Compact fragrant shrubs for urban garden

clancymacDecember 19, 2008

We live in a DC semi-detached rowhouse. Southfacing back yard with heavily shaded side yard. We are starting to develop a planting plan and I am looking for recommendations for the most fragrant (and space efficient)shrubs---both full sun and shade-loving. Recommendations for good urban-space cultivars of lilac, sweet laurel daphne, holly (?), mock orange (will it winter in DC?)and any other ideas much appreciated.

Would like to design a sequential planting plan that ensures that some fragrant shrub is always in bloom starting in spring through the fall.

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greyslate(7A (Maryland))

Have you considered some of the fragrant camellia cultivars to extend your season even further?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 5:31PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

There are some viburnums that provide showy and wonderfully fragrant flowers in early spring--many viburnums don't have fragrant flowers so do your homework before buying! (Better yet, buy them in bloom.)

Calycanthus has spring flowers with a rather odd sweet/fruity fragrance.

Buddleia has fragrant flowers (some more so than others) all summer and as a bonus is irresistible to butterflies. Buddleias are very tough, drought-tolerant plants that do well in poor sites.

I'm not a big fan of roses, but there are many that provide fragrance.

Various Osmanthus will provide late fall fragrance, and Sarcococca species bloom in winter. Neither has showy flowers, but they are attractive evergreen shrubs and provide fragrance when few other plants do.

Aside from shrubs, don't neglect hardy perennials and bulbs. Lilium regale is very fragrant and has been hardy and reliable in my garden, although the blooming period is far too short.

BTW you should also check out the fragrant plants forum for more suggestions, probably far more than you will get here.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help at the local nurseries. Behnke's in Beltsville is one of the all-around best in our area, and their staff are usually pretty knowledgeable and can provide you with all kinds of suggestions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fragrant plants

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 4:07PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Its hard in northern climes. My best for fragrance has been dwarf lilacs and roses. Most other stuff smells good but doesnt waft. I only once saw a dwarf mock organge and should have snatched it but I didnt and havent seen another one. Another one I am trying to grow this year is fragrant solomons seal. Thats a herb, not a shrub. sorry this is so hard to read, some of the keys on my comuter no longer work.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 6:00PM
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kali(Washington DC)

Jasmine! Also, "cestrum nocturnum" (do a search for "raat ki rani"). It is an Indian variety that blooms at night with an incredible fragrance. I can't tell you if they will overwinter in the ground in DC because I had them in containers on my front stoop and because they got stolen...par for the course for urban gardening unfortunately, lol.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 3:09AM
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Not shrubs, but must haves for fragrance are oriental lilies, they bloom in July and August here in IL.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 7:03PM
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I know this an OLD thread, but in case any one else is look for a fabulous shrub here is one. Some of you might love a lilac but it is so tall you thought it was to big for your landscape, think again. I'm recommending a French lilac (syringa vulgaris), by the name of PRAIRIE PETITE! It only grows 3 to 4 ft tall in zones 2-7. I got my from Select Plus International back in 2006. It is slow growing. Mine is only about 18 inches tall. This year I had 20 beautiful purple bloom spikes that smelled heavenly. SPI also has some other types of reblooming lilacs. This year I ordered Colby's Wishing Star lilac.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 1:29PM
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Carrie B

Viburnum Carlesii (compacta is dwarf) is one of the sweetest smells on earth.

Clethra alnifolia ('hummingbird' is a dwarf cultivar) is another.

Mahonia blooms early with sweet smelling flowers.

(please investigate buddleia's ecological invasiveness before considering planting)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 10:54PM
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Last year I bought double knock out roses from Home Depot. I paid $11.88 each, a great deal. I've seen them priced for over $30 each. I'm in a small space, and I planted them in a row to create a border hedge. They are low maintence and bloom from May to the 1st frost. The flowers are breath taking. You don't prune them. They come in a variety of colors. If I had the space I'd plant more. This is a gorgeous plant!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 2:01PM
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