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Talkback: Unpleasant plant smells

I run the risk of hyperventilating when the garden blooms, inhaling until I am dizzy, but the smell of Crataegus blossom always makes me gu...

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I run the risk of hyperventilating when the garden blooms, inhaling until I am dizzy, but the smell of Crataegus blossom always makes me gurn!
Alina W

And yet I love it.

Now lilies are a different matter  - completely overpowering and rank.


Yet I love the smell of lilies and the smell of my cordyline australis that is flowering at the moment.


My wife hates the scent of Sorbus flowers, I don't mind it, but it is a bit overpowering. Now I hate the smell of one of the weed dead nettles. Really gets to me when I pull them out. Also dislike the smell of Lemon scented herb thing whose name I foget.

I hate the smell of most lilies, but love hawthorn blossom - just as well as my garden's full of them. Hubby says they smell of old cat wee to him.  I think hyacinths smell like bad air freshener and I also can't bear jasmine. Too pungent. But love fressias, and magnolias have the best fragrance ever. And cherry pie is great (forget the proper name). And pelargonium foliage. And ramsons. ...this is making me hungry!


Shrinking Violet

There can be nothing worse imo than privet flowers.  They smell like cats wee, and it is particularly sickly on a warm day.  Needless to say, I have no privet hedges in my garden!


Red Valerian, towards the end of the year.  Smells like something has died to me!

Dead nettles/ lamium. Nasty acrid smell. Eeeeurgh.

I'm with Shrinking Violet in hating privet flowers. Sorry if I'm getting boring, this is the third thread on which I've said this!! When I lived next door to a privet hedge I couldn't sit out and enjoy the garden while it was flowering. Remind me never to get a cat ;- )


I know what you mean about privet flowers, but the butterflies adore them.  I satisfy them and make me feel a bit better about providing something for the flutterbyes by gr owing one in a pot  (now ther is a surprise huh?) well away from anywhere it might offend anyones nose.  The flutterbyes find it, I don't have to - and it fills a rather dull corner quite well. 


i dont know the name of the plant.. but i pass it often and it is large shrub with white ball like flowers.. think it verbernum family not sure.. it absolutely stinks foul.

The response to flower ( any smells really) depends on nerve receptors so some can detect the sweet almond smell in hawthorn from the amygdalin chemical which attracts bees and under that is another chemical called trimethylamine which attracts flies and other insects.

Lamium uses both chemicals too to increase the plant's potential insect visitors. Some people can smell both and some can only smell the amygdaloid. Trimethylamine is the smell of animal decay and infections so count yourself lucky if you can't smell it in blossoms!

When I was pregnant my husband bought me a bunch of flowers with lillies in. After a while the smell made me feel so sick he had to take them out. Ever since I haven't been able to stand the smell.

Shrinking Violet

Jengil - I sympathise, though for me it wasn't a plant smell but a perfume:  Poison.  It was so heavy and sickly that I had to ask a member of staff not to wear it because it affected me so badly.  And I can't stand it to this day.  (fortunately, it's not particularly popular, I think.  A bit like Brut aftershave - yuk!) 

Sorry - drifted away from plant smells.  But I can remember only too well that perfume smell nearly a quarter of a century ago!!!!

Pheromones and hormones are linked, so your experience Jengil is quite usual in pregnancy. Higher hormone levels mean heightened reactions to strong smells and tastes. These leave a nerve memory ' marker' on the receptors which is why whiffs evoke such powerful and vivid memories.

Maybe part of our survival story - evolved to help us remember what to leave well alone and what was ok to use or eat again?


hi , yes the box is smelly, i didn't realise that the smell was actually from the plant, i thought that cats/foxes were to blame by senting their territory, silly me,(lol) also i need help with the box just bought 2 topiary's in a pot cone shape, but one of them all down one side is changing colour from green to tan colour looks like its dying but at the top it is shooting a little too!!??!! what would i of done to course this, its watered well,they are by the front door south facing, only had them 3 wks, they stand about 2 ft high from rim of pot.
from one happy gardener. thank you .
Sorry, but It sounds like your new purchases may have box blight - a really virulent disease that is often hard to catch early. It may start with 1 or 2 rust coloured leaves which pass unnoticed as all plants lose the odd leaf. Some patches may die whilst other growth looks ok, unfortunately the whole plant will ice eventually. Plants should be destroyed or burnt, definitely not composted. Hope this has helped a little. As for nasty smelling plants, I hate the smell of tomato foliage, and geraniums - yuk!
Meant to say plants "will eventually die", in last post, sorry, it is late
I love the smell of lillies and cordyline australis flowers, but my husband hates them. The smell irritates his nose so much we had to get rid of the cordyline. I refuse to get rid of my lillies tho. You could smell the cordyline flower in the house if the doors or windows were open. Hubbys not too happy tho as next door neighbour has planted one quite close to our fence, so he will not be able to get away from it !

thank you daisybird. that has really helped, shall be taking the box back only had it for two wks. and yes i realised what you meant ice/die . how can it be treated if its caught early?