Government of New Brunswick

Agdex No. 276.36

Fragrant shrubs combine their natural floral and foliage beauty with an attractive scent that enhances any location. It is therefore important to place a fragrant shrub where the fragrance can be enjoyed such as near a patio, close to windows, etc. Shrubs are usually most aromatic when they are in bloom so several fragrant shrubs should not be in bloom at the same time or the full effect of each of the shrubs cannot be appreciated.

To bring the fragrance indoors gardeners may wish to use cut flowers from their shrubs. Because the stems of shrubs are woody, the flowers will not last unless the cut stem is crushed or deeply scarred and immediately submerged in warm water for several hours before arranging. Flowers gathered on a cold day will become fragrant once they have warmed to room temperature.

The following shrubs are hardy to the zone indicated and are relatively insect and disease free.

  • Calycanthus floridus (Carolina Allspice) zone 5 (1.2-2.4m). These shrubs bloom in mid-May with large reddish brown flowers. The flowers leaves and twigs all have a sweet fragrance.

  • Clematis paniculata (Sweet Autumn Clematis) zone 5. This vine develops a display of fragrant white flowers in August followed by fluffy seed heads in autumn. It is one of the most dependable clematis.

  • Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet) zone 4 (0.9-2.4m). The very fragrant white or pink blooms of this shrub are borne on spikes in July. The foliage has excellent yellow to orange color in the fall.

  • Daphne burkwoodi (Burkwood Daphne) zone 5 (1.2m). Small, creamy white to flushed pink flowers that develop in May produce the fragrance for this shrub. Red berries add autumn color to the plant.

  • Daphne mezereum (February Daphne) zone 3 (1m). The very fragrant rosy purple flowers of this Daphne appear in April before the leaves expand and are followed in June by brilliant scarlet berries.

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive) zone 2b (6m). The small, yellow, very fragrant flowers of the Russian Olive develop in June and provide an interesting contrast to the narrow, gray-green leaves of the tree.

  • Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian Honeysuckle) zone 3 (3m) are a dependable, vigorous shrubs that have very fragrant pink to white flowers in spring followed by red or yellow berries.

  • Malus spp. (Flowering Crab Apple) zone 4 (10m). Ornamental crab trees have lovely scented flowers in many shades from deep pink to white and colourful attrctive fruit in the fall.

  • Pieris floribunda (Mountain Andromeda) zone 5 (1-2m). This elegant, broadleaf, evergreen shrub produces upright clusters of small, white, fragrant flowers in very early spring.

  • Philidelphus spp. (Mock Orange) zone 4 (1.5-2m) These easy to grwo shrubs have attractive white flowers in late spring and are one of the most fragrant shrubs.

  • Rhododendron arborescens (Sweet Azalea) zone 4 (3m). This deciduous azalea blooms with very fragrant white flowers in mid-June and has fall foliage in an elegant glossy red color.

  • Rhododendron viscosum (Swamp Azalea) zone 3 (3m). A very fragrant, native, white flowering azalea, the swamp azalea blooms in early July after the leaves have fully expanded and has good orange to bronze fall leaf color.

  • Rosa sp. (Shrub Roses) zone (1-3m) Many of the hardy vigorous shrub roses have fragrant blooms. These roses are available in many colours and bloom at various times throughout the season.

  • Syringa spp. (French and Chinese Hybrid Lilacs) zone 4 (3-4m). Lilacs are well known shrubs that bloom in late May with white, pink or violet flowers and have a lovely very distinctive fragrance.

  • Viburnum carlesii (Fragrant Viburnum) zone 5 (1.5m). The sweet fragrance of the pinkish flowers that appear very early in the spring make this a favorite shrub and the blue-black fruit add color to the garden in early summer.

  • Viburnum carlcephalum (Fragrant Snowball) zone 5 (1.8-3m). Fragrant, rounded flower heads and glossy foliage make this shrub an attractive addition to the garden.