Fragrant indoor plants: the best smelling plants for your home

These fragrant indoor plants will fill your home with stunning – and completely natural – fragrance

fragrant indoor plants: Hyacinth 'Delft blue' plant harmful to pets
(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

Fragrant indoor plants are a joy, especially in autumn and winter, when most outdoor fragrant plants have finished blooming. Whether you're looking for a subtle scent that you can only smell around the plant, or a powerhouse that will fill an entire room, these plants have the most beautiful fragrances – so good, in fact, that you might give up on scented candles. 

Most of these plants are higher maintenance than average, because they're exotic species. We think that they're definitely worth the effort, though. 

Check out our guide to find out how to care for common house plants and don't miss our house plant display ideas.

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. 

Buy gardenia now

Gardenia plant

(Image credit: Waitrose & Partners)

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. 

Stephanotis plant from Waitrose

(Image credit: Waitrose & Partners)

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. 

Zygopetalum 'Trozy Blue' orchid plant from Waitrose

(Image credit: Waitrose & partners)

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. 

best fragrant indoor plants: lemon 'Garey's Eureka'

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

Fragrant house plant #7: Hyacinth

Hyacinths are renowned for their beautiful blue blooms and a strong, powdery-floral scent that many people absolutely love. Mainly known as a spring flowering bulb, hyacinth can also be bought as indoor flowering plants for December. If you want them to flower around Christmas, buy bulbs that have been 'prepared' or 'cold treated' and plant them indoors in September. For spring flowering, buy them in the new year. 

How to care for hyacinths:

Because hyacinth bulbs are poisonous, you'll need to wear gloves when planting. Plant them in a pot or basket, being careful not to bury them too deep for the shoots to come through. After that, you'll need to keep them in a cool, dark place for a few weeks, until you see the shoots coming through. Water occasionally. Then, place them in a bright spot away from direct sunlight. When hyacinths have finished flowering, plant them outside for next year. 

Hyacinth 'Delft blue' plant

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

More ways to fill your home with fragrance: