Fragrant House Plants

Wednesday’s “Almost” Wordless Wednesday about the fragrant olive (osmanthus fragrans) , as well as some recent emails with a friend in Texas who’s growing oranges in her backyard (what a concept–that’s just something I can’t even imagine–having full-sized citrus trees the ground year round.  And yet, I know it’s possible in many parts of this country.  Sadly, I don’t live in one of those parts) got me to thinking about the importance of fragrance–from plants–in my life.

And of course, “fragrance” is in the nose of the beholder, so to speak.  I’m one who actually likes paperwhite narcissus and doesn’t mind the fragrance at all.  Others, I know, think they smell just dreadful.

But particularly in winter, when we are all so closed up inside, fragrant plants can be quite a welcome respite.  And the retailers actually help us along in this respect.

Flowering jasmine--not yet in bloom

Flowering jasmine (jasmine officalinalis) starts showing up in the stores in January.  For me, the scent of a jasmine in full bloom can be overwhelming.  I have wintered one over (or perhaps that’s “summered” one over) for a couple of years now.  Supposedly they are hard to get to re-bloom but my window must be cold enough that it will re-bloom at some point in the winter.  And like any of these “gift” plants, mine doesn’t come back with the vigor of a first year plant (probably because I’m not dumping chemical fertilizers into it, or growth hormones, or any of the other commercial grower tricks).  But in a way, that’s just fine.  I’d just as soon not have it overwhelming me with fragrance. Notice how it’s begun climbing the window divider and using it like a trellis.

variegated jasmine

For those who’d like a less aggressive jasmine, this one also flowers and is fragrant–and has the bonus of having very colorful leaves when not in bloom.  This is a “confederate” jasmine, trachleospermum, so it’s not a “true” jasmine but it’s still wonderfully fragrant like one.

Citrus, as I’ve already mentioned, can also perfume an entire room with just a few blooms.  Alas, I am “citrus-less” at the moment–but that can always be remedied.

Stephanotis, that staple of wedding bouquets, is a fabulous bloomer as well.  I’ve had these plants on and off, and never failed to appreciate their creamy, waxy blooms.

two oncidium 'Twinkle'

Even some orchids–most notably in the oncidium & miltonia families, can be fragrant.  For me, miltonias have always been spring or fall bloomers but the oncidiums are often winter bloomers which makes that doubly nice.  Here are two dwarf oncidium, known as ‘Twinkle.’  The one nearer the camera is already in bloom and the one behind has numerous spikes about a month away from bloom.  These are readily available.

There are numerous other plants that are fragrant as well–but this ought to give you a good start on bringing some fragrance into you life for the holidays and beyond.

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