The Scented Herb Garden

scented geraniums

The Spruce / K. Dave

An herb garden offers multi-sensory pleasures. Whether you grow edible herbs or herbs for other uses, so many of them have a bonus of fragrance. Scented herbs include the popular fragrances of lavender, sage and lemon balm.

Besides cooking, fragrant herbs plants can be used for potpourri, oils, and lotions, or just to enjoy a heady whiff as you work in the garden. Often the scent of herbs comes from their foliage and is intensified when they are crushed or broken. Planting fragrant herbs where you will brush up against them when you walk by, is an easy way of enjoying a scented herb garden.

  • 01 of 10

    Anise Hyssop


    The Spruce / K. Dave

    All it takes is a gentle breeze to let you know when anise hyssop is in bloom. The licorice scent is unmistakable. Both the flowers and the leaves are perfumed and edible. Anise hyssop makes a great tea if you can fight your way through the bees that are drawn to it in number.

  • 02 of 10



    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Artemisia are such decorative foliage plants, that it’s easy to forget their wonderful scent. But one brush against the leaves and you’ll understand why artemisia are such mainstays in the making of perfumes. Two to try are Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) and Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).

  • 03 of 10


    Growing Fresh Basil

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    Basil is usually thought of as a culinary herb, but a listing of basil varieties tells you immediately that basil is a fragrant herb of limitless variety: 'Spicy Globe,' 'Cinnamon,' 'Lemon,' 'Lime.' 'Thai,' 'Greek,' 'Cuban'... It's hard not to devour as much basil as you can grow, but basil can also be a fragrant ingredient in potpourri.

  • 04 of 10



    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Lavender is a wonderful all-around herb; beautiful to look at, wonderfully fragrant, good for cooking and a deer deterrent. It can be difficult to grow in some areas because it does not like wet winters. However, there are many varieties to choose from and most gardeners can find one that will acclimate to their garden. It's worth the effort of experimenting.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Lemon Balm

    lemon balm

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Lemon balm lives up to its lemony name. The leaves smell and taste of lemons. But the plant can become a nuisance, as it spreads rapidly by runners. Although it is easy to pull out, it would be wise to plant lemon balm where it will have room to roam or grow it in a pot.

  • 06 of 10


    mint leaves

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    It's doubtful most people would enjoy the taste of mint so much if it weren’t so aromatic. You don’t need to ingest mint leaves to sense the tastethat’s how fragrant they are. And like lemons, mint has a clean, astringent smell. However, this is another plant that travels far and wide, by rhizomes. You could always use it as a lawn alternative or between the cracks of pavers, and enjoy the fragrance as you mow.

  • 07 of 10

    Nepeta (Catmint)

    Nepeta siberica (Siberian Catmint)

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    While you’re planting herbs for you to enjoy, you might want to tuck in a few plants for your cat, too. Nepeta’s fragrance is subtle to humans, but many a cat has been intoxicated by it. Be forewarned, you may plant it for your tabby, but every cat in the neighborhood will eventually find it.

  • 08 of 10

    Scented Geraniums

    scented geraniums

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Scented geraniums top the list of fragrant herbs. Most don’t have showy flowers, but their leaves are lacy and untouched by insect pests. And then there’s the perfume. Scented geraniums mimic some of nature’s best-loved scents, like apple, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, lime, mint nutmeg, orange, rose and strawberry, to name a few. It’s easy to be drawn into collecting scented geraniums.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10


    closeup of rosemary

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Rosemary is another herb that wouldn’t taste so wonderful if you didn’t first get a whiff of its earthy evergreen scent. You might not think you would enjoy munching on pine needles, but rosemary has that fine balance of gutsy evergreen and subtle Mediterranean flair.

  • 10 of 10



    The Spruce / K. Dave

    All the thymes are richly aromatic. There’s nothing like walking on a carpet of creeping thyme. For a bonus, try growing one of the scented thymes, like lemon or lavender thyme. If you can bear to part with some sprigs, thyme makes an unexpected addition to an otherwise unscented bouquet.