Spotlight Columns

Grow For It! Fragrant flowering plants

By Kit Smith
UCCE Master Gardener of El Dorado County

Fragrant flowers add so much to the garden. Before planting any plant, consider the plant’s needs in terms of irrigation, soil nutrients, sun, air and space. Find that spot in the yard and the plant will most likely thrive.

A summertime favorite is the gardenia; it likes acid soil and bright sunlight and needs summer heat to thrive and bloom. Plant high in the soil and avoid crowding its roots. Feed every three to four weeks with 4-8-5 fertilizer during its growing season.

Jasmine (Jasminum) prefers bright sunlight and needs the sun to bloom. It likes a good soil. This is the plant that typifies summer with its delicate aromatic blooms.

Lilac (Syringa) blooms in early spring if it gets an adequate winter chill. Plant this in light shade in slightly alkaline soil. It blooms on wood formed the previous year, so prune the lilac just when the flowering ends. Encourage new and young shoots by cutting a few old stems. Deer do not like lilac bushes.

Deer also do not like freesia, narcissus, lily, and hyacinth (Muscari), fragrant spring flower corms and bulbs. The freesia, a corm, has a sweet-smelling tubular flower. Narcissus is the proper name for the daffodil and jonquil. However, to differentiate: gardeners refer to the narcissus as a jonquil if it has a small cup and one flower per stem, as a daffodil if it has a large single flower, and as a narcissus if it has a smaller blossom and is very fragrant and multi-flowering. The narcissus likes the sun during blooming time.

Both the ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Stargazer,’ Oriental hybrid lilies (Lilium), are bulbs and grow four feet tall, so stake them as they grow. Plant these lilies in dappled shade so their roots are shielded from the strong summer sun.

Tall spires of double flowering stock (Matthiola) give off a magnificent cinnamon scent. Stock likes full sun and a light fertile soil. Sow seeds in March or April or plant in early fall for winter or early spring bloom.

Winter Daphne is beautiful in its look and aroma when it blooms in February. Daphne is fussy in its desire to be left alone. Plant it high in porous soil with air around its roots and where it will be in three hours of shade. Give it minimum water and care during the dry season to increase its blooms.

All gardeners are welcome to attend free Master Gardener Saturday classes; locations vary. Check our website for class lists:

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions at local farmers markets and also at the office Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling (530) 621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome. The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. For more information about activities visit the Master Gardener website at and

Special to Village Life


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