Fragrant plants for shade?

lindseyaJuly 12, 2006

I need ideas for fragrant plants for a shade garden. The area is on the north side of the house and gets some morning sun but western afternoon sun is blocked by a fence. The area is currently occupied by gi-normous ferns that form a massive and uninteresting blob of green. My husband, who is new to gardening, mentioned that he'd like to put in some nice-smelling plants there instead of the ferns. I'm trying to encourage him with gardening so I am hunting for some fragrant shade-lovers. (He loves lavender, which we'll be planting in the hot and sunny rock wall.) Thanks for your suggestions!

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tjsangel(z5 OH)

My suggestion would be Plantain Lily, Hosta. I think it's called Fragrant Bouquet. They are the only type grown mostly for their fragrance than foliage, but I think both are beautiful. It's difficult in my opinion to find lots of fragrance in shade plants. Another might be Lily of the Valley (spreading) or Solomon's Seal (lightly fragrant.) Good luck!


    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 5:23PM
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dirty_knees_il(ZONE 5)

Nicotiana, the ones that bloom in the evening. I know they are supposed to be for sun but mine don't seem to know that.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 8:21AM
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Annual or non-hardy plants would include heliotrope or mignonette. A number of shrubs, specially winter blooming ones, will provide fragrance in shade: sweet box (Sarcococca), Lonicera fragrantissima, Japanese mahonia, wintersweet (Chimonanthus), and sweetspire, Clethra, will do the same for summer.

If not very heavy or dense shade, you can expand your palatte considerably - Oriental lilies, vining honeysuckles, Clematis armandii, Philadelphus (mock orange), deciduous azaleas, flowering currant, just to name a few.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 12:20PM
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kyplantjunkie(z6 KY)

There's another hosta called "Aphrodite", with a beautiful fragrance. Clethra "Ruby Spice" is wonderful. Living in Seattle, you could grow Corydalis- I don't remeber which variety is fragrant-check the Heronswood Nursery website; but the electric blue flowers are spectacular!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 1:35PM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

Hosta 'Guacamole' is unbeatable for fragrance and amazing foliage! 'Fragrant Bouquet' is definitely another great suggestion as well as the parent hosta 'Plantaginea'. There are others that are fragrant from this lineage but I don't know them all. If you go to the hosta forum, I believe someone listed a ton of fragrant ones lately.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 2:42PM
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Hi, just found this forum and thought I'd add a thought to your question. I agree with all the hosta suggestions, they smell wonderful. If you're looking for small, spring plants that are fragrant, here's a few that grow well in my shade garden: Forget Me Nots, Winter Aconite (come up very early, tiny yellow flowers that smell like honey-but careful, they are poisonous, so I plant them where my pets don't go), and, I beleive the woodland hyacinths were also fragrant this spring.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 5:31PM
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Nepeta Walker's Low is an excellent perennial that tolerates afternoon shade. It may not flower as much as it would in sun or part-sun, but the foliage - soft, grayish, toothed - is beautiful and fragrant. It becomes bushy. Cats don't attack it. I've grown in full sun where it really thrives, and in part-sun where growth is slowed down only a bit. Maureen

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 5:42PM
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GAAlan(z7b(on map) 8(imby) Atlanta)

I like all suggestions. I would like to expand on Gardengal's Sarcococca idea. All the following is my own opinion and does not reflect that of the management!

This group of small shrubs is one of my favorites. I have four species so far. They serve very well for dry shade and in my experience compete well with large trees. Not only can they produce fragrance for shade but some even have lovely fruit that goes through color changes. Of the ones I grow by far my favorite is Sarcococca confusa. It has beautiful glossy foliage, very sweet and powerful fragrance, and produces large quantities of glossy red aging to black berries. I'll never forget the first time experiencing its fragrance. I was walking in the garden in February, quite a ways from it, when this heavenly scent wafted to my nose. I could not imagine where it coming from! It took me ten minutes to track down the source! Truly a gem! Here is a shot of fruit from two years ago.....

So sorry for the wide shot, its the only one I have of the berries!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 8:52PM
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Daphne odora. I have two of them on the northeast side of my house, and in February and March they fill half the block with the most wonderful fragrance. They require extremely well-draining soil and cannot have even the tineist bit of mulch touching them. They absolutely cannot tolerate standing water. So they are a little fussy, but the fragrance is so worth it. Royal Standard hostas are fragrant in August, and gardenias (if your climate allows them) also grow on the northeast side of my house. Sweet Autumn clematis is fragrant in September. If you have a little bit of sun and your winters don't get too cold, nothing beats Confederate jasmine.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 10:09PM
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garden4510(z7 north GA)

Osmanthus handle quite a bit of shade and smell like apricot cobbler to me. Elaeagnus can get wild and woolly but have an unbelievable fragrance in the fall. Like Osmanthus they too are listed for partial shade. Nothing much will kill them. Again, partial shade, but Butterfly Ginger smells terrific. Carolina Allspice take lots of shade. They are boring until they bloom, and then in Spring they have that "what on earth is so fragrant?" thing going. I noticed they vary alot in fragrance and intensity from plant to plant. The Confederate Jasmine that sugarhill mentioned will do well where you live. It is a climber for a trellis or arbor.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 9:46PM
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Phlox divaricata "Clouds of Perfume" and "Blue Perfume" have amazing scent that really does perfume the whole garden, but not in a sickly, cloying way.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 11:39AM
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Cimicifuga HBB and Brunette..Oriental Lillies (as stated above) Viburnum Juddii, Osmanthu.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 12:18PM
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I've planted lemon thyme in the shade around some rocks and its taken off well...beautiful, luscious lemon smell and very good w/fish/chicken and veggies. T

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 1:33AM
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