Most highly scented roses

stacianJanuary 2, 2014

Last year, I dove head first in planting roses at our new house and frankly was a bit overwhelmed with new information. I also had yet to figure out what I liked best and what I couldn't live without.

I have a few roses now that I have decided I can live without and am replacing them with favored colors and highly scented roses.

I've been doing a huge amount of research but I would love for everyone to weigh in - which roses have the most knock your socks off scent?

So far I love Cl Angel Face and La Reine but I've read there are some roses that smell even more.

I have La Reine de Violettes and Mme Isaac Pereire on order =)

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The Damask fragrance of some of the deep red HT's will knock your socks off: 'Mr. Lincoln', 'Oklahoma' (which I would love to have here), 'Cl. Etoile de Hollande', 'Francis Dubreuil'/'Barcelona'. The latter two I have currently in the garden. There are others which I'm not personally familiar with.
I grow very few Austin roses because they don't do well in the adversity to which I subject my roses. But I've had quite a few in the past and know there are many fragrant ones. About the only one I have currently that does really well for me is 'Sharifa Asma'. It's a sturdy rose that stays a reasonable size, and is one of the most fragrant roses I know. Highly recommended.
Many of the Pemberton Hybrid Musks are very sweetly scented, and the scent travels on the air. The best for fragrance in my experience are 'Cornelia' and (very best of all) 'Felicia'. But most of Pemberton's roses are fragrant.
There are many very fragrant roses among the old once-blooming roses of European origin and the hybrid Spinosissimas, but I doubt they would grow in your climate and so I won't talk about them.
'Mme. Plantier' is wonderfully scented. It's also a huge, once-blooming rose and the old flowers stay on the plant. But if you have room for it, it's splendid.
Many of the Teas are scented, but not everyone can smell that fragrance. It has a cool, dry, woody character, not what most people associate with roses. Scented Chinas tend to have a mild sweet fragrance, not overly strong.
Many of the Noisettes are fragrant; often it's a wafting sweet scent that probably comes from the musk rose in their ancestry. 'Jaune Desprez' wafts, and I think 'Blush Noisette' does too.
I'll stop here, but not because I've run out of roses. There are very fragrant roses among the Bourbons and Hybrid Perpetuals too, and a number of much-hybridized roses of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 'Noella Nabonnand', classed as a climbing Tea, has a strong fruity fragrance.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:23AM
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Once again, I must put in a vote for Champney's pink cluster. It blooms 365 days a year for me and has a strong scent that carries a quite a distance. Another favorite for heavenly stink is Eugene de Beauharnais, although many people on these forums have difficulty with him. He doesn't seem to have any problems in my garden other than the fact that he's a rather slow grower.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 8:41AM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

Please be aware that "wafting" of scents is highly dependent on the existence of humidity. Only in a humid location will rose scents "waft." That does include New Orleans, but not SoCal.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 12:40PM
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ms. violet grey

Is there a reason Mme Isaac Pereire rarely blooms? She has leafed out beautifully & has increased in height. This coming spring will be her 2nd year in my garden. I have big expectations madame.

Another one that is equally stingy and as fragrant is Gertrude Jekyll.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Thanks for weighing in everyone! I realize scent is highly subjective and comes with it a set of conditions which may or may not be inducive to being able to smell a rose.

Not having humidity here in Socal (even about a mile away from the beach) is both a blessing and a slight drawback where roses are concerned.

Mauve - I'm not sure why your MIP rarely blooms. I hard she was quite forthcoming =)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:49PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Some of my favorites for their scent are Frederic Mistral, Evelyn, Eglantine, Angel Face, Ebb Tide, Big Purple (though I don't care for the rose much), and Munstead Wood. Roses don't waft much around here in the desert, but these roses smell lovely up closer. In fact all my Austins have nice scents. Diane

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 6:01PM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

Yep -- even a mile from the beach. I live in a coastal canyon and we get PLENTY of marine layer fog. That's not the type of humidity that matters for scent carrying capability. What you need is warmth at the same time as humidity, I think. Scent never "wafts" at my place, except from the Angel Trumpets when they are in bloom. For some reason, that one carries really well if you are within a thirty to forty foot zone of the plant. Probably just because it is so very sickeningly strong up close.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 6:44PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

Mine were planted only a few months ago, but as I look through my inventory, the ones which were really strongly scented were:

'Mme Dore'
"Sophie's Perpetual" (often listed as a China)

'Quatre Saisons Blanc Mousseaux'

'Abraham Darby'
'Jude the Obscure'
'The Prince'

'Duchesse de Montebello'
'Georges Vibert'

Hybrid Bracteata (ala Paul Barden)
'Golden Buddha' (though the apricot smell it had wasn't sharp and didn't travel far, it was very strong up-close)

Hybrid Chinas (both reminded me of how Albas smell)
'Duchesse d'Angouleme' (the one aka 'Wax Rose')
'Nouveau Monde'

Hybrid Musks
'Bubble Bath' (not very strong up-close, but carried far)

Hybrid Perpetuals
'Georg Arends'

Hybrid Teas
'Lemon Spice'

Musks (all three strong close-up AND carried far)
'Reverend Seidel'
'Rosa moschata' single-form
"Secret Garden Musk Climber"

'Clotilde Soupert'
'Marie Pavie' (not sharp or strong close-up, but carried far)

"Rose de Rescht"

"Bermuda Spice" (like fresh grapefruit)

'Jaune Desprez' (not sharp or strong close-up, but carried far)

There are others I picked that are supposed to be very scented as well, but not everything bloomed (or bloomed much) the first year, so I'm going by only what I actually got to sniff. Some roses gave (or were "allowed") only one flower. I'm looking forward to Spring.



    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 1:46AM
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Where did you get Madame Dore? She's on my list but I can't find anyone who sells her.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 2:37AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

When you go to Rose Shows, the roses that are always in the 'Best Fragrance' Category are:

Double Delight
Fragrant Cloud
Sugar Moon

I did win for Most Fragrant Rose with The Prince. I brought him to the show thinking he could be a great bloom, but he didn't open enough so I stuck him in Most Fragrant just for the heck of it!

My two other fragrance favorites are Barrone Prevost and Comte de Chambord. Great classic rose fragrance.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 7:12AM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

La France is probably the most fragrant rose in my garden, but then a lot of my roses are here because they can stand the heat or are otherwise tough. Young Lycidas, which is young and has had only a few blooms, is also quite fragrant. So was The Dark Lady, which didn't stay long because in my soil it was a rather bright red. A great rose otherwise which bloomed and grew like crazy as soon as I planted it from its band pot. Souvenir de la Malmaison and its sports are also fragrant, although not one of my favorite scents. Duchesse de Brabant and Lady Hillingdon are two tea roses that I can smell and they have a lovely scent. Ebb Tide was very fragrant. Bishop's Castle is very fragrant even in my dry garden. Belinda's Dream and Madame Dore are also very good.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 1:47PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

Stacian, 'Mme Dore' was one of my Vintage Gardens buys last year. When I heard they were going to be closing, I paid attention to each release, and tried snatching up anything that was either on "my list" or could be, if I knew about it before. I was looking for fragrance, so with each release, I'd search what was available using that criterium, then looking up anything new to me on HelpMeFind. I liked the idea of a small fragrant Bourbon, and since 'Mme Dore' is one of the many which is hard to find beyond Vintage Gardens, I made sure to add it to my order.

And here's a plea for everyone else who snatched up rarities from Vintage Gardens: as your plants grow, consider rooting a few more and offering them to existing nurseries to keep them in commerce. Simply email the ones in your area, saying "Hey, I have this, and I notice you don't...would you be interested in a rooted cutting to grow as a mother plant in exchange for a credit toward a rose you already offer for sale?"

Oh, and one final, kinda unrelated plea: a lot of photos are posted here of roses that aren't well-known. If what is shared here goes beyond what is available at HelpMeFind, consider uploading them there -- especially whole-plant shots. A few times I've looked through the forum to get ideas of how some lesser-known roses will grow (shape, size, etc) and found great shots and/or first-hand descriptions here, but not-so-much at HelpMeFind. A few roses I got had NO pics at HelpMeFind, yet I recall some forum members saying they grew them. So look through your inventories, see how well individual roses are represented on HMF, and consider expanding the information available on that wonderful resource.



    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 2:33PM
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In my garden Sonia Rykiel and Yolande d'Aragon knock my socks off. The old HT Mirandy does also. It and Sonia R. can have weakish stems, but I think they are worth growing for the scent..

The 1958 floribunda Ivory Fashion is exquisitely perfumed of cloves. A commenter on Help Me Find describes Ivory Fashion this way:

"Aug 2007: I bought this rose in the 'band' form from Vintage Gardens. Although it was just a stick when it arrived, it has produced extremely fragrant roses!! The bush is rather small, as it is very young, but the scent from these ivory blooms is hypnotic!! I wonder why this rose is no longer sold?? I just don't understand the 'rose business yet!"

Perhaps people don't like the growth habit of floribundas now, but I don't see how that can be. People used to grow Ivory Fashion with Apricot Nectar, which was also wonderfully fragrant. Ivory Fashion is a parent of "Sally Holmes". Roses Unlimited has it.

If I gardened in zone 10, I would want to try the wonderfully fragrant Jaune Desprez along with Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison and climbing La France -- not to mention Annie Laurie McDowell (whose scent people praise to the skies), and in general explore the teas, true musks, and noisettes that are a bit too tender for my area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jaune Desprez

This post was edited by monarda on Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 18:36

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 3:59PM
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Marlorena(Z8-9 England)

..not an old garden rose but a Hybrid Tea - Chartreuse de Parme [Delbard]... well, I think it's lovely. I don't know if it's available outside Europe...

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 7:27PM
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My favorites according to my order...sort of:

-Sonia Rykiel
-Blush Hip
-Felicite Parmentier
-Gr. Maiden's Blush
-Sharifa Asma
-Honorine de Brabant

The Honorine I'm listing at the end because I don't have her any more so can't compare to the others...but she stands out in my memory...I think the raspberry note especially appeals to me as I cannot state emphatically enough how very delicious each and every bloom of Sonia Rykiel is.

My 5 year old daughter is becoming a connoisseur already (we like to take a big bucket and just snip off blooms and she asks for each's name...oh the adorableness etched into my heart as we go) and last year rose after rose her little nose preferred Cornelia to all others.

Not sure how my list will help you though...certainly you *won't* have any luck with the Albas in your clime. The others you'd need to find info from others in your area.


Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by gothiclibrarian on Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 11:54

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 11:52AM
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vasue(7A Charlottesville)

My favorite scent is Crimson Glory's rich rose perfume. Other hybrid teas not yet mentioned are Yves Piaget, Voodoo, Perfume Delight, New Zealand & Full Sail, Tiffany & The McCartney Rose. Climbers include America & her sport Pearly Gates, Aloha & her sport Dixieland Linda/Lady Ashe. Grandiflora White Lightnin', floribundas Margaret Merrill & Sunsprite are also delicious.

Try searching "most fragrant roses" & you'll turn up many more...

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:10PM
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I emphatically agree with your idea of sharing around rare roses you own; I don't know if nursery owners would be interested, but it's certainly worth a try. Cutting and plant swaps with other gardeners have hugely enriched my and their gardens. By the way, it's also a buffer against the loss of a plant: if your plant dies, a gardening friend may still have it and be able to start you again.
Your suggestion of uploading photos, including whole plant shots, to HMF is also excellent. The folks who run the site also appreciate input about such matters as how big a given variety gets in your garden, and will update their posted descriptions accordingly.
Stacey, I hope you'll forgive the OT. Actually these thoughts deserve a thread of their own.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:10AM
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Marie Pavie and Rosa moschata waft wonderfully for me even in dry air. Interestingly, they are not all that fragrant when I put my nose right up close to the flowers.

Oklahoma and Cl Crimson Glory are my most fragrant modern roses.

Gertrude Jeckyll is said to be one of the most fragrant roses ever bred. Mine is fragrant and I do like it, but I find Deuil du Dr Reynaud to be the most fragrant rose in my garden. It is certainly not the healthiest rose I grow, but its scent keeps its place intact. I have decided to cull the 10% poorest performers this year with regard to the ongoing drought, but DdDR is safe.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 1:08PM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

Marie Pavie often floats around on the breeze in my small backyard, even in our Dallas/Fort Worth dry summer weather. The individual blooms are so short lived that they could be regarded as insignificant, but man that scent keeps her in my good favor.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:01AM
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Marie Pavie, Blush Noisette, Champney's Pink Cluster, Madame Isiac Periere; Lemon Spice,Tiffany and Papa Meilland, but I do love the OGRs the most because they are so dependable and delectable, but every garden should grow Tiffany, Papa and Lemon Spice.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Favorites in my garden last year were:

Fragrant Cloud
Sceptre d'Isle
Jude the Obscure
Sharifa Asma
English Perfume

I'm looking forward to Bolero this year! I've read that it has great fragrance.

At our local gardens, Memorial Day had the most impressive fragrance.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

My most fragrant rose is also my favorite, the alba Felicite Parmentier. She is a once-bloomer though, but when she flowers the fragrance certainly wafts, even in dry air.

Others that waft here include:

Paul's Himalayan Musk, a once bloomer and also a house and tree eater, beware!

York and Lancaster, a beautiful and also very, very big damask. After 20+ years of growth (without pruning!), mine is up on the roof. When in flower, it is so gorgeous, and as the canes sway in the breeze, the fragrance envelopes the whole area. Once bloomer.

Rosa californica 'First Dawn'. Native california rose. Likes moderate water and some amount of shade (that's where it is happiest in the wild). Produces massive trusses of single very pale pink cupped flowers. Blooms for much of the year. I bought it at a native plant sale when I was NOT shopping for roses, but it was the wafting scent of a group of them all in bloom that drew me in like a magnet. As an added bonus the tiny hips that it produces are rather tasty, kind of like dried apricots in texture but with a milder taste.

Fragrant but I haven't noticed wafting:

Portland from Glendora (rose found in the neighboring city of Glendora
Saint Eilizabeth of Hungary
Reine des Violettes
Rose de Rescht
Comtesse O'Gorman
Baronne Prevost
Stanwell Perpetual
Mrs. William Paul
Jenny Duval
Pickering Four Seasons
Rene d'Anjou
Henry Nevard
Francois Premier
Soupert et Notting
Gertrude Jekyll
Marchesa Boccella
Chrysler Imperial
Clotilde Soupert
President Dutailly
Benny Lopez
Duchesse de Rohan
Excellenz von Schubert


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:21PM
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