May is a real highlight of the gardening year, with an abundance of lush spring growth and richly scented flowers.
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.
Discover five flowers to grow for sweet scent, below.
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.
White sweet woodruff flowers
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.
Violet and magenta sweet peas
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’. Here’s how to grow lily of the valley.
Beautiful white bells and lush foliage of lily of the valley
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.
A cream and golden honeysuckle bloom
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.
Red/magenta blooms of Nicotinia ‘Domino Red’
Fragrant flowers for the house
All of the plants we’ve picked make ideal cut flowers, so you can bring the scents inside. This will also encourage repeat flowering. Here are 10 cut flowers to grow from seed.