VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

What annuals do I choose for a fragrance garden?

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association


What annuals do I choose for a fragrance garden?


There are so many excellent choices amongst annuals for beautifully fragrant flowers it is hard to list them all, but we will try to introduce a few favorites that we are familiar with and are easy to grow.  One of the best things about many fragrant annuals is deer do not like them and here on the island that is a very important quality!

Milner Gardens FAQ Nicotania

We will start with Nicotania, also known as flowering tobacco. It comes in a large variety of colours. Its sweet scent is most noticeable in the evening, making for enjoyable evenings in the garden. Deer resistant Nicotania grows in full sun and part shade.  You should deadhead it to promote bloom.

Probably our favorite annual for scent is the Heliotrope, whose scent has been described as cherry-almond-vanilla.  They are drought and heat tolerant and deer do not like them (at least in our experience).  Heliotrope does best in full sun, but tolerates some shade, and does not require deadheading.

Milner Gardens FAQ Lathyrus odoratus

Lathyrus odoratus or sweet peas are an easy to grow vine that smells wonderful.  Be sure to purchase a variety that is scented as some of the new cultivars have no fragrance.  They thrive in cool weather so they can be one of the first annuals you plant out.  Most will grow to 5' or 6' in height, so they need to be planted where they have something to climb, although there are some bush cultivars available. Dead head them regularly to encourage continuous blooms.

Some other fragrant annuals to consider are Matthiola or stocks, Nemesia, Verbena, Lobularia maritima or sweet alyssum (alyssum in vegetable gardens attracts beneficial insects), and Petunias

For an unusual scent Pelargonium citrosum or citronella geranium may not be considered by some to be a pleasing scent but we really enjoy the citrusy smell, not to mention the mosquito deterrent qualities! 

Photos courtesy Wanda Brenton.

For gardening questions in the growing season, contact the Gardening Advice Line.