Roses, violets, gardenia, wisteria, jasmine, lilac, honeysuckle … There are many flowers that have a wonderful aroma and sweeten our senses when we breathe near them. But flowers are not the only part of a plant with a pleasant smell. The leaves, thanks to the essential oils they contain, also have a delicious fragrance and can fill the garden air with perfumes. Today we bring you some examples of very fragrant plants even when they don’t have flowers.
A simple touch or the rocking of the breeze on these plants causes a multitude of olfactory notes to be released.
Scented Geraniums / Smell Geranium / Pelargoniums
We have always called them scented geraniums (or smell geraniums), but the correct genus is Pelargonium spp. and another common name, perhaps more appropriate, “pelargonium”. The flowers of these aromatic varieties do not have large and showy flowers such as pelargoniums or garden geraniums, but their leaves are incredibly fragrant and that makes them very valuable in the garden.
There are more than 140 varieties of scented leaf pelargoniums. You can find pelargoniums with leaves that smell like lemon, lime, rose, apricot, oak, lavender, mint, nutmeg, strawberry or ginger. I don’t know them all, but I have a lemon smell that also says it scares off mosquitoes. First of all, I attest, it smells great! But of the second, not so much. Too many mosquitoes. Anyway, place one of these plants somewhere in the garden where you can touch them or touch them to release the fragrance and you will see what delight.
Pelargoniums are very easy to care for if they have sun and fresh soil with good drainage. They are resistant plants that tolerate dry soil, so you should let the soil dry well between waterings. The bush grows rapidly and it is very simple to reproduce them by cuttings. Root easily in ordinary potting soil.
Aromatic herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, etc)
There are many herbs and shrubs with aromatic leaves. They are very popular as a culinary seasoning and almost all have beneficial properties for humans. Some have therapeutic properties, others are used as an ingredient in cosmetic products. And all this is due to its essential oils, also its good smell.
Plants as popular as rosemary, thyme or lavender are great options for an aromatic garden. The narrow leaves of rosemary ( Rosmarinus Angustifolia ) have a delicious aroma that is familiar to all of us. Its small bluish flowers are very attractive to bees and other pollinators.
The thyme ( Thymus spp.) It is another aromatic plant and spreading variety ( Thymus serpyllumes ) is an excellent Cobertura of soil that releases its odor whenever someone walks on it. There are eight different species with different perfumes: common thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ) smells like lemon and is the main culinary and medicinal species; Lemon thyme ( Thymus × citriodorus), also gives off citrus smell; Azores thyme ( Thymus caespititius ) is more reminiscent of the aroma of orange.
Laurel foliage ( Laurus nobilis ) works very well in a fragrance garden. It looks like a shrub, but it can become a tree 10 meters high if the ground is deep and is not pruned. In our garden, there are a couple of copies for many years, but we cut them each season to give the rounded shape of the photos. The aromatic leaves we clean and let dry to use in the kitchen.
The surroundings of a lemon tree, when in bloom, are filled with an intoxicating fragrance. The fruits and essential oils of the leaves also give off a fresh lemon aroma. If you do not have the possibility of growing a lemon tree, you can get an almost identical smell with plants that have chemical compounds in their leaves that produce that citrus essence.
The Hierbaluisa ( Aloysia triphylla ) is very popular in gardening for its appearance and the intense citrus aroma of its leaves. It is also used in the perfumery, to bring fresh notes to perfumes. In the kitchen, it is also very popular to flavor lemon desserts and marinades. It is also a plant with soothing and toning properties that can be used preparing infusions with its leaves.
Citronella and Lemongrass
Both citronella (Cymbopogon nardus ), like lemongrass or lemongrass ( Cymbopogon citratus), have an intense lemony aroma, hence their names. They are very fragrant plants whose essential oil is used as a natural insect repellent and in aromatherapy for skincare. They also have therapeutic applications and are used to prepare digestive herbal teas.
The Melissa officinalis there who calls lemon balm and lemongrass who called precisely because of its strong citrus scent. It is a lively plant that develops lignified creeping stems from which branches that can measure between 50 and 80 cm tall come out. The flowers are small, almost insignificant, but very rich in nectar that in summer attracts pollinating insects.
The catnip mint ( catnip ‘Citriodora’) is a famous herb for its effect on cats, but also useful in the kitchen. It belongs to the mint family and produces beautiful lavender flowers from late spring to autumn. The aroma between menthol and citrus from its leaves is very attractive for nocturnal and diurnal butterflies, as well as for bees.
Plants with a pleasant smell
Almost all the varieties of sage ( Salvia spp.) I know are very fragrant plants, with leaves that give off a very fresh smell just by brushing them. La Salvia officinalis is the most common and generally used for cooking by the rich aroma that gives the dishes.
For me, the most pleasant aroma is that of Salvia microphylla. Its fragrance is similar to that of S. Officinalis but more fruity. This variety of sage is very easy to reproduce and I have spread them through every corner of my garden. In a temperate climate, such as the Mediterranean, they bloom incessantly from spring to autumn. In winter they get dates because they lose flowers and many leaves. Then I cut them to a height of about 15 cm so that new branches grow next season and have a green, rejuvenated and fresh appearance again.
La Salvia “Hot Lips” is a hybrid ( Salvia x James is ‘Hot Lips’) that produces large flowers, red and white bicolor, which seem an open mouth. It blooms throughout the summer and if the weather is very hot some flowers can be completely red or white. The sage is perfect for planting near a road or a bank, to enjoy their beautiful flowers and fragrant foliage up close. The flowers are extremely attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Many different lavender taxa ( Lavandula spp.) Have been classified and described, all of which are plants that have been used since ancient times as ornamentals and to extract their aromatic essences. Lavender ( L. Angustifolia ) is one of the most used species both for its pleasant smell and for how beneficial lavender essential oil is. But there are many and they all smell very good: L. dentata, L. stoechas, and L. pedunculata, etc. Therefore, the essence of lavender is used in perfumery. Imagine how good it smells in the garden.
There are more than 100 species of lantanas, but I know a couple of them well. Both Lantana Camara (erect), and Lantana montevidensis (creeping plant), have leaves that, when touched, give off a powerful citrus aroma. They are perennial shrubs, very resistant, vigorous and very floriferous that should be controlled so that they are not invasive. They like the sun, well-drained soils and moderate watering by scarce.
There are many more aromatic foliage plants and surely you know some others. We will love to meet you.