Fragrant Foliage Plants: Zone 5 & 6

Posted in Annuals, Ground Covers, Perennials

Fragrant Foliage Plants: Zone 5 & 6

Recently on a gardening podcast, an interesting question was posed …

“What are the three favorite benefits you derive from gardening?”

The answers were as varied as gardens themselves … a garden’s beauty, a sense of accomplishment, growing wholesome natural fruits and vegetables, stress relief, and many more.

One participant finally added “a garden’s wonderful aroma” … and a thoughtful pause ensued, followed by universal agreement.




It might be something we take for granted, but the joy of a garden’s pleasing scent is unmistakable. Gardening adds so much to our lives, and this welcomed sensory experience is right at the top of our list!

Even better, gardeners have many options to influence the fragrant aromas of their gardens. There are thousands of plants whose flowers and foliage beguile the sense of smell …

Today we’ll focus on fragrant foliage, specifically those plants designed to thrive in Zone 5 and Zone 6 environments. Consideration of foliage is important, as plants produce far more leaves than flowers …




And while the scores of perfumed flowers showcase their scents in forward fashion, scented foliage plants tend to be more subtle. They’re not as direct …

Fragrant foliage requires a more personal experience … one beyond merely being present. Leaves generally release their scent when brushed against, touched, or tread through …

No matter your sensory preferences, there are countless options for fragrant foliage. Just like any other plant selection, a little advance planning is beneficial …

You’ll want to understand first which fragrant foliage plants do well in Zone 5 and 6 gardens (we’ll help you out with that one!). Then, you’ll need a sense of their “fit” in your existing space … how will they spread, what will they look like at maturity, and their compatibility with your other favorites.

Finally, the care requirements factor comes into play. Here at FlowerChick.com, we always lean toward easy care varieties, so that’s what you’ll see recommended …




Even still, every plant is unique. And with that usually comes specific care requirements for optimal performance. Be sure to give important consideration to this last important factor …

We’ll break this post into sections for you – ground covers, perennials, and shrubs. First, let’s look at fragrant foliage under foot (ground covers) …

Fragrant Foliage Ground Covers

Consider your garden’s traffic patterns when choosing suitable ground covers. By this we mean factors like children, pets, and other variables affecting durability concerns …

Make certain, for example, your ground covers can withstand a little good-natured trampling if your household includes active children and pets. Most ground covers can handle some rough housing, but it’s best to check …

With that in mind, one to consider is Roman Chamomile, which features not only apple scented foliage but also very pretty white daisies blooming in late spring and early summer. Very manageable and sturdy, the plant tops out at about a foot tall and works very well in just about any setting …

FlowerChick.com/fragrant-foliage-zone-3

Walk On Me Plant

Creeping Thymes are another good choice. There are dozens, if not hundreds of suitable species available. One specifically to consider is Caraway Thyme, whose red tinted foliage offers the exotic scent of caraway seeds …

Another is the Walk On Me Plant (really, that’s the name!) which is perfect for active gardens. The plant offers a beautiful crimson carpet in summer, an aroma of fresh thyme, and grows only three inches tall. It’ll spread out, so plant it sparingly. As an added bonus the Walk On Me Plant attracts butterflies and is deer resistant …

Creeping Thymes are excellent choices to plant between rocks or stepping stones. They mature to about 3-4 inches tall and typically bloom in early summer. These ground covers are drought tolerant and tend to thrive in well draining soil …

Both Roman Chamomile and most Creeping Thymes are perfectly suitable for Zone 5 and 6 …

Perennials With Fragrant Foliage – Zone 5 and 6

There are many, many perennials with fragrant foliage, but let’s focus on three in particular that thrive in Zone 5 and 6 gardens …

First is common catnip, a very easy grower that tops out at about three feet tall. Depending on the variety, their foliage emits either a lemony or incense like fragrance which you’ll find very pleasant …

FlowerChick.com/fragrant-foliage-zone-5-6

English Lavender

Next is English Lavender, an aromatic plant that does well in less than ideal soil conditions. A very pretty specimen, it features colorful violet blooms in summer and generally tops out at about two feet tall …

The English Lavender plant is a real example of “two for one” … both the foliage and blooms offer a pleasant aroma!

Finally, we like a couple varieties of hyssop, namely Anise Hyssop and Purple Hyssop. Offering licorice scented leaves, these two perennials are quite manageable, durable, and do well even to Zone 4 locales …

Shrubs With Fragrant Foliage

Shrubs can also add to your garden’s sensory experience, as many offer foliage with unique, fragrant scents.

Rose shrubs, of course, are an obvious choice for a pleasing aroma, but there are other shrubs that add a welcome touch to your landscape …




One of our long time favorites is Spicebush, a part shade loving shrub with attractive bright green foliage. It offers a stunning yellow display in the fall and an all season spicy aroma, true to its name, which adds an entirely new sensory dimension to your garden …

If your garden has room for a larger shrub, we suggest the Common Sweetshrub. The dark green leaves of this plant offer an intoxicating clove-like scent, almost dark cinnamon in nature. It grows to ten feet wide and eight feet tall, so make sure you’ve got the space for the plant to spread out a bit …

Five More Fragrant Foliage Plants

Here are a handful of additional choices for Zone 5 and 6 gardens. We’ve listed a brief description of each, including important characteristics like size at maturity and other features …

FlowerChick.com/fragrant-foliage-zone-5-6

Bee Balm – Fragrant!

Beebalm: The colors of the beebalm are top of the list of its notable features … you’ll be rewarded with bright pink or red flowers and a rich, citrus type aroma from the leaves. This plant grows to about three feet high maximum and will spread about two feet wide at maturity …

The beebalm, like most plants listed here, is available in several varieties so be sure to check yours if you have a color preference …

Bigroot Hardy Geranium: Sometimes known as “Bevan’s Variety”, this geranium features pine scented foliage. It grows to about 18 inches tall and spreads slightly wider.

We love the colorful flowers on this variety – they’re a light pink / rose color in the spring and darken to a more crimson shade when the cooler weather arrives …

Hay Fern: Owing its name to foliage that smells like freshly mowed hay, this plant is cold tolerant (it’s fine to Zone 3) and tops out at about three feet tall.

The spread of the fern is only about two feet, making it a popular choice that fits just about anywhere in your garden …

Lesser Calamint: A compact choice that grows to about 15 inches high and wide, this plant offers mint scented foliage and pink flowers that appear in spring …

Wild Ginger: Another cold hardy selection that’s good to go even in Zone 3 gardens, wild ginger is a small plant, topping out at only six inches. The foliage is spicy scented and you’ll pick up the ginger aroma …

This plant also features cute purple blooms that mark the beginning of summer …




Summary

As we’ve explored, flowers aren’t the only option for a wonderfully scented garden. Fragrant foliage plants add not only unique, distinctive aromas but also good looks for your Zone 5 and 6 gardens …

Remember, the scent of most if not all of these plants is “activated” by touch … when you brush against them or work amidst them, you’ll be rewarded with their understated scents.

Are any of your favorites not mentioned here? Let Flower Chick know in the comments below!




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One Comment

  1. We are building a home at 3500 feet elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Although we are supposedly in Zone 6, friends tell us that at the higher elevation you should plant for Zone 5. We are learning more daily about the area, and are looking forward to landscaping with a natural look, and also with deer resistant plants. I look forward to your newsletters!

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