The 15 Best Fragrant Plants To Include In Your Patio Container Garden

Wake up and smell the roses. It might be a figurative expression, but when your patio container garden is filled with fragrant flowers, what better way is there to start your day than with a deep breath? When choosing which plants to pot, looks are usually taken into consideration, but a plant's scent can be a great reason to bury its roots in a container. Fragrant plants bring a sweet savor to your home and can also be a pungent way to repel unwanted pests and attract pollinators. We have 15 plants that are great for potting and are sure to bring a lovely scent to your garden.

Our fragrant picks are a mix of flowers and herbs, from common mint to the tiny blooms of sweet alyssum. The majority of them are easy to grow, especially when starting from a seedling. As your scented container garden flourishes, you can also harvest the foliage or flowers to use as a perfume around the house. Add the bouquet to a vase or tie the cuttings with twine to hang it wherever you want to smell their delightful aroma.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a popular fragrance used in various products, from soaps to candles, but nothing beats the real deal. This purple flower has a unique floral scent that's light with herbal notes. The early stages of blooming are when lavender has the strongest fragrance. 'Twickel Purple' and 'Provence' are two varieties that are particularly pungent. Proper drainage is key for your fresh-smelling lavender to thrive in a container. It's best to let the soil dry out in between waterings. You'll also need at least a 10-inch pot so the roots have enough space to grow.


A spicy clove smell is the lovely fragrance you get with carnations (Dianthus spp), also called pinks or sweet William. The gorgeous blooms are ideal for your container garden and make beautiful clippings for bouquets. The pungent scent, while delightful to us, is a turn-off for critters like squirrels and deer. You can place your potted carnation flowers around your plants to help make your entire garden fragrant and critter-free. Plus, these blossoms attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. Just keep in mind carnations do best in full sun and well-drained soil.


A delightful fragrance is just one of the many reasons you'll want to add basil to your garden. The basil (Ocimum basilicum) typically has a sweet or spicy aroma, but the exact notes will differ based on the varieties. Some basil smells like cinnamon, while others are reminiscent of lemon. You can enjoy the scent and culinary benefits of any variety. Basil doesn't like the cold or dry soil, so for your fragrant and delicious herb to thrive, place it in a sunny spot on your patio and give the plant plenty of water.


Azaleas (Rhododendron spp) are another vibrant flower to add to your container garden. However, not all azaleas are fragrant, so be careful to read the plant tags when buying your flowers. Some popular varieties that offer scented petals are sweet azalea, Florida azalea, Alabama azalea, and Piedmont azalea. The scents range from sugary and perfume-like to lemony and spicy. They are a great flower to mix and match varieties in your container garden for a unique look and fragrance. Give your flowers sunlight and moist, well-drained soil; in return, they'll give you pungent blossoms for the growing season.


Mint (Mentha spp) is another popular herb known for its fragrant scent, which is synonymous with fresh breath. It will bring a bright perfume to your patio container garden. Mint is a great plant for a pot because it usually takes over and spreads uncontrollably when planted directly in the ground. That is partly why it is one of the easiest plants to grow for beginner gardeners. There are several varieties of this fragrant herb, including spearmint, peppermint, and water mint. Part shade and moist soil are mint's favorite growing conditions, but they can thrive in almost any environment.


Freesia is a flower harvested for its scented blossoms and used in shampoos and candles. The plant's light scent complements other floral fragrances like peonies and magnolias. Some liken the airy, delicate smell to lemon. With full sun and well-drained soil, you, too, can enjoy the fragrance in your container garden. Freesia even makes for sweet houseplants. Just plant the corms in your flower pot. A 5-inch container can house six corms and produce a lovely bouquet. The beautiful petals range in colors from blue to orange, depending on the plant variety.

Lemon balm

As you might guess, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has citrus notes, namely lemon. However, there is also a lime variety that smells like — wait for it — lime. While lemon balm sprouts tiny white flowers that bees love, it's the foliage that offers such a fragrant scent. You can prune the flowers so the plant's energy is spent producing more citrusy leaves. This easy-to-grow herb is perfect for your container garden. It can also pair well with freesias and azaleas for their citrus-like perfumes.

Lemon verbena

Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) is a woody shrub that sprouts beautiful white flowers, too. Similar to lemon balm, lemon verbena is a herb with citrus-scented leaves. This fragrant plant has sweet and acidic notes that come to life by simply brushing the foliage. Even the dried leaves will still have a strong aroma. It is perfect for giving your space a fresh scent even before you spruce it up. Lemon verbena is frost-sensitive, so you want to keep this fragrant plant in full sun and bring it inside during the winter months. Moist, well-drained soil is also critical for flourishing leaves.

Sweet alyssum

A deep breath of sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and honey might be the first thing that comes to mind. The rich fragrance is how sweet alyssum got its name. These tiny flower crowns have a sugary scent that people and pollinators alike love. Bees, flower flies, stingless wasps, and butterflies enjoy the fragrance and nectar. Plus, the dense collection of flowers means more sweet perfume to disperse. The best spot for your alyssum plant has morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Well-drained soil is a must, along with regular watering, for your flowers to thrive.


You might already be familiar with rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), but did you know this plant is a member of the mint family? The two herbs have quite different fragrance profiles. Rosemary has a pungent, woody, and herbaceous fragrance similar to pine trees. For the most fragrant rosemary, place the herb in a sunny spot on your patio and keep its soil moist. Overfertilization can hamper the spicy aroma, so rosemary is best grown without extra feed. While you enjoy the fragrant foliage, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds may stop by for the small flowers.

Bee balm

Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is another plant in the mint family with the fragrant gene. The colorful blossoms have a distinctly citrusy, earthy smell that attracts our noses and beneficial insects. It is a gorgeous flower to decorate your patio. Bee balm foliage also has a minty odor that disperses when you crush the leaves. Since bee balm is an aggressive grower, it is ideal for a container garden, so you can take advantage of its benefits and not have it grow out of control. This perennial needs full sun and moist but well-drained soil.


Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) flowers have delicate white leaves that pack a powerful scent. The evergreen shrub wafts aromas of spice, fresh greens, and fruit. It's the classic fragrance peopleusually refer to when they say something smells like flowers. Gardenias attract pollinators and even release more perfume overnight to lure in nighttime critters. Morning sunlight with partial shade in the afternoon should serve your potted gardenia well. However, too much shade can reduce the blooms, hampering the sweet fragrance. Further, the white blossoms are cold-sensitive, so bring them in during the frigid seasons.


While geraniums are popular flowers grown for their vibrant blooms, scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp) are related plants favored for their leaves. The foliage can smell like a variety of fragrances, such as mint, cinnamon, chocolate, and strawberry. You can mix and match different cultivars to create a unique garden scent. It is best to keep your scented geraniums in a place with at least six hours of sunlight. Full sun conditions activate the fragrant oils in the leaves, so you only have to rub the greenery to elicit the sweet savor.


If you favor sugary scents, hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are definitely the perfect plants for your pot. Hyacinths have an intensely sweet smell. You can't escape their fragrance wafting around your container garden. The sweet-smelling flower needs full to partial sun and moist, well-drained soil to thrive in your patio garden. Although it can tolerate drought, you want to give it enough moisture for the most vibrant and fragrant blossoms. Like many of the fragrant flowers, hyacinths attract pollinators. There are several species of these flowers for you to enjoy the sweet odor in various colors, from red to blue.


On summer days, you may notice that your roses (Rosa spp) smell better than ever. It's not all in your head. A collection of moist soil, sunlight, warmth, and humidity tends to peak the flower's fragrance. The rose's scent depends on its variety, ranging from sweet to musky, but there are notable aromas, like apple, lemon, and clover, that the romantic blooms are likened to. Compact varieties are best for your container gardens. These flowers prefer full sun, an inch of water per week, and fertilizer, especially as they bloom. With the right care, you can wake up and smell the roses, literally!