Best fragrant hedge plants – 6 perfumed shrubs for beautiful boundaries

Hedge planting needn't be dull. These hedge ideas will add scent, color and interest to the perimeter of your plot

Mexican orange blossom, Choisya ternata, is a good option for a fragrant shrub that can be used for hedging
(Image credit: Getty Images/Rosemary Calvert)

Hedge planting can be transformational in any space. Instead of dull fencing or lifeless walls, adding a verdant accent to your boundaries is not only attractive, but it is also good for wildlife, proving popular with birds, bees and butterflies.

There are many planting options to choose from, and several of the best hedging plants have attractive evergreen foliage, such as yew and laurel, or alternatively, attractive flowering hedges will produce seasonal blooms, such as forsythia or choisya.

What's more, some hedging options are renowned for producing a heady fragrance, creating a sensory and calming experience as you pass by. Here, expert gardeners share the best fragrant hedge planting ideas that can add scent to your plot this year.

Viburnum shrub in flower with white-pink blooms

Viburnum tinus produces delicate white and pink blooms with a heady fragrance in late winter

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jacky Parker Photography)

Best fragrant hedge plants

Landscaping with hedges is a clever design trick to soften the edges of your outside space with greenery. Before you decide on which hedge plants to grow, consider what your preferences are. If you are looking for a year-round, evergreen structure, planting a yew or holly hedge might be the right course of action.

If, however, you want a hedge that is floral and fragrant, we have put together a list of the best expert-recommended options.

1. Mock orange

Mock orange with white blooms

Mock orange shrubs have attractive white blooms with a sweet, almost spiced scent

(Image credit: Getty Images/Irina Pislari)

Mock orange, or Philadelphus, are fragrant shrubs that are native to North America. 'Growing best in US hardiness zone 4 to US hardiness zone 7, mock orange plants produce huge shows of springtime flowers,' says Gail Pabst, gardening expert and Marketing Director for the National Garden Bureau.

'With an appealing scent that is not dissimilar to orange blossoms, mock orange plants can be used as specimen plants or as hedging,' Gail continues. 'There are many new cultivars that come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 feet to 10 feet.'

Popular with gardeners, these flowering shrubs for full sun need good drainage and plenty of light, but otherwise are easy to grow, and will undoubtedly perfume the perimeter of your property.

Mock orange plants are available from Nature Hills.

Gail Pabst
Gail Pabst

Gail is a passionate horticulturist with over 25 years' experience in the industry. She is an avid home gardener too and loves to try out the newest varieties and techniques. Gail is the Marketing Director for the National Garden Bureau and her work has helped her to continue their mission of inspiring, teaching and growing in gardening with others.

2. Viburnum

Viburnum tinus

There are hundreds of fragrant viburnum species and varieties available, making this a versatile hedging option

(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography via Getty Images)

'There are many different viburnum species and varieties to pick from,' says Alex Kantor, gardening expert and owner at Perfect Plants, 'and many that are native to North America or Europe are hardy and resilient hedging options.'

When considering how to grow viburnum, plant care will be specific to each species, but generally speaking, viburnum shrubs grow best in US hardiness zones 2 to 8, thriving in sunny or partially shaded positions with good drainage.

One of my favorite viburnum species that has a pleasing scent is Viburnum burkwoodii. This species will reach 6 to 8 feet tall, so would be better suited to those seeking a low to medium-sized hedge. For a taller variety, consider growing the cinnamon viburnum, Viburnum cinnamomifolium, which can reach up to 20 feet tall.

Sweet viburnum plants are available to buy online from Perfect Plants.

Alex Kantor pictured with dog
Alex Kantor

Alex has worked in the horticultural industry for over 20 years and grew up on the farm since his childhood years. Alex is an expert on landscape trees, shrubs, and indoor plants. He is passionate about growing and helping others learn the trade. You'll see him driving around the farm with his sidekick, Cricket, in tow.

3. Lilac

A pink lilac flower on a shrub

Lilacs are romantic, fragrant blooms that herald the arrival of spring

(Image credit: Getty/Christophe Lehenaff)

Considered one of the best flowering shrubs, lilac plants produce colorful and fragrant blooms. When considering how to grow lilac, these plants do best in US hardiness zone 3 to zone 9, preferring a full-sun or partially shaded position.

'Many gardeners fondly remember fragrant lilac hedges from childhood,' says Gail Pabst, 'making these blooms nostalgic and romantic.'

'Until recently, only gardeners living in colder zones could recreate those sweet memories,' Gail adds. 'Fortunately, breeders took pity on southern gardeners, and have since created lilac cultivars that perform beautifully even in warmer climates, such as ‘Josee’, a small, reblooming lilac with a wide hardiness range.'

'In addition, lilacs come in a wide range of colors, including red, pink, blue, yellow, cream and white, so there is a lilac shrub to suit every taste,' Gail says.

Lilac plants are available to buy online from Perfect Plants.

4. Sweetshrub

Calycanthus blooming with red open flower and green foliage

Sweetshrub plants are deciduous, producing colorful and scented blooms in spring and summer

(Image credit: Getty Images/Yaroslava Pravedna)

'A southeastern native found growing from New York to Florida and west to the Mississippi River, sweetshrub - also known as Carolina allspice - is a gardener’s dream and an unusual option for those looking to plant a hedge,' says Gail Pabst.

I have grown sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus, in the UK, and it never fails to attract attention from passersby. Growing best in US hardiness zone 5 to zone 9, the flowers of this shrub are unique, appearing spider-like with long, narrow petals that are lightly scented. I have grown the 'Aphrodite' variety which has a deep red color and typically blooms for several weeks.

'These fragrant blooms smell like citrus, banana, strawberry, pineapple, bubblegum, or even gin, depending on whom you ask,' Gail adds, 'making this ideal for those seeking a fragrant shrub for the front of the house.'

'Sweetshrub is helpfully a versatile plant,' Gails continues, 'and grows beautifully whether planted in full sun or deep shade and can easily be shaped to form a low hedge.'

Sweetshrubs are available to buy online from Perfect Plants.

5. Pittosporum

Pittosporum tenuifolium with green and white foliage

Pittosporum shrubs are evergreen, with glossy green or variegated leaves

(Image credit: Getty Images/Nahhan)

Considered some of the best evergreen shrubs, pittosporum are tender plants that can be grown in US hardiness zone 8 and above. With shiny evergreen foliage, pittosporum plants can help to add structure and privacy to yards in warmer regions.

I have planted Pittosporum tenuifolium in different gardens across London, and generally, found this shrub to be resilient through the British winter. These plants respond well to shaping and pruning and would work as a fragrant hedge plant, with dainty dark purple or white flowers producing a delicate scent that tends to smell stronger at night.

There are many dwarf and miniature varieties of pittosporum, so be sure to select a taller pittosporum species if you are looking for a hedging plant.

Pittosporum shrubs are available to buy online at Walmart.

6. Abelia

White blooms of an abelia in summer

Abelia shrubs are long-flowering and scented, blooming from summer through to the fall

(Image credit: Getty Images/John Caley)

Abelia shrubs produce a bounty of delicately fragrant tubular flowers from June through until the fall. I have grown abelia as specimen shrubs and find that generally, they can be treated as evergreens in milder regions, holding on to their foliage through much of the year.

These versatile shrubs can be grown in US hardiness zones 4 to 11, preferring a bright, sheltered position in the yard. In addition, the flowers of abelia shrubs are popular with hummingbirds, bees and butterflies during the summer months.

I recommend planting several abelia shrubs within 3 feet of each other that will eventually form a continuous hedge. With a small amount of patience and occasional pruning, gardeners will quickly craft a floral and fragrant hedge.

Abelia shrubs are available to buy online at Perfect Plants.

FAQs

Can I plant different species together to form a hedge?

Yes, you can plant different and contrasting species together, and over time they should grow into a singular hedge. It is best to use planting that has similar growing requirements, such as lighting and watering needs. For example, growing lilac shrubs alongside mock orange shrubs is a good idea, as both have a preference for full sun and need well-draining soil.


If you are planting a hedge this year, consider adding flowering and fragrant shrubs to enhance your boundaries. Not only will you enjoy this, but so too will local wildlife. For more information on hedge planting ideas, consider our guide on planting a hedge for wildlife, to attract pollinators to your plot. Or, for hedge maintenance, read our guide on how and when to fertilize hedges.

Thomas Rutter
Content Editor

Thomas is a Content Editor within the Gardens Team at Homes and Gardens. He has worked as a professional gardener in gardens across the UK and in Italy, specialising in productive gardening, growing food and flowers. Trained in Horticulture at the Garden Museum, London, he has written on gardening and garden history for various publications in the UK.