10 of the most aromatic plants for winter

The colder months might be light on for sunshine but they can be a heady time for botanical fragrance. We look at some of the scented plants that will warm the spirits through winter.

Lavender, winter sweet, rosemary and Luculia all produce lovely aromas for winter.Credit:iStock

Daphne. Where else to start but with Daphne odora, which sports one of the strongest smelling flowers of all. Spicy, a bit clove-like and maybe a little smoky too, the flowers’ fragrance will not be contained. Plant the evergreen shrub near a window and let the perfume waft inside. The only potential downside will be the daphne’s finicky ways. Maximise your chances of success by choosing a shady spot with fertile, well-draining soil.

Luculia. Chances are that you smell Luculia gratissima before you see it, which is saying something because the flowers of this large shrub are not exactly diminutive. They are big and pink and abundant. And they are already in full, winter swing in central Melbourne. But you’re unlikely to experience these intensely fragrant blooms in cooler locales because, hailing from subtropical forests in the Himalayas, the plant can’t handle frost.

Boronia. The most bothersome things about boronias is how very fussy they are but treat this Western Australian showstopper right and you will be rewarded with its reviving, citrusy scent just when you need it most. Both the brown boronia (Boronia megastigma) and the more delicately scented red one (Boronia heterophylla) start blooming in mid to late winter. Like most WA plants these shrubs won’t put up with anything less than perfect drainage, and they also like protection from wind and hot afternoon sun, slightly acidic soil and a cool root run. Grow it in a pot and you can ensure all its needs are met and, better still, move it around so that the perfume is just where you want it.

Winter honeysuckle. The white winter blooms of Lonicera fragrantissima might only be small but they have a knock-out fragrance. They look best when they appear on bare stems, something that is not always possible in Victoria because this shrub only loses all its leaves in a harsh winter. Happily the perfume – sweet vanilla with a hint of citrus – is just as heady in relatively mild Melbourne where the plant tends to remain resolutely evergreen.

Lavender. Used to scent everything from baths to beds for aeons, lavender has long been considered calming. And now scientific studies have confirmed that it does actually stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain. It’s especially useful then that some lavenders, including French lavender (Lavandula dentata) will flower through winter. Position this woody shrub ­­– the stems and foliage of which are also scented – near the edges of paths so that you can brush up against it releasing its fragrance as you pass.


Winter sweet. Chimonanthus praecox won’t keep you waiting. This deciduous shrub is already unfurling its weirdly waxy flowers with their very lively perfume. Make the most of its scent by cutting stems and arranging them in vases indoors. But, be warned, this is not a plant that sails through hot, dry summers. Hailing from China, it needs moist, fertile soil and is best grown in relatively cool locales.

Mint Bush. While you can bask in the minty aromas of Prostanthera ovalifolia (oval leafed mint bush) or Prostanthera rotundifolia (round leafed mint bush) all year round, the leaves can wilt in a dry summer and are at their most perky in the cooler, moister months. A native plant that is perfect for high-traffic areas where you can regularly get up close and breath in.

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