Fragrance is an important aspect of a landscape. It’s powerful, and research shows that scent is linked to memory more than any of the other senses. In fact, I still have powerful memories of the lilacs in my mother’s backyard. So, I’ve compiled a few shrubs to get you thinking about fragrance in your own garden and landscape.

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus)

Also referred to as Carolina Allspice, sweetshrub has a 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. Blooming throughout the summer, their fragrance depends a bit on the age of the flower, and also whose smelling them. To me, they smell like a vanilla spice, but I’ve also heard them referred to as “The Bubblegum Shrub” because they smell like bubblegum.

Summersweet Pepperbush (Clethra)

A fabulous shrub for any garden, the Summersweet Pepperbush is 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 (ruby spice) or white (Sugartina, Vanilla Spice, or Hummingbird).

Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

Lilacs get all the credit for spring color and fragrance, but Korean Spice is a knowout and deserves much wider recognition than it gets. This spring blooming viburnum offers clusters of deep rose colored buds that open to a creamy pink. This shrub has an intoxicating fragrance that’s unlike any other. Once restricted to large areas due to it’s size, Spice Baby is a dwarf size that’s perfect for the middle of the garden or smaller spaces.

Sugar Shack Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

A unique shrub that’s not often seen in the garden is Sugar Shack Button Bush.  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 your feathered friends.


Of course a fragrant shrub list wouldn’t be complete without lilac. I didn’t want to mention it first so that you’d start thinking outside the box. Plus, I wanted to make you aware of some other fragrant shrubs that also deserve a little attention. Pictured here is Scentara Double Blue lilac by Proven Winners.

Note: 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. 

All photos courtesy of Proven Winners.