Anyone fond of Aglaia odorata?

Ispahan Zone6a ChicagoNovember 16, 2009

Okay, I admit it. I have had a lot of fragrant houseplant flings over the past few years. A few one-night stands, and several more lengthy affairs lasting a season or even a year or two. Many of these plants are now long gone or at least no longer enchant me the way they once did. I guess the old adage about familiarity breeding contempt may be at least partially true.

But I have a few plants that have been with me for quite a long time now. In spite of mood swings, grey winter days, not enough sun, too much sun, neglectful watering, etc., they are always just "there" and always manage to produce a scented bloom...or dozens.

Right now I keep coming back to Aglaia odorata. Of all the plants I have ever grown, Aglaia is not the most heavily scented nor is it the most visually stunning. But the fragrance is strong enough that it wafts and catches you by surprise and it is one of the most hauntingly pure, sweet and addictive I have ever known a flowering plant to produce. It grows slowly but steadily and is always covered with deep green, glossy foliage. It can bloom in any season regardless of light levels, humidity or temperature. I have never known it to have root rot (though I managed to kill one once by failing to water it for more than a month while out of town) or spider mites or fungal diseases. It doesnÂt pout when you prune it or move it to a new location. It doesnÂt need to be repotted constantly and it does not demand a constant regimen of trace elements to keep the leaves from going chlorotic. And that ethereal, amazing scent is always there, day or night, sun or shade.

I have other plants that please me, too, but none quite so easy as Aglaia. My little Murraya paniculata, for instance, is currently blooming on the windowsill. It is beautiful to look at and even more beautiful to smell. But it is a hog for sunlight and nutrients and is more likely to drop foliage and whimper for a while if you donÂt pamper it to its liking. My Hoya obscura is another faithful bloomer with probably the smoothest and most easy-to-live-with scent in the hoya world, but it sometimes suffers from root rot if I get busy and my watering schedule becomes erratic, and then I have to restart the whole shebang from cuttings.

Does anyone else here grow Aglaia? What have been your experiences growing this wonderful plant?

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daxin(z9 Bay Area)

Aglaia odorata is one of the most popular house plants in its native land China. The current almost everblooming A. o. is most likely a compact and more robust cultivar. One Aglaia odorata plant at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in Southern California looks like the original wild species and it is a small tree of over 20' high with much larger leaves. I did not see any flowers on that tree for the few times I went there.

Aglaia odorata prefers warm and moist weather year-round and is hardy only to about 28-30F. The more sunlight you can provide, the more flowers you will get. As houseplants, it can be tricky to overwinter. The key is to have well-drained soil and do not over-water. Maybe because it is not easy to propagate from cuttings, Aglaia odorata is still not very common.

Another fragrant house plant I can recommend is Calathea concinna. It is readily available and very easy to grow. Its fragrance is not similar to Aglaia odorata, but it is also very subtle and pleasant, never overpowering.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 1:03AM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Daxin, thank you for the great information. I never realized there was more than one clone of Aglaia odorata in circulation. Is the fragrance of the original the same as the compact, everblooming form?

I noticed on a certain website that cannot be mentioned here (first word rhymes with "crop") there is a plant called Aglaia odorata var. gigantea. It is not listed for sale, just mentioned in its catalog of plants. It is supposed to have larger leaves and a more vigorous growth habit. Maybe this is the original A. odorata you mentioned?

I also remember Logee's listing a plant called Aglaia odorata many years ago that was not really fragrant. Then one season they listed a new plant simply called "Aglaia sp." which is the plant they currently sell as Aglaia odorata. It is much nicer than the old form of Aglaia they sold in every way and it is what I currently grow.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 2:05PM
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yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

Aglaia odorata is also called Rice flower, well actually it should be Millet flower, since the flower resembles a ripe Millet grain. It's one of the most popular houseplant in China indeed. Almost every family has or had one. It's very easy to grow, but the number one enemy is the cold. It hates to stay cold and wet. Doesn't mind low humidity too much. I have one right now, it grew into a 3 X 3 feet in three years. The key is constant feeding and warmth.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 7:58PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Has anyone ever tried tea scented with aglaia flowers? Does it smell or taste like the scent of the flowers? I am a big fan of jasmine tea, and I have seen (but never tried) osmanthus-scented tea on various websites. But I have never encountered aglaia-scented tea. Maybe it is not produced for export?

Yellowthumb, thank you for contributing more excellent information about this plant.

As an aside note, I think Aglaia odorata has a truly interesting floral structure. The tiny blossoms look amazing under a magnifying glass.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 5:29PM
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mare2(5bSt.Louis)

Never tried the tea, but count me in as one whose little affair has turned into what I think of as true love!

Aglaia is the only fragrant plant IÂve grown exclusively indoors that blooms without direct sunlight and has an undeniably good scent. Have a couple of hoyas that bloom once a year without direct sunlight, but their scents have that earthy quality that hoyas are known for. And Aglaia is always either in bud or bloom. My only problem is that it has to be pretty warm in the room for the plant to waft any for me, but that improves as the plant gets bigger. I too love the shiny, healthy, disease-resistant foliage.

I like LogeeÂs description: "enduring friend." That about sums it up! P.S.-I've been digging around my house for a magnifying glass.... :)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 10:51AM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

Ispahan, as soon as I saw this forum I just had to google this plant. Thanks to you I have fallen MADLY IN LOVE with this plant!! Could I trade you for some cuttings sometime??

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 2:24PM
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yacheryl

What does it suspose to smell like
and what time of day?
I have one, 5foot tall.
It's in almost contance bloom and
I have never smelled anything from it.
Please tell me what I'm missing!.....cheryl

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 7:49PM
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sweetmichelia

I have a beautiful Perfume Plant (Aglaia odorata) it was growing just wonderful for 3 years in it's original pot I bought in it, it grew and bloomed constantly and smelled wonderful when the sun hit it, I moved to Chino, CA a colder at night area, I planted it in a shady place, it is now all brown and sad looking in just 1 month, I just pulled it out of the ground yesterday and I really don't know what to do with it, I believe it is still alive, don't know if I should put it in another place with more sun or in a pot? what should I do next, I have to do this today? HELP

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 11:27AM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

Yes, I love aglaia odorata. When I first saw this post, I just had to google this plant and for me it was love at first sight. Anyways, if anyone is interested in trading some cuttings I have some coconut scented geraniums for you.

Any takers??

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:43PM
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yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

Hi Perennialfan,

Not to discourage you, the aglaia odorata cuttings are very hard and slow to root, I have been trying many times, all I got is a couple of rooted twigs. It takes long time. If you really want this plant, you can try logees, they should have the small plant.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 12:19PM
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sam89(Z10SF)

I have one I bought last year at Ranch99. It grew few inches. It bloomed few times and I really likes the scents of flower.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 12:17AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

I bought one from Pepper's Greenhouses this spring. It was tiny...only 2 or 3 inches tall. It's now a foot tall and getting bushy (I pinched it back at one point). I'm very happy with my purchase but the 2 foot tall one I managed to buy on Amazon has flowered at least 4 times so far and continues to put out flower buds. Yay!

-Robert

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 11:11PM
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forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)

Count me as one. I love it. The smell is to die for and the plant when it is full of leaves, looks very handsome. There is all sweet memory attached. This had been one of the only 2 plants that we had when I was a kid at home (the other one being Jasmine).

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 1:01PM
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Taylorweihe1

Yes! the flowers are wonderfully scented. I think they smell almost exactly like the Cymbidium Golden Elf 'Sundust' orchid, but not as strong. I had a small one that eventually was damaged and died, but plan on getting another soon.

-Taylor

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:59AM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Had to bump up this thread with some input. I am starting to love this plant a lot now. It does great in pots and blooms in waves throughout the year. If you don't have one already, you need to get one now!

One thing I have noticed is Aglaia odorata scent is a great wafter here. It's scent is omnipresent at many Oriental nurseries here and you just can't help buy wallow in the sweet citrus-like scent. It sort of reminds me of the scent of Clinique Happy for Men.

It would be perfect in pots by an entry way.

This post was edited by musaboru on Sun, Jul 27, 14 at 21:06

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:04PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Thanks for bumping this, Musaboru!

I love its scent though sometimes it can be hard to detect.
Hard to believe the tiny one I got from Pepper's has grown so much! :)

-Robert

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:25PM
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