Create a garden that smells fantastic.
Walking up a beautifully landscaped path is made more impressive when all your senses are invoked—including scent. "What's really interesting is that no two flowers can have the same scent because of the diversity of their compounds and their distinctive interactions," says Stephen McFarlane, regional landscaping manager of Sandals Resorts. "In addition to adding color and beauty to a garden, fragrant flowers can uplift a mood, increase levels of positivity, and reduce stress—essentially, aromatherapy."
Here are McFarlane's seven top picks for outdoor plants that smell amazing. An added bonus: many of these plants also attract wildlife, from birds to butterflies to bees, creating an elaborate ecosystem in your backyard.
Cape Jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides)
Consider the Cape jasmine, which grows as a large shrub with 3-inch fragrant flowers. This aromatic plant is best grown in acidic, consistently moist, well-drained soils. It can grow in full sun, but partial shade in the afternoons in hot climates is preferred. Be sure to use a fertilizer for this acid-loving plant during the growing season.
Zones: 8 to 11
Common Jasmine (Jasminum officianale)
A fast-growing climbing shrub with clusters of fragrant white flowers, the common jasmine thrives in full sun to part shade. The pleasing scent will strike you, even from several feet away. This plant needs moist, well-drained soil. Remember to prune older shoots after blooming to encourage new growth, which will produce new blooms.
Zones: 7 to 10
Frangipani (Plumeria sp.)
A gorgeous small tree with fragrant blooms that are used to make the iconic Hawaiian lei, the frangipani is a fragrant plant that prefers full sun and well-drained soil with deep, infrequent watering. This plant benefits from fertilizer with a formulation high in phosphorus.
Zones: 10 to 12
Ylang Ylang Tree (Cananga odorata)
A medium to large fast-growing tree, the ylang ylang tree produces incredibly fragrant blooms and is actually a key ingredient in the famed Chanel #5 perfume. This tree enjoys full sun with rich soil that doesn't dry out. Be sure to fertilize every 3 to 4 months.
Zones: 9 to 11
Butterfly Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium)
The perennial white butterfly ginger produces an appealing, spicy scent. The upright, rhizomatous plant prefers full sun to part shade with consistently moist to wet soil high in organic matter.
Zones: 7 to 11
Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata)
When you want to add a versatile plant to your collection, the orange jessamine is one that can be trained into a small tree or a clipped hedge. It performs best in morning sun and afternoon shade with a well-drained, rich soil. It will also benefit from a balanced fertilizer throughout the year.
Zones: 10 to 12
Night Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
Just as the name implies, the sweet, intoxicating fragrance of the night blooming jasmine is only released at night. It thrives in full sun to part shade with rich, well-drained soil. To care, provide regular water and a balanced fertilizer throughout the year. An annual pruning will help keep the foliage in check.
Zones: 9 to 11