Fragrance is my primary goal in the garden this year. Last year I’d show someone a flower and they would always try to smell it. With zinnias and dahlias, there is no scent. Unfortunately scent has been bred out of many flowers over the years. Plant breeders have decided the ability to ship long distances and last weeks in a vase are more important than scent.  I disagree. Local, slow flowers allow for fragrance AND freshness. Not being shipped long distances mean we’ll still get a decent vase life.

My goal this year is to have at least one type of flower with noticeable scent blooming throughout the season.


  • Tulips and Daffodils: I spent a good deal of time seeking out varieties that mentioned fragrance in their description. A few pots are in windows in my living room. This morning I saw two buds! I started them in the pots around Halloween and kept them in our attic which has been between 40-50F. Many many others are outside buried under 3-4″ of snow at the moment. Source:, Big Box Stores on Sale
  • Dianthus ‘Inchmery’: Usually called carnations at the florist, also known as pinks with gardeners. I have a rare one ordered that says it is their most fragrant antique pink. Blooms into summer. Source:
  • Mignonette ‘Machet’: Flowers don’t look gorgeous but are supposed to smell amazing. Good thing I’m selecting for scent. I know I will be able to mix them with other flowers that won’t have a scent to make a perfect arrangement. Blooms into summer. Source:
  • Icelandic Poppy ‘Champagne bubbles’: Bought a start last year from a local nursery and it was beautiful — don’t recall a scent. Going to try again. Source:
  • Sweet Pea ‘Mollie Rilestone’ and ‘Spring Sunshine’: Attempted this last year but started them too late. Going to give it one last shot. The few that bloomed last year smelled fantastic. Blooms into summer. Source:


  • Heliotrope ‘Sweet Heaven’: I’m not sure how this will hold up in our hot Chicago summers. Selected this variety because of the comment on that it held up well over a hot summer. Source:
  • Nasturtium ‘Golden Gleam’: Hope to use this as a foliage more than a cut flower. This variety said it had a pleasant scent.
  • Red Swallowwort: One word – vanilla. If this one smells like vanilla then the room it takes in the garden will be well worth it. Supposed to be a big plant at 4′ height x 3′ width. Great for butterflies! Source:
  • Tobacco ‘Cranberry Isles’: This one says it is scented at night. If I cut it at night will it retain its fragrance? Not sure but willing to find out. Source: