Gardeners usually select shrubs based on their size, shape and flower color. Many shrubs have fragrances that are commonly overlooked. Some shrubs produce scent from their flowers, while others have fragrant foliage that releases scent when brushed against. When planting a fragrant shrub, be aware that some people do not like all scents. Some overly sweet smells are perceived as foul smelling.
Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) is a deciduous shrub 4 to 7 feet tall. The leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and dark green in color. Flowers appear in May and last until July. The large 2-inch blossoms are dark, chocolate brown or maroon in color. Carolina allspice bush gives off a spicy fragrance, especially in the evening.
Creeping wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), a prostrate evergreen shrub, only reaches 6 inches in height. Glossy deep green leaves release a minty fragrance when crushed or brushed against. This evergreen changes to a reddish color in the fall once cold temperatures appear. The delicate white urn-shaped flowers, tinted with pink, bloom from May until the end of summer.
Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), a semi-evergreen shrub loses its leaves in areas with harsh winters. In areas with mild winters, low-growing glossy abelia keeps its leaves but they change to a bronze color during cool weather. Clusters of pinkish-white, trumpet-shaped flowers begin blooming in May and continue until the end of summer. The fragrant flowers attract butterflies to your landscape.
New Jersey Tea
New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a perennial bush with 1- to 3-inch long leaves. This small shrub reaches 1 to 3 feet in height. Tiny white flowers form round clusters and bloom in June to August. The flowers add fragrance to cut flower bouquets.
Spicebush (Lindera bensoin) produces 3- to 5-inch-long fragrant leaves. The oval leaves give off a spicy odor when bruised. The leaves on a spicebush are green on the top and a paler green on the bottom. Masses of small yellow flowers bloom in early spring. The spicebush grows naturally in a rounded shape up to 15 feet tall.
Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), a 2- to 4-foot-tall shrub, will spread twice as wide as its height. Leaves grow in as a light green color. As the leaves mature, they change to a dark green color. The fragrant leaves resemble fern fronds in shape. Small yellow-green catkin clusters bloom in April and early May.
A shrubby herb, Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) grows 2 to 4 feet in height with aromatic leaves. Wormwood leaves are silvery white and covered with tiny hairs. The leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and divided into smaller leaflets. Drooping yellow flowers form clusters in July and lasts until October.