Fragrant indoor plants are a great alternative to buying cut flowers. Or perhaps you're looking for an alternative to chemical room fresheners? Real flowers are the most natural home fragrance there is, and there are several varieties that can, with proper care, do well indoors. Most of these are exotic species from the southern hemisphere and require a bit more work than the occasional watering, but the stunning, sweet-smelling blooms are totally worth it.
Fragrant house plant #1: Gardenia
We think gardenia is one of the best all-round indoor plants you can grow at home. It has gorgeous dark green, glossy foliage and spectacular, rose-shaped flowers that are snowy white when they first open, then gradually change colour to cream and then yellow. And the scent is out of this world: a creamy, white floral that manages to also stay fresh and even a little soapy.
How to care for gardenia
This plant does require a little more attention than other house plants; it's sensitive to temperature fluctuations (so don't place it next to a radiator or draughty window), likes plenty of light but not direct sunlight, and needs to be watered by being stood in a dish (otherwise, it's likely to die from a fungal infection).
High maintenance, but absolutely wonderful.
Fragrant house plant #2: Scented-leaved pelargoniums
Pelargoniums, more commonly known as geraniums, have been a favourite window sill plant for generations, and no wonder. Most varieties are prized for their brightly coloured flowers, but the scented-leaved varieties are worth seeking out for the amazing variety of photorealistic fragrances emitted by the leaves. From zesty lemon to the smell of Cola (yes, really), scented-leaved pelargoniums are a wonderful alternative to a room freshener.
How to care for pelargonium
Easy to care for and blooming profusely throughout the summer (and longer if you keep fertilising), all a pelargonium really requires is a bright spot in full sun.
Fibrex Nurseries have the largest selection of pelargoniums in the UK and ship countrywide.
Fragrant house plant #3: Stephanotis
The exotic stephanotis, much like gardenia, is a visually striking plant with dark-green leaves and white flowers. It's a climber and can be trained to form an arch, which makes for a very pretty display plant. The scent is powerful and most like jasmine (which can also be grown indoors but tends not to do well without fresh air).
How to care for stephanotis
Keep in a well lit position away from direct sunlight, and avoid sudden temperature changes.
Fragrant house plant #4: Scented orchids
Orchids are primarily prized for their colourful and unusual blooms, but some varieties are exquisitely fragranced (think a complex, subtle perfume). We especially like the variety Zygopetalum 'Trozy Blue', which has both the visual appeal, and a delicious fragrance in the mornings.
How to care for orchids
Orchids aren't grown in the same way as any other indoor plant. In their natural habitat, orchids use their strong roots to grip onto rocks or tree branches, so they should be planted in a very light soil mix that has been 'opened' by lots of pebbles, with lots of drainage. Water by soaking the plant in the sink weekly, allowing it to absorb as much water as it likes.
Fragrant house plant #5: Tuberose
The scent of this Hawaiian native (which is completely unrelated to roses) is so powerful and sensual, that in the Victorian era, it was considered bad taste for a 'respectable woman' to wear tuberose perfume. The scent is complex, with fresh, heady, and creamy aspects, and can be very powerful. If you grow tuberoses indoors, they will easily fill a large room with their perfume. In fact, the fragrance is so powerful that we think they are best suited to a conservatory or orangery.
How to care for tuberoses
Tuberoses love full sun and well-drained soil, so always pot them up in a pot with a hole at the bottom.
Fragrant house plant #6: Lemon 'Garey's Eureka'
If you've ever smelled lemon blossom, you'll know why it's on our list of top fragrant plants: the heady scent will easily permeate even a large conservatory. Not all citrus trees do well in cooler climates, and all need protection from frost. The 'Garey's Eureka' is a hardier variety and will begin blossoming in April, giving you weeks of delicious scent before you move it out to the patio for the summer.
How to care for lemons 'Garey's Eureka'
All citrus trees hate draughts, so your lemon tree will need a sheltered spot. A sunny conservatory is ideal, but a patio with a sunny aspect will work for the summer months. Feed every two weeks with a specialised citrus fertiliser.