For a dazzling display of scented flowers, try a few annuals, such as the tobacco plant, Nicotiana and richly perfumed cherry pie, Heliotropium. Ideal for mixed displays, combine these scented stars with other brightly colored blooms as part of a summer plan. Where space is limited, try the spicy fragrance of alpine pinks as a decorative table centerpiece.
The flowering tobacco plant, Nicotiana, forms the centerpiece, its trumpet-shaped, scented flowers blooming until the frost. The unusual acid-green flowers of this annual contrast dramatically with the red leaves of Solenostemon, or coleus, whose fiery shades echo those of the scarlet trailing petunia, which tumbles down the sides of the container. Plant this group in late spring, starting with the tobacco plant in the center, followed by the coleus, and green Heuchera, and finally dot the petunias in the remaining gaps. Set outside in a sunny spot when all threat of frost has passed.
Color choices If lime-green flowers aren’t to your taste, tobacco plants are available in many other colors, including white, red, lilac, pink and purple. However, check your seed or plant packs, since not all Nicotiana are heavily scented. You could also watch for dark purple petunias, most of which are fragrant.
Some plants simply don’t live up to their names, but cherry pie does not fail. A bushy annual, its dark green leaves are topped with dense clusters of tiny purple flowers that pack a fruity punch that instantly reminds you of a freshly baked cherry pie. Perfect on their own in small pots or used as fillers around larger specimens, Heliotropium is easy to grow from seed sown indoors in early spring.
One of the most popular forms, Heliotropium ‘Dwarf Marine,’ reaches 14 inches (35cm), while ‘Baby Blue Improved’ grows to just 8 inches (20cm) making it perfect for window boxes. For larger plants, try x Hybrid Marine, which reaches 18 inches (45cm).
Alpine pinks make great container plants, offering dainty clove-scented flowers on sturdy stems above a mat of gray leaves. Partner them with other alpines, such as the creeping Frankenia, whose stems of rose-pink flowers will tumble loosely down the sides of a pot. Dianthus ‘Devon Flores’ has bright magenta, double flowers that echo the warm shade of the Frankenia blooms.
Pinks come in many colors, from white to pink and purple, with striped, flecked or bicolored flowers as well as single and double blooms. Easy to maintain, Dianthus are drought tolerant and need little attention, apart from watering a couple of times a week in the summer and an application of slow-release fertilizer worked into the compost in the spring. Protect plants from winter rain, and remove fading blooms to encourage more to form.