which self-pollinates. However, I love the perfume of the flowering male Pawpaw tree. It took me quite a long time to track down a male pawpaw, as most nurseries sell the bisexual trees these days and the flowers of these are not perfumed! As a reward, my male Pawpaw even gave me some fruit last year, although I still value it most for the gorgeous perfumed flowers.

Port Wine Magnolia

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Port Wine Magnolia

Port wine magnolias are one of those really hardy shrubs that require very little attention, fill in gaps, stay green and glossy and reward you with highly perfumed flowers throughout the year. Although they look and smell quite delicate I have managed to grow them in gardens with heavy frost right through to tropical gardens. I have several residing in my sub-tropical garden where they provide a great privacy screen from passing traffic.

Roses

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Black Boy Rose

No list of perfumed plants would be complete without roses! They were my dad’s favourite flower and for that reason alone deserve a place in my garden. My favourites are the beautiful deep red Papa Meilland, the aptly named Father’s Love and the supreme Double Delight. I always try and include a Cecile Brunner rose in my garden as this tiny, thornless climbing rose was the first rose that I fell in love with as a child.

Star Jasmine

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Star Jasmine

Although more a climber than a shrub, I have trained my star jasmine into a low growing shrub. It is definitely the best behaved of all the jasmines and rewards with delightful perfumed flowers that can cover the whole bush and perfume the whole garden. The variegated plant is a fabulous ground cover but doesn’t flower as prolifically.

Stephanotis

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Stephanotis

One of the benefits of living in the sub-tropics is being able to grow Stephanotis or Madagascar jasmine in your garden. This plant is an evergreen climber that has shaped itself into a shrub over a climbing trellis. It produces clusters of white, powerfully-scented, bell-shaped flowers throughout the year. The native bees love it so every year I am rewarded with several seed pods that look a little like avocados but filled with white feathery seeds. It grows easily from seed.

Sweet Osmanthus

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Sweet Osmanthus

Sweet Osmanthus is one of those really low care shrubs that flowers pretty much throughout the year in the sub-tropics. Flowers are tiny, cream coloured and borne in clusters along the stem. The fragrance smells of sweetly spiced apricots and you can smell the flowers from several metres. As a result, this plant really deserves to be better known. It grows well in most climates in Australia and even copes with frost! I like it so much I have 5 shrubs growing in my garden.

Tropical Daphne

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Tropical Daphne

While I was on my quest to try and grow the traditional Daphne (daphne odorata) in the sub-tropics, I stumbled across the tropical or sweet daphne (Phaleria clerodendron). It is a rainforest tree that grows well in the sub-tropics and when rain is expected it will send out fragrant white flowers all along its trunk. The flowers have a pineapple, coconut fragrance with just a hint of spice. While it is a lovely plant in its own right, I personally would not call it a Daphne.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

 

Top 21 perfumed plants for your sub-tropical garden

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’s common name comes from the fact that its flowers open up a deep purple colour and slowly fade to lilac with a white ‘eye’, then soften to white. All three coloured blossoms will be on the tree at the same time, giving it both colour and perfume. It grows well in pots as well as in the ground. In pots it generally stays to about a metre in height but will grow up to 4 metres in the ground.

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Well you have heard what my favourite perfumed plants are. I hope that you didn’t feel my selection was Bog standard! Therefore it is time for you to let me know what are your favourites perfumed plants in your garden? Leave them in the comments.

Happy Gardening!

 

Rohanne, your Personal Garden ExpertSave[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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