Top 5 Shrubs For Fragrance

Fragrance is an important aspect of any landscape. Fragrance is very powerful, and research shows that scent is linked to memory more than any of the other senses. I still have powerful memories of the lilacs in my mother’s back yard. Fragrant perennials and shrubs help bring your landscape to another level. When selecting plants for your landscape, incorporate some fragrance. Here are just a few shrubs to get you thinking about fragrance.

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus), also referred to as Carolina Allspice, is a shrub with a

Fragrant Shrub Carolina Allspice

spicy fragrance. This is a large shrub well suited for the back of the garden when you’re picking plants. It has attractive glossy foliage and comes with flower colors of either a dark red, or white. These shrubs bloom throughout the summer. Their fragrance depends a bit on the age of the flower, and also whose smelling them. To me they smell like vanilla spice, but I’ve also heard them referred to as “The Bubblegum Shrub” because they can also smell like bubblegum.

Summersweet Pepperbush (Clethra) is a fabulous shrub for any garden.

Fragrant shrub Summersweet Pepperbush

Tolerant to a wide variety of light conditions from sun to shade, this is a go-to for me. This native shrub has a spicy-sweet fragrance and long, white flowers. It’s a long-blooming, easy to care for shrub that’s a good choice for the summer garden. It comes with long flower stems in either pink varieteis (‘Ruby Spice’) or white (‘Vanilla Spice’, or ‘Hummingbird’).


Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is a knockout. Lilacs get all the credit for spring color and fragrance, but Korean Spice deserves much wider recognition than it

Fragrant Korean Spice Viburnum in the landscape

gets. This spring blooming viburnum offers multiple clusters of deep rose colored buds that open to a creamy pink. This shrub has an intoxicating fragrance that’s unlike any other. For fragrance, this shrub is my favorite. Korean Spice Viburnum was once restricted to large areas due to it’s size. There is another, smaller variety, ‘Spice Baby’, which is a dwarf size that’s perfect for the middle of the garden or smaller spaces. This is a shrub that deserves a place in your garden.

Fragrant shrub Sugar Shack Button Bush

Sugar Shack Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a unique shrub that’s not often seen in the garden, but deserves greater attention. This native shrub is covered with unique white flowers in mid-summer that emit a honey-like fragrance. ‘Sugar shack’ is a smaller variety of the original wild forms. After the flowers fade, red fruit emerges to continue the show and entice the backyard birds.


Lilac. Of course a fragrant shrub list wouldn’t be complete without lilac. I just didn’t want to mention this first so I could get you thinking outside the box and make you

Fragrant Shrub Lilac

aware of some other fragrant shrubs that also deserve a little attention. Pictured here is ‘Scentara Double Blue’ lilac by Proven Winners. Although all lilacs are beautiful, not all are fragrant so it’s important to find out the information about your shrub before you purchase it. If fragrance is what you’re looking for, your nose should be able to help you out.

With the right planning, you can have a garden filled with fragrance.

Photos courtesy of Prides Corner Farm

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