8 Sweet-Smelling Shrubs for a Fabulously Fragrant Garden

By choosing and planting your shrubs now, you’ll be giving them lots of time to settle in and prepare for next year’s patio season.


Fall is nearly upon us, and it’s the perfect time to start thinking about new shrubs to add to your landscape! Shrubs are excellent for adding height and volume to your garden design, but the best shrubs are the ones that do more than merely look pretty—these ones smell great, too! Add some sweet aromas to your garden with our eight favorite fragrant shrubs.


Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowalilac-shrub1. Lilac


Bloom Time: Spring or Fall, depending on the variety

As the unofficial scent of spring, these fragrant shrubs never go out of style! Beyond their crisp, irresistible fragrance, lilacs are also exceptionally versatile due to the many varieties available. Of note, fragrant French lilacs with white-bordered blossoms make for a stunning privacy hedge, while the more compact ‘Bloomerang’ cultivar is known for blooming twice per year—once in spring and once in the fall.




Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-rose-bush2. Sweetspire


Bloom Time: Early Summer

With its unique bottlebrush-like flowers, sweetspire is an early summer favorite. Also known for its pleasing fragrance and spectacular fall colors, this compact shrub is full of personality. Due to its excellent tolerance for damp soils, this is an ideal option for low areas in the landscape or for controlling erosion around creeks, ponds, and streams.





Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-korean-spice-viburnum3. Korean Spice Viburnum


Bloom Time: Spring


While lilacs are considered the queen of fragrant spring-blooming shrubs, anyone with a Korean spice viburnum in their garden knows this shrub is a major contender—the clusters of pink buds open to white petals and a strong, spicy-sweet scent that lasts all spring. Better yet, the popular cultivars ‘Spice Girl’ and ‘Spice Baby’ also feature exceptional red fall foliage!




Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-mock-orange-shrub4. Mock Orange


Bloom Time: Spring

This outstanding fragrant shrub is a vision when in bloom. Fountains of showy white flowers on lush green foliage make this stunner perfect for moon gardens. Due to their bushing habit, mock oranges make for excellent hedges, privacy screens, or foundation plants. If you’ve ever wished you could grow gardenias, this beauty makes a lovely substitute for our cooler climate.




Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-rose-bush5. Rose


Bloom Time: Summer

You simply can’t have a list of fragrant shrubs without mentioning this timeless classic! While roses are practically synonymous with ‘fragrant shrubs,’ not all varieties actually have a scent. There are literally thousands of rose cultivars in the world, so there’s a perfect hybrid for everyone. Some delightful options for our region include ‘Madame Plantier,’ ‘Double Delight,’ and ‘Roseraie de l’Hay.’





6. Witch Hazel


Bloom Time: Winter, Early Spring, Fall


You may be more familiar with witch hazel as a beauty product than a plant—it’s a natural facial toner and is used to reduce the appearance of bruises. The shrub itself is even more intriguing, with its unique yellow and gold fall and late-winter flowers that bloom before its leaves break bud. The fragrance of witch hazel is similar to root beer with its earth spicy-sweetness. In the fall, the foliage takes on a blaze of fall shades ranging from bold reds to buttery yellows. This shrub is so multi-talented; it’s practically witchcraft!



Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-clethra7. Clethra


Bloom Time: Early Summer


This summer-blooming treat lets off a spicy-sweet aroma, perfect for completing a relaxing patio ambiance. A compact shrub ideal for smaller spaces, summersweet’s candle-like flowers sit high on the shrub and seem to bring more light into the garden. This native shrub also attracts bees and butterflies.





Wallace's-Garden-Center-Fragrant-Shrubs-for-a-Sweet-Smelling-Garden-in-Iowa-northern-honeysuckle8. Bush Honeysuckle


Bloom Time: Summer


This pollinator-friendly cutie is a perfect choice for drought-prone gardens with sandy soils. Easy to establish, virtually maintenance-free, and teeming with cheerful yellow flowers in the summer, this fragrant shrub is a winner for just about any landscape—including slopes! On top of all that, you’ll love its red, purple, and orange autumn hues.





Already have these in your garden? You can find many more fragrant shrubs for Iowa landscapes at our Bettendorf nursery! By choosing and planting your shrubs now, you’ll be giving them lots of time to settle in and prepare for next year’s patio season.


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