Breathe new life into your interior space with a selection of scented houseplants. Perfect for a light airy room, such as a sunroom, these tender beauties produce beautiful flowers that provide interest for many months from summer through to early autumn. With care, they’ll repeat their perfumed performance year after year.
Native to a large area from the Himalayas to northern Burma, the wax flower, Hoya lanceolata subsp. bella, is a shrubby evergreen that features clusters of star-shaped, white, summer flowers with red centers. Although their scent is noticeable during the day, the perfume is particularly potent when night falls. The pendulous stems make it perfect for a hanging basket, or tie them to slim stakes in a pot. Another popular wax flower, Hoya carnosa, has long climbing stems, which can be trained up a trellis or a similar support. It flowers slightly longer, from late spring until fall. Both plants can be grown outdoors in the summer in a sheltered sunny spot with some protection from the midday sun.
Watering needs: Water wax flowers regularly while growing, during the spring and summer, and feed every four weeks with a balanced, liquid house-plant fertilizer. Occasionally mist the leaves to increase humidity around the plant. Reduce the amount of water given in the winter. Simple ceramic containers contrast well with the Hoya’s busy foliage and heads of small flowers.
Angel’s trumpet is a large, dramatic plant, ideal as a focal point in a sunny room. Often grown as a standard, the form ‘Grand Marnier’ produces a bushy head of green leaves that provide a foil for the heavily scented, pale peach, trumpet-shaped flowers that drip from its stems from summer until fall.
You can display Brugmansia outdoors in summer, but bring it back inside when night temperatures start to fall. Also keep it away from children and pets, as both the plant and its blooms are poisonous.
Annual care: Keep the compost on the dry side over the winter, then increase watering when the plant is in growth. Brugmansia is a heavy feeder and responds well to a liquid fertilizer every two weeks in summer. In late spring, prune to keep it in shape, and trim off dead or spindly growth.
Not for the beginner, the Cape jasmine requires a lot of care and attention, but get its growing conditions right and you’ll be rewarded with large, waxy, white, heavily scented flowers from summer until fall, held against a backdrop of glossy green leaves. Gardenia dislikes direct sunlight, so place plants on a west-facing windowsill during the summer and a south-facing windowsill over the winter.
Temperature regulation: The Cape jasmine is a bit of a diva and conditions must be right for it to perform. To guarantee a flower display, plants need a nighttime temperature of 59–65°F (15–18°C) and daytime temperature of 70–75°F (21–24°C). In the winter, plants prefer cooler conditions of around 61°F (16°C). Fluctuating temperatures can upset flowering, and plants should not be moved when in bud, as this may cause them to drop prematurely.