Archived Story

Plant for your nose

Published 5:37am Monday, March 25, 2013 Updated 7:41am Monday, February 25, 2013

Bunkey brought Petunia a mixed bouquet for Valentine’s Day. She put it in the middle of the dining room table so she could admire it.

Two hours later, Bunkey found the flowers out in the laundry room.

“Some flower in there stinks”, Petunia told him. “I can’t stand to have it near me, yuk — cloves.”

To Bunkey, they smelled fine. Of course, men don’t have the best noses.

Since fragrance travels in the breeze, you might want to be careful what plants you plant up-wind from the windows that are open in the summer.

There are a few flowers that smell delightful, to most people. One is Sweet Alyssum. Crystal Clear White will happily reseed itself.

Just shear it off when the temps pass 70 degrees. It will re-bloom in the fall and then drop seeds. The new cultivars, like Snow Princess are sterile.

Another nice smeller is Nemesia. They are quite low so put them in a hanging basket to get a better whiff. If you like the scent of vanilla, try Opal Innocence.

Masquerade smells like coconut to some people. Then there is Stock. Plant her next to a patio or a deck you use in the evening as that is when her perfume is most intense.

She is deer resistant. One drawback is that she doesn’t like hot weather and will pout until fall when the temps cool down. Of course, you probably won’t want to be out in sweaty weather either so it’s not really a problem. These three are all annuals.

If you want great smelling perennials, start next fall and plant hyacinth and daffodils. Two daff sweeties in particular are Grand Soleil d’Or and Sweetness.

All hyacinths smell great if a bit over-powering at times. They want full sun in a humus rich soil. Buy a pot this spring, enjoy till the blooms fade. Cut them off.

Water until the leaves die down then let the pot dry out. Put the pot away until fall. Just don’t forget where you put it.

Come fall, plant next to a path in the garden and look for them next spring.

Dianthus is another great perfume plant. They are cousins of carnations and like their tall friends, smell like cloves, an odor some people, like Petunia, just can’t stand.

If you are looking for an odoriferous shrub, plant the Koreanspice viburnum. It needs deadheading and a bit of pruning after blooming to keep it in shape.

It blooms in bright pink clusters that slowly fade to pale pink or white. It, too, smells like cloves, an odor that butterflies apparently like as they flock to it.

And don’t forget an old favorite — the lilac. Each cultivar has a bit of a different perfume — vanilla, rose or like honey, besides our old-fashioned beauty.

The nursery people won’t look at you funny if you walk around smelling their lilacs. They probably do, too, when no one is looking.

Lilacs come in many colors and sizes. Try to deadhead them if you can — an impossible task with a 12-foot near-tree. Keep the old-fashioned ones in shape by cutting the old stems to the ground.

She will reward you with flowers at eye level. Crawling up a ladder to smell the flowers is just wrong.


Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.


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