Red/magenta blooms of Nicotinia 'Domino Red'

Five scented plants for May

We list five plants to grow for fragrant flowers in late spring.

May is a real highlight of the gardening year, with an abundance of lush spring growth and richly scented flowers.

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Nicotiana and sweet peas will provide fabulous fragrance in a sunny border, while perfumed honeysuckle is just the thing for a pergola or trellis. If you’re gardening in shade sweet woodruff is a great option.

All of the plants we’ve picked make ideal cut flowers. This will also encourage repeat flowering. Here are 10 cut flowers to grow from seed.

We list five flowers to grow for sweet scent, below.

Every garden should have honeysuckle, even if grown for its delicious aroma alone.

1

Sweet woodruff

White sweet woodruff flowers
White sweet woodruff flowers

Sweet woodruff, Galium odoratum, is a beautiful low-growing perennial. Small but robust, it spreads to form a lovely carpet of scented blooms. A good plant for dry shade once established, as well as damp shade.

2

Sweet peas

Violet and magenta sweet peas
Violet and magenta sweet peas

If you’ve sown sweet peas under cover in winter, you can expect the first, richly scented flowers in May. Don’t worry if you haven’t sown any yet, as you can still sow sweet peas in May, for blooms in late-summer and autumn.

3

Lily of the valley

Beautiful white bells and lush foliage of lily of the valley
Beautiful white bells and lush foliage of lily of the valley

Lily of the valley should still be happily flowering away in May. Perfect perennials to grow in shade, cultivars to grow include ‘Vic Pawlowski’s Gold’ and ‘Albostriata’.

4

Honeysuckle

A cream and golden honeysuckle bloom
A cream and golden honeysuckle bloom

Every garden should have honeysuckle, even if grown for its delicious aroma alone. It’s a great wildlife plant too. Bees and other pollinators will pay plenty of visits to the flowers, while birds will enjoy the berries and shelter it provides.

5

Nicotiana

Red/magenta blooms of Nicotinia 'Domino Red'
Red/magenta blooms of Nicotinia ‘Domino Red’
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Looking for a plant with evening scent? Nicotiana would be a great choice. The variety pictured here is stunning ‘Domino Red’, but Nicotiana alata ‘Grandiflora’ is said to offer the headiest scent. Follow our guide to sowing nicotiana indoors.