Consumer Qs

What flowers are most fragrant?

by Special Reports

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Submitted Photo

The sweet perfume of the gardenia is one of the most beloved of flower fragrances.

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Question: I want a fragrant garden. What flowers are the most fragrant?

Answer: There are many fragrant flowers. Here are a few shrubs, trees, vines, annuals and perennials to consider: banana shrub, gardenia, wintersweet, witch-hazel, winter daphne, winter honeysuckle/sweet-breath-of-spring, Carolina jessamine, sweet-bubby bush/sweetshrub, Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii), fragrant snowball (Viburnum x carlcephalum), Southern magnolia, sweet bay magnolia, Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume), Alabama azalea (Rhododendron alabamense), sweet azalea, (Rhododendron arborescens), pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), tea olive, narcissus, snapdragon, night-blooming jasmine, mock orange, tuberose, hardy ginger/butterfly ginger, cottage pinks/perennial dianthus, bearded iris, phlox, peony, four-o’clock, stock, old-fashioned petunia and flowering tobacco/nicotiana. Japanese honeysuckle has a delightfully sweet fragrance, but is so prone to take over and become a serious weed that we don’t recommend planting it. Also, it is widespread enough that you will probably come upon it without growing it yourself.

Many roses are fragrant, especially old varieties like ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ but many newer varieties such as ‘Double Delight,’ ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ ‘Scentimental,’ ‘Memorial Day,’ ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Fragrant Cloud’ are also known for their fragrances.

Fragrance can be subjective. What delights one person’s nose you may find heavy and cloying, and you may like a fragrance outdoors but be overpowered by it after several hours in a closed room.

Also, fragrance varies with the time of day. Banana shrub blooms have little fragrance in the morning but smell like banana Popsicles in the afternoon. Sweet-bubby bush also may seem scentless in the morning, but in the warmth of an April afternoon it releases an enigmatic fragrance that may be a mix of apples, cantaloupes, strawberries and spices. Four-o’clocks, night-blooming jasmine, hardy ginger, nicotiana and petunias are flowers that don’t release much or, in some cases, any fragrance until evening. Don’t decide against one just because you are shopping in the morning!

A horticulturist at your nursery or garden center can help you with your choices so you will have fragrance through the year. And don’t forget to consider plants with fragrant leaves such as scented geraniums and herbs.

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Question: What is the tree with the seeds that spin like helicopter blades when they fall? The seeds have a papery wing shaped like a rudder or feather.

Answer: You are probably thinking of a maple. There are numerous species of maples. Among the most common ones are our native red maple, silver maple, sugar maple, Southern sugar maple and box elder. (The box elder is a maple that has divided leaves unlike a typical maple.) There are also introduced species such as the popular Japanese maple.

The winged seeds of maples are a joy to watch as they spin down from the tree. These aerial maneuvers are not just for our enjoyment, however, but help distribute the seeds over a broader area.

Many adults have happy memories as children of watching falling maple seeds, gathering them and throwing them back into the air. We know of one creative bride who collected maple seeds and had a flower girl throw them instead of flower petals as she walked down the aisle – a way of connecting childhood and adulthood and creating another happy memory.

* * *

Question: Will adding sugar to the planting hole make my tomatoes sweeter? What about adding eggshells to the soil when planting tomatoes? I have heard this helps the plants.

Answer: Adding sugar to the soil will not make your tomatoes sweeter. Some people claim adding sugar, syrup or molasses to the planting hole will lessen the problems caused by nematodes. We have not seen any scientific evidence about the effectiveness of this, however, and recommend nematode-resistant varieties, rotation with non-susceptible crops, solarization or adding organic matter to the soil to help combat nematode problems if you have them. And it is better to pour molasses on hot biscuits than into the ground.

Very finely crushed eggshells added to the soil at planting can provide some of the calcium tomatoes need to help prevent blossom-end rot. The eggshells could be beneficial for peppers and eggplants as well for the same reason. Proper soil pH, nutrients and adequate moisture are required for preventing blossom-end rot.




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