TUBEROSES?  Just one flower stem can make a good sized room smell super “yummy”. They come up on tall slender stems that tend to lean after a heavy rain.  There are double and single ones and the bloom may reach 4 feet of white, shiny, waxy blooms coming out of the center of long slender leaves.  A single bulb looks dead and dried up so I never separate a clump until it gets quite large. They need a long period of time to go from bulb to bloom so I start mine in sphagnum peat moss about March 1st after storing them in the unheated basement room.

          ANNUAL SWEETPEAS are not especially popular but they too have an exciting aroma.  Our grandparents were more likely to have them climbing a trellis or fence near the back door to catch the smell whenever they went out. They prefer cool weather so need to be started as early as possible about 2 inches deep in good, loose soil full of organic material.  The perennial form doesn’t smell nearly as good, is more likely to bloom longer into hot weather, and their colors are limited. However, they need less attention. Annuals come in many more colors.  A friend of mine uses a clothes line for her crop. She uses fairly heavy string fastened to the soil and looped over the line from one pole to the other end and then goes back.  When heat fades her plants she cuts the string off, pulls the vine, and then composts everything.

          SWEET AUTUMN CLEMATIS lives up to its name blooming about the time for the first day of school.  It is a very vigorous vine that sheds seeds each fall to blow just far enough away to start a new plant. The vine can go in any direction, does well in full sun to almost full shade, can climb fences, trees, trellis, and telephone poles.  If not finding anything to climb, it will be a white groundcover. This fall I have one lying down in the gravel on the south side of the house. There is another covering the tree peony, another coming out of a hollow space at the base of the COTTONWOOD TREE, and all of them in bloom. Even after it is finished blooming and the perfume is gone, the seed pods are fuzzy and almost silver, covering large areas.

          Plants that not everyone likes for smell are the ARTEMESIAS. There are over 300 species, mostly found in dry fields, prairie and scrub land. My favorite is POWIS CASTLE ARTEMESIA, a woody perennial with feathery gray leaves. The first time I ordered one the company said they were sending it but it was not hardy here. So I took cuttings which grew easily. The last three years mine have been in the parkway by the mailbox and return every spring.  SILVER MOUND ARTEMESIA is a soft, furry like plant that usually droops with a bare center by fall. SWEET ANNIE (Artemesia annua) is a vigorous annual with better aroma than other ARTEMESIAS. The stems of Annie are quite often used as a background or wreath form for winter bouquets. The ARTEMESIAS are sometimes known as MUGWORT, SAGEBRUSH, or WORMWOOD. All are resistant to drouth.

          For a tall, fall blooming annual that opens up its perfumery in the evening there is NICOTIANA SYLVESTRUS. Growing about 5 feet tall with dense heads of long tubed, trumpet like flowers, SYVESTRUS will tolerate a high shade area and blooms will remain open longer in the morning there. Its seed is extremely small for so large a plant and there is much, much of it.  It comes up late, usually prefers not being covered, and hugs the ground to start and then suddenly shoots up.  Many of the flower tobaccos (NICOTIANIAS) have a perfume of some kind.  This is true of many night flowering flowers as they cannot use color to attract insects.

          My favorite early spring perfume comes from VIBURNUM CARLESI (also called KOREAN SPICE VIBURNUM). Light pink clusters appear on a shrub that may grow 6 feet tall in light shade. Our week of freezing nights this year destroyed all the blooms this spring. However, the shrubs look fine this fall. Several of the VIBURNUMS have fragrant blooms.

          For mid-summer perfumes the LILIES are a good choice. One EASTER LILY will perfume several rooms in spring.  By planting various divisions of LILIES the odors are available most of the summer. Many of them prefer light shade to make the flowers last longer.  There are LILIES from 12 inches tall to 8 feet tall.  For me the REGAL LILY has the strongest scent. STAR GAZER LILY is a very popular one with florists having star shaped red flowers without perfume. They are also a favorite food of rabbits that eat the leaves off as high as they can reach.  All my LILIES except the old fashioned TIGER LILIES have their own fences about 2 feet high of chicken wire.  One can have LILIES that look up, look down, or look out.

          Another plant that donates perfume only at night are the ANGEL TRUMPETS.  They are properly named as the blooms of white, purple, yellow, or pink can be single or double and may be 18 inches long with a flared skirt opening up at dark.  The bees are waiting to collect pollen.  For some time the trumpets were called DATURA. Now there are two groups, the other being BRUGSMANIA. You might find them under either name. They are poisonous, grow fast and bloom, rest, grow fast and bloom again and again. Since they are 6 feet tall by fall I generally take cuttings that root easily and grow too big before spring or you can grow them in large pots (18-20 inches) bring them in after cutting back and grow again the next summer.  Dampen the soil only occasionally.  My yellow one was in bloom at frost time last fall so I dragged the pot into the garage under a 300 watt light bulb and it bloomed most of the winter.  The garage is insulated so doesn’t freeze. I have started them from seed which takes weeks to germinate.  Spider mites consider them as dessert.  The garage smelled wonderful all last winter.

Copyright 2007