By The Tropical Gardener…Chuck Nicholls, Master Gardener
Gardens can be multi-dimensional in nature since we have color texture, and size of specimen plants in our garden so why not consider a dimension often overlooked: Fragrance. There are several plants that will give everlasting fragrance that can be planted in South Florida. Below, I have listed several plants that one should consider when selecting amazing fragrances:
Gardenia (G. Jasmoides “Vetchii”)
This plant is a must for all gardeners who want wonderful fragrance in their gardens. The gardenia plant is adaptable to growing in pots or directly in the soil. The plant generally does not grow over 6 ‘ in height but can grow 4 ‘ in width. It will grow in partial to full sun and grows well in an acid soil. The cut flowers make a beautiful centerpiece by floating them in a low crystal bowl.
Stephenotis ( S. Floribunda)
Also known as the Madeguascar Jasmine or The Hawaiian Wedding Flower. Stephenotis is a vine without tendrils so it needs a trellis to obtain a beautiful growth. We are fortunate to grow this plant in South Florida as it loves the hot temperatures and humidity of our summers to bloom. The very fragrant tubular white flowers are often used by florists particularly in wedding bouquets. When not in flower, the beautiful glossy green leaves are beautiful. The plant requires a well-balanced fertilizer and adequate moisture at all times to grow well.
Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata)
This bush is one of my favorite plants that will perfume your entire garden for the whole year. This is an excellent drought-tolerant plant particularly good for butterfly gardens. This plant can be planted in sun or part shade, and can be pruned easily for a more uniform look.
Night Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturtum)
This is one of my favorite shrubs that can be planted in sun or partial shade. The fragrance is very strong so when planted in your garden, the neighbors will also enjoy it. The white greenish tubular flowers appear on the new growth and open up during the evening. While it can grow to 10-12 feet in height, it can be pruned to lessen the height of the plant.
Angel Trumpet (Brugmansia)
The angel trumpet refers to the large, multi-pendulous flowers that come in many colors including yellow, white and pinks. I suggest growing the small trees or shrubs in the background of other plants since they can grow to 15-18 feet. They often shed their foliage throughout the year and may go semi-dormant during colder temperatures. They require full sun to grow and bloom to their full potential. They are not salt tolerant so I would advise not planting them near the ocean. The fragrance is particularly strong in the evening.
Let’s not forget that certain herbs that can be planted in front of your border or in pots near the entrance to your garden. I particularly like selected basil, rosemary and mint plants. I purposely rub against them in the garden to obtain their wonderful delightful fragrances. Certain Cattleya and Oncidium orchid plants are also odoriferous. I will write more about herbs and orchid plants in future columns.
Many of the plants listed above are generally available at nurseries and garden centers in the area. Garden Works at 1501 E Oakland Park Blvd has many of the plants that I have indicated above.
You can learn more about fragrant flowers and other plants by attending The Equality Park Garden Club which meets at the Pride Center every third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM. The Pride Center is located at 2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors.
Chuck Nicholls is Past President and co-founder of The Equality Park Garden Club and founder of the The Annual Tropical Plant Fair held in Wilton Manors.