Top fragrant houseplants

The best plants to freshen your home

It’s a well-known fact that houseplants can clean the air in your home but they can also fill it with a fresh and beautiful fragrance – if you choose the right variety.

Why spend money on chemical air-fresheners that have been cultivated in laboratories to create synthetic versions of the real thing, when the real thing itself is healthier and cheaper – and looks fabulous in your home, too?

Here are some aromatic houseplants – from subtly scented to flamboyantly fragrant – to make your home a playground for the senses. But bear in mind, most fragrant houseplants only emit scent for a short period, while their flowers in bloom. To extend your window of freshness, buy a selection of plants that blossom at different times. 

Scented geranium

Like the air freshener that releases a jet of fragrance when you press its button, a scented geranium will release a burst of beautiful scent into the room when you gently rub or bruise one of its leaves.

Care tips: This easy-care plant should only be watered when the soil is dry. It’s a sun-worshipper, too, so keep it in a window that gets lots of light.

Stephanotis
Madagascar jasmine

If you’re looking for a scent that will fill the room, you could do worse than invest in a Madagascar jasmine. More powerful than its delicate cousin, the polyanthum, the Madagascar emits a heady fragrance. As a climbing plant, it will be sold, snaking around a wire hoop. It can later be removed from the hoop and trained to climb an outdoor trellis.

Care tips: This plant likes a constant temperature, so keep it somewhere warm in winter. Refrain from turning your Madagascar jasmine too vigorously when adjusting sun levels as this may cause the flowers to fall. 

Orange blossom
Orange blossom

Looking for something zesty? Choose orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime. Citrus blossoms not only look pretty, they positively burst with sweet, fruity scent.

Care tips: Choose a sunny spot with no drafts and be sure to water frequently. Fertilise in spring and summer to keep your citrus in great health.

plumeria
Frangipani

If you’ve spent any time in Australia, the beautiful and distinct aroma of frangipani (or plumeria) will no doubt bring back memories of happy times in sunnier climes. A favourite motif on paintings and surf-wear Down Under, this pretty golden and creamy-white flower originally hails from surf-mecca Hawaii.

Care tips: Keep your frangipani in a warm, bright draft-free spot and move outdoors in summer to make sure it gets plenty of light. The Frangipani is poisonous, and should be kept out of reach of children and pets for this reason. 

PrimrosePrimrose

For a long-lasting, delicate fragrance and an equally delicate burst of colour in your home, opt for the primrose. Watch its long-blooming flowers fade from white to the prettiest yellow and enjoy the scent from early spring, all summer long (with the right care).

Care tips: Like the scented geranium, treat your primrose to plenty of sunshine and only water when the soil is dry.

mint
Mint

If flowery fragrances aren’t your thing, why not opt for the fresh smell of mint wafting through your home. Apple mint, lemon mint, peppermint and spearmint boast some of the most delicate aromas.

Care tips: Easy to maintain, your mint plant should be kept in bright, but filtered, sunlight, as too much direct sun can scorch the leaves.

Gardenia
Gardenia

A favourite among perfumers, gardenia is a regular ingredient in many of the most popular fragrances, thanks to its beautiful heady aroma. In return, be prepared to put in some effort to keep your plant at its sweet-smelling best.

Care tips: Gardenia thrives in a humid and very bright environment. Water and fertilise regularly in spring and summer. In the colder months, hold off on the fertiliser – and remember to keep it away from drafts all year round.