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  • The Xeric Gardner | David Salman

David's Top 10 Fragrant & Aromatic Plants

Planting aromatic and fragrant perennials adds a sensory experience to complement the visual elements of color and texture. Here are my top ten picks for fragrant and aromatic perennials to add to your plant shopping list. What’s the difference?

  • Aromatic plants, like perennial culinary herbs (rosemary and lavender) and many other plants, produce essential oils that are released when touching the foliage and flowers. Aromatic plants are rabbit and deer resistant because the aromatic oils are very bitter.

  • Fragrant plants have flowers that release a fragrance into to the air.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Sharon Roberts' (Sharon Roberts English Lavender) – a favorite English lavender that’s a twice bloomer. Early summer flowers are followed by re-bloom in early fall. The plant also has a stunning, elongated, strongly bi-colored flower spikes and a strong, sweet lavender fragrance.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Sharon Roberts'

Phlox paniculata 'Jeane' (Jeane Garden Phlox) – this cultivar was selected from one of most popular eastern US native perennials, the tall garden phlox. The large clusters of pink flowers are deliciously fragrant and highly attractive to butterflies. Blooming in mid-summer, it brings valuable color to the Dog Days of summer.

Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop) – the very best of the genus, this durable, unique looking perennial wildflower blooms in late summer with orange tubular flowers held by lavender-pink calyxes. The entire plant is powerfully aromatic releasing a refreshingly scented blend of licorice and mint. Hummingbirds love it!

Calamintha nepatoides 'White Cloud' (Calamint) – an Old World perennial herb has a powerfully aromatic mint scent. As the name implies, hundreds of tiny white flowers are held on tall whispy flowers spikes creating a white cloud of bee attracting flowers. Plant with English lavender; these two different perennials enjoy the same growing conditions.

FlowerKisser® AZ Beauty Coyote Mint (Monardella odoratissima) – the aromatic leaves and flowers of this western native have the irresistible scent of sweet mint. Long blooming, the lavender-pink, button-shaped flowers are a magnet for adult butterflies.

Berlandiera lyrata (Chocolate Flower) – native to New Mexico, Berlandiera blooms all summer with cheerful yellow daisies that have an intense chocolate fragrance. Step outside into your garden on a still morning and inhale the delicious scent.

Verbena canadensis ‘Snowflurry’ (White Verbena) – Clusters of pure white flowers cover this mounding groundcover and perfume the garden with their sweet fragrance. Blooming spring, summer and fall, ‘Showflurry’ is great in the garden and as a spiller in containers. Butterflies love the nectar-rich flowers too.

FlowerKisser® Dark Shadows Sage (Salvia hybrid) - a seedling of my favorite Salvia, Raspberry Delight®, this purple flowering bush sage is highly aromatic with its flowers and foliage releasing sweet herbal bouquet when brushed or touched. Blooming for several months beginning in mid-summer the nectar-rich flowers are an absolute favorite of hummingbirds.

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Santa Fe Dark Blue’ (Rosemary) – with dark blue early spring flowers, the thin evergreen foliage is oily and strongly aromatic. Great for culinary use.

Teucrium aroanum (Grey Creeping Germander) – this fantastic groundcover has aromatic evergreen foliage and very fragrant pink flowers that smell of honey. A tough xeric perennials for hot, sunny locations.

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