Flowers and shrubs with fragrant leaves


Flowers and shrubs that have fragrant leaves provide a seemingly unending scent. Most require "bruising" of the plant before scent is released. Bruising in this context means some part of the foliage, like a stem or leaf, is broken, pinched or clipped, like when pruning the plant. It's okay to pinch off a leaf or stem to enjoy the fragrance.

Shrubs with Fragrant Leaves
  • Southernwood (Artemisia arbrotanum) can reach a height of 3 feet and produces small, yellow flowers, but it's the dense bristle-like pale green foliage that offers a sweet fragrance. This deciduous shrub can grow in USDA zones 5 to 8.
  • Alpine Mint Bush (Prostanthera cuneata) is a 2 to 3 foot tall evergreen shrub in USDA zones 8 to 10. This shrub produces blooms in early summer. Bruising the foliage offers up a minty sweet fragrance.
  • Pepper Tree (Drimys lanceolata) is an evergreen shrub that can reach 10 feet in height and is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. Bruise a leaf to reveal a spicy, peppery fragrance.

Flowers with Fragrant Leaves
  • Geranium (Pelargonium), but not your typical garden center variety. Look for a Peolargonium geranium species like Graveolens, which can grow 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves, when pinched, emit a rose and lemon scent. Bring the geranium indoors in the winter unless you are in USDA zones 9 to 11 where the plant can remain outdoors year-round.
  • Lavender is perhaps the most well-known plant with fragrant leaves. Many varieties, including Lavandula stoechas and angustifolia, have highly fragrant blooms and stems. Lavender can grow 18 to 24 inches tall, is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, and prefers sunny, dry conditions.
  • Chives looks somewhat like grass until you see the blooms. The leaves of Allium tuberasum chives smell and taste like mild garlic and the plant produces blue blooms; the leaves of Allium schoenoprasum smell and taste like mild onion and the blooms are purple-pink color. Either chive is suitable for use in soups or on baked potatoes. Chives grow to about 18 inches tall and are cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10.
  • Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) is a bushy perennial in USDA zones 5 to 9. Growing up to 15 inches tall, calamint produces blue flowers for several weeks. Bruise the leaves of calamint to smell a spearmint fragrance.