Your patio is the ideal place to bring people together and make memories. Backyard parties, barbecues, and fire-side evenings are perfect ways to utilize your patio and those beautiful summer days. Make these moments even more memorable by adding wonderful fragrances and a splash of natural color to your backyard space. Bring the following plants to your patio and enjoy the benefits they yield.
Most of the listed plants are easy to care for and can be found in nearby greenhouses or plant nurseries. Others may be more exotic and costly, but definitely worth the hassle! For more advanced gardeners, there are strategies to ensure that your patio remains fragrant throughout all of spring and summer. If you are a beginner, no worries! There are plenty of plants that will also bring a delightful smell to your patio that are easy to care for. Plants that grow large should be planted alongside your patio, whereas smaller plants can be put into pots and be placed on your patio. Make the patio season great!
22 aromatic plants to keep by your patio:
Personally, I love the smell of basil. It has a strong, savory aroma that goes well with scented geraniums. There are several varieties of basil that each smell unique, so you can experiment with which kinds appeal to you. Basil is easy to care for because it only needs full sun and well drained soil.
Bee balm smells sweet and exotic. It also looks exotic with unique flowers in shades of purple, white, pink, and even red. As the name suggests, it attracts bees and other pollinators. Yay! It grows best in USDA zones 3-9 and thrives in moist, well drained soil.
Catnip and Cat mint
Until recently, I didn’t know that cat mint existed. I’m very familiar with catnip and its sweet, minty smell. Catnip isn’t as pretty as cat mint with its decorative purple flowers. Another difference between the two is that only catnip makes cats go “crazy.” Some consider catnip’s rapid and unruly growth to be annoying, so when considering which of these to plant by your patio, I suggest cat mint. Caring for these plants is easy. They do well in mostly sun (however, from personal experience, catnip will grow in shade) and in USDA zones 3-9.
Not only are freesias visually appealing, they also have a lovely smell. Keep these pretty flowers by your patio and enjoy their sweet perfume. Freesias in zones 8 or lower are grown only as annuals during spring and summer months, but will survive winter in zones 9 or higher. They like full sun and well drained soil.
Gardenias have delicate, rose-like flowers that smell amazing. Their scent is very sweet and welcoming, almost like jasmine and rose, as they are in the same family. Gardenias require warm and humid weather, usually in zones 8-11, otherwise they must be brought inside during winter. If your patio gets bright, diffused light then you can add this attractive plant to your patio.
Some geraniums have an unpleasant smell; however, there is a plethora of hybrid geraniums that will make your patio smell lovely. Some popular varieties include citronella, rose, mint, and sweet scented geraniums. They thrive in bright light and moist soil.
The culinary ginger plant is popular for its spicy roots. Its cousin, the ginger lily, also has edible roots but is more known for its uplifting fragrance. The ginger lily’s fragrance is very strong and will effectively make any space smell pleasant. Ginger lilies enjoy moist soil and partial shade or sun. In zones 6 or less it won’t survive winter and must be brought in or grown as an annual.
Honeysuckle is a sweet smelling flower that reminds me of summer. Who doesn’t love the taste of honeysuckle nectar? Honeysuckle can be found in both shrub or vine varieties. Bring the summer smell of honeysuckle to your patio by growing the vines on a trellis or planting the shrub in an area where you have a little more space. It requires well drained soil and sun and grows in zones 4-9.
Hyacinths are charming flowers that grow in shades of purple, pink, and white. They smell soft and floral and are a sure sign of spring. There is no better way to kick off summer than with these delightful flowers filling your patio area with their fragrance. Hyacinths grow well in sun to part shade and require well drained soil. They are winter hardy in zones 4-9.
With lacy white flowers and a rich scent, Jasmine is the ideal plant to give your patio a touch of elegance. If you decide to buy a jasmine plant, make sure that it is scented because not all jasmine plants have a smell to them. This tropical plant grows best in well drained soil. Some species can survive in zone 6, but most do best in zones 9 and 10. In colder climates, bring your jasmine indoors in winter; it makes a beautiful house plant.
Lavender is renowned for its healing properties; simply smelling this flower is said to calm one’s nerves. Lavender smells strong, but pleasant. I highly recommend adding this flower to your patio to learn about its benefits and pleasant scent. It needs full sun and well drained soil. Lavender thrives in zones 5-9, but from personal experience, it also thrives (as a perennial) in zone 4. Humidity is not a friend of lavender, but it can be grown in more humid climates. Keep in mind that it won’t grow as well in high humidity as it does in arid climates.
Lemon balm is a wonderful herb in the mint family that has many healing properties. It is often used in tea, and it smells amazing! I love lemon balm for its sweet lemon aroma. Think of old fashioned lemon drops and you’ll know what I mean. Its scent is released when the leaves are rubbed or picked, so I suggest keeping a pot of lemon balm on a table where you or guests can rub its leaves or use it in tea regularly. Lemon balm does well in sun or partial shade with well drained soil. It survives in zones 4-9.
Lemon grass, like lemon balm, releases a wonderful lemon aroma when rubbed or picked. Both are known for repelling mosquitoes but only work when their citronella oil smell is released. Lemon grass is a tropical grass that will only survives winter in zones 9 or warmer. However, it still grows as an annual in colder climates. Lemon grass does well in sun.
Lilacs remind me of late spring evenings and the coming of summer. I love their sweet, rose-like aroma. Lilacs are a bush and a tree that grow very large. Because of their size, I would suggest planting only the bush near patios and trees in yards or along fence lines. However, when they are well trimmed, both stay at a reasonable size. These purple, pink, and white bunches of flowers bring a wonderful aroma when they bloom. Lilacs do well in the sun and grow in zones 3-9.
Though not all lilies are scented or smell pleasant, the ones that do have a nice smell are definitely worth having. Not only do they smell amazing, they look beautiful and exotic, too. Some scented varieties include oriental lilies, madonna lilies, and trumpet lilies. Many varieties grow tall and need to be staked, especially if you live in an area with high wind. They grow well in zones 4-8 and enjoy full sun to part sun.
Mint is a wonderful plant to have near and on patios because of its diversity of smells. Orange mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, and pineapple mint are just a few of the varieties. Mint is known for its distinct, cool smell. Most varieties are very hardy and grow as perennials in zones 3-11. Mint does well in sun and shade, as it is very adaptable; wet soil is best, but I have several plants that survive long periods without rain. It spreads very easily, usually by rhizomes. I advise putting mint in a pot because of its tendency to spread so easily, unless you’re like me and enjoy a large (and unkillable) bush of invasive mint. 🙂
Peonies are one of my favorite flowers! I love their large, lacy blooms and their soft, fresh fragrance. Peonies have pastel pink, white, yellow, and red flowers. They grow to be similar to a shrub and thrive in zones 3-8. Peonies don’t like to be moved and do best in sun. With the sun comes their gorgeous blooms!
Petunias are the perfect flower to have near any patio. They do well in hanging baskets, pots, or in the ground. Research shows that petunias release a sweet fragrance in the evening to attract pollinators. When I began to research fragrant flowers, I went out into the garden and smelled the petunias. At the time, (about noon) I couldn’t smell anything. However, I went back out before dusk and our garden smelled fabulous! Many flowers close in the evening, so keep the summer fragrances going by putting petunias on your patio. Petunias are perennials in zones 9-11 but will survive as annuals in zones with warm summers. They do well in full sun to partial shade.
Obviously, roses are very aromatic (and romantic) and are a great bush to keep by your patio. Roses come in a range of colors, sizes, and shapes. They do best in sun to partial shade and, depending on the variety, will survive winters in zones 4-11.
Sage is an acquired smell. Sage is redolent of pine with notes of citrus. Many people find its scent too harsh and woodsy, but I love it. There are several different varieties including garden sage, russian sage, and sagebrush. Each type is different and smells unique. I prefer the smell of sagebrush over garden sage. Sagebrush and russian sage will grow large and bush-like, but garden sage (which is also edible) stays smaller and can be put into a pot. Most sage does well in a sunny position and well drained soil. If you enjoy the smell of pine trees and citrus, then sage is a perfect addition to your patio.
Sweet peas grow dainty flowers that smell magnificent. They come in a wide variety of colors. Trellises are needed for these pretty flowers, but dwarf varieties do well without. Sweet peas like sun with cool days and nights.
Tulips are a popular spring flower with a unique fragrance and a wide range of colors. Nothing says spring like the perfume of tulips. They like bright sun and well drained soil. Tulips do well in zones 3-8 and are usually planted several weeks before the frost comes in autumn.
When these flowers are planted strategically, you will have memorable patio fragrances that last through spring and summer. For example, plant bulbs ahead of time so that they bloom throughout spring. While the bulbs are blooming, your herbs (such as mint, lavender, basil, and sage) and larger flowers will be growing to bloom and smell good throughout summer. Good luck!