Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Outdoor Plants for the Northeast That Smell Good

By Linda Batey ; Updated September 21, 2017

It's one thing to have beautiful flowerbeds that flower from early spring to late fall; it's another to add the wonderful dimension of highly aromatic plants that scent the entire yard. You can find varieties of most perennials that are pleasantly scented and unaffected by cold winter weather. In fact, some varieties of perennials need the winter freeze for their period of dormancy.

Shrubs and Trees

Flowering trees that smell good (and bring bees) include fruit trees. Apple, cherry, peach and pear trees all offer highly scented spring blooms. Most of these trees are available in dwarf sizes so you know exactly how tall they will be when mature.

Rose bushes, particularly the rugosa roses, are easy to care for and bloom throughout the spring and summer. Roses are available in virtually every color of the rainbow, but you will be limited if you are purchasing for scent alone. Some of the most beautiful roses have no scent, so before buying them, give them the sniff test.

The honeysuckle is also an aromatic addition if you have a place for it to grow on, such as an arbor or a fence. Butterflies love honeysuckle, as do hummingbirds and bees.

And who could forget lilacs? In order for a lilac tree to bloom, it needs to be located in full sun. You can prune the lilac without affecting next year's blooms, so you can keep it at a manageable size.

All of these plants do well in zones 4 to 6, which covers even the coldest areas of Maine.


Fragrant flowers, such as the Stargazer lily, truly scent your entire yard. You might not want to plant this by a window that is open frequently because the smell can almost be too much. Hyacinth, available in many colors, adds scent in the spring, as do sweet Williams. Pinks and carnations last longer in the garden and add a delicate sweet scent. Bee Balm blooms in mid-summer into the fall, offering an unusual earthy, but pleasant, scent on hot, dry days.

You can also add scent to your pots for the deck or patio. Though orchids, lotus, angel's trumpet and jasmine clearly won't survive a freeze, they will offer summer enjoyment in pots.


Herbs can add lovely smells to your gardens as well. The mint family naturally deters insects while giving off a pleasant scent when touched. Peppermint, lavender, spearmint and chocolate mint are perennial treasures. Thyme and rosemary are also perennials. Basil is an annual, but is available in many sizes, colors and textures to add an unexpected look to your gardens. All of these herbs have nice blossoms and you can use them in your cooking or in herbal remedies.


About the Author


Linda Batey has been working as a freelance writer for more than two years, specializing in travel, gardening, and herbal and home remedies. She has been published in "Gardening Inspirations" magazine and various online sites. Batey holds an associate degree in paralegal from Beal College. She also is knowledgeable is