7 Flowers People With Amazing-Smelling Backyards are Planting Now — 'They Turn Your Space Into a Fragrant Haven!'

Plant a selection of these intoxicatingly perfumed flowers for a beautifully scented spring and summer garden

A garden bed full of colorful flowers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Who doesn't love wandering through a backyard filled with fragrant blooms? Scented flowers are highly sought after, both for the home and the garden, and add a certain joie de vivre to everyday living. Many scented flowers are easy to grow so you can create your own perfumed outdoor space, plus of course, you will have a regular supply of stems to fill your home with, too. 

With the right choice of plants, it's easy to fill your modern garden with sweet-smelling blooms right through spring and summer, doubling the pleasure of time spent in the outdoors. Plant them where their pillowy scents will drench the air, in pots and containers by the front door, along paths and walkways where you can brush your fingers through them as you walk by, or near windows so the scent will waft gently in on the breeze.

The other good thing about scented flowers is that they tend to look beautiful, too. This means they'll enhance your backyard in more ways than one, as you'll see here from our expert selection of the seven flowers people with nice-smelling backyards are planting now.

1. Gardenia

white gardenia flowers

(Image credit: Future)

Grown for their attractive glossy foliage and highly scented waxy white flowers, gardenia are guaranteed to introduce an extra special touch to your scented garden. They bloom in late spring and early summer, then repeat flower again in late summer and early fall, so they are a good investment if you're looking for longevity in the scent department. 

Gardenia are an upright, dense, evergreen shrub that fits in anywhere. The glossy dark green leaves look lovely year-round in your landscape. They can be planted in fall or spring, and like well-drained, acidic soil.

As they have one of the most intoxicating floral scents, it's natural that pollinators want to flock to these blooms. Interestingly, gardenia releases its cool, fresh fragrance both day and night, but it's more intense at night, which makes it a great choice to add to the spot in your backyard where you gravitate to in the evening.

2. Rose

pink 'Gertrude Jekyll' rose

'Gertrude Jekyll' rose

(Image credit: David Austin Roses)

Every garden, however small, should have at least one scented rose and there are plenty of different fragrances to choose from. These range from citrusy or fruity notes to floral, tea, myrrh and musk. Roses are renowned for their delicious fragrances, however some varieties are much more fragrant than others. 

'It's hard to ignore the versatility in the genus Rosa,' says Liam Beddall, senior rose consultant at David Austin Roses. 'From fruity fragrances with hints of guavas and lychees to the heady perfume of the Old Rose, there really is a rose for every position. For the fragrance aficionado, there are also heavy rose perfumes that hang on the air.'  

If you love the idea of a strong old-fashioned scent, choose a classic like 'Gertrude Jekyll'. Meanwhile try 'Boscobel' for a medium-strong, myrrh scent, or 'Vanessa Bell' for a tea-like fragrance. All are available from David Austin Roses and are great options to start a flower garden.

3. Phlox

pink phlox flower

(Image credit: Chris Bosworth/Alamy Stock Photo)

One of summer's most fragrant and showy flowers, phlox bears big clusters of magenta, reddish-pink, lilac or white blooms on tall stems from mid to late summer. The sweet, heady scent is particularly strong on warm, sunny days. 

'Phlox is an essential component of a high-summer flower garden that is a treat both for you and for visiting butterflies and bees,' says plant expert Jenny Rose Carey, author of The Ultimate Flower Gardener's Guide. 'It holds its bold clusters of flowers high above surrounding plants, releasing a remarkable sweet fragrance that lingers in the warm air.'

You can plant phlox in spring or fall, as long as the soil is warm and moist. Plants can be divided every few years to gradually form large clumps, perfect for dramatic landscaping.

4. Sweet peas

sweet pea flowers

(Image credit: Clive Nichols/Getty Images)

'Sweet peas have an intoxicating fragrance, gorgeous delicate tendrils, and a beautiful, romantic flower form,' says flower expert Lisa Mason Ziegler of The Gardeners Workshop. 'There are several types of sweet peas, some with larger blooms, others with more fragrance.'

Blooming from spring to early summer, sweet peas are known for being one of the most fragrant flowers you can add to your yard. They love to scramble over a shapely obelisk or archway and the more you pick them the more they flower, making them a real favorite if you love the idea of a cut flower garden to pick fragrant blooms for your home.

Lisa recommends the variety 'Enigma' with its marbled pink blooms and strong fragrance, as well as spring flowering 'High Scent', which has white flowers with lavender tips and is highly fragrant, and 'Royal Mix', with highly fragrant pink flowers in purple, red, pink and white.

5. Stocks

red, pink and purple stock flowers

(Image credit: Debora Truax/Getty Images)

This spicy-sweet smelling annual flower is one of the most strongly scented plants there is, with a delicious perfume like cloves. The flowery spires comes in strong shades of pink, purple, and red, as well as softer tones of apricot, lemon and cream if you prefer a more pastel color palette.

Stocks are a cottage garden classic that work well in garden borders and pots, with an old-fashioned feel that adds delicacy to flower schemes. It's one of the stars of the cutting garden too, so it's ideal for indoor flower displays. 

'Stocks are an excellent cut flower with a spicy-sweet, clove-like scent,' says Lisa Mason Ziegler.' She recommends the 'Katz' variety, which has a range of pastel and jewel tones, and plenty of double blooms. There are also varieties of night-scented stock, similarly gorgeously fragranced, which give off a strong sweet perfume in late evening, making them extremely attractive to moths. 

Stocks thrive in cool temperatures, so it's best to plant them out in spring. If you pinch out the top as they grow this will encourage more flower spires.

6. Nicotiana

Nicotiana alata with green flowers

(Image credit: Cristina Ionescu/Getty Images)

Nicotiana will fill flower beds with a strong, sweet fragrance all summer long and right into fall, and the scent is most pronounced at night. Although they look lovely during the day, tobacco flowers really come into their own in the evening, when they release their fragrance to attract nocturnal pollinators such as moths.

Not all species of nicotiana (also known as flowering tobacco) are scented. 'Choose flowering tobaccos by plant height, flower size, color and fragrance,' says Jenny Rose Carey. Petite Nicotiana alata is a great choice if you are short of space and want to create a container display. 

One of the most highly scented tobacco plants you can grow is Nicotiana alata 'Grandiflora', which has delicate creamy-white flowers. It comes in a range of colors, from pure white to hot pink, plus the vivid lime green that's so on trend, particularly if you love a cool palette of green and white in your yard.

7. Oriental lilies

'Black Beauty' lily flowers

'Black Beauty'

(Image credit: Alex Manders/Getty Images)

With their multiple flowers per stem and exotic good looks, lilies are the glamor queens of the scented garden. There are so many to choose from, including a multitude of colors and bi-colors in all the usual brights and pastels, that selecting a cultivar by strength of fragrance is a good way to narrow the field.

There are three main groups of lilies and not all are scented. Look out for oriental hybrid lilies that are colorful and highly scented. Some Longiflorum Asiatic hybrids are also scented but avoid Asiatic hybrids, which are unscented.

I love the fragrant oriental lily 'Black Beauty', which is an outstanding variety with its elegant recurved petals in dark, inky crimson, and prominent anthers. Plant a group of three to five bulbs together in the garden in spring and look forward to an eye-catching display from midsummer onwards. This variety will thrive in a container garden too.

If you want to turn your outdoor space into a fragrant haven this season, plant a selection of these flowers for a sweet-smelling yard that the neighbors will envy.

Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about flowers, plants, and garden design and trends since 2015. Having already studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently adding to her list of qualifications with an RHS Level 2 course in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development. In addition to livingetc.com, she's also written for homesandgardens.com, gardeningetc.com, Modern Gardens and Country Homes & Interiors magazines.