17 favorite fragrant blossoms
Star-shaped reddish purple flowers appear in large dramatic clusters in early spring. The scent is spicy sweet—the essence of spring. The deciduous shrub reaches 6 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide; it takes full sun, or light shade in the hottest climates. Most lilacs bloom best in regions with winter chill (Sunset climate zones A1–A3; 1–11, 14–16). In mild winter areas (zones 18–22), try Descanso Hybrids.
Single white to light pink flowers open in clusters from pinkish buds before leaves appear (in March in the Northwest, earlier in warmer climes), releasing a honey scent, especially on warm, sunny days. The tree, 20 to 30 feet tall and wide, likes full sun. ‘Thundercloud’ has purplish brown leaves. Zones 3–22.
Pink buds open to white star-shaped flowers in early spring. The scent is subtly sweet with a hint of citrus. The slow-growing deciduous shrub or small tree (to 20 feet tall) blossoms in early spring before the plant leafs out. It likes sun or part shade. Zones 2b–9, 14–24.
Small rose-colored flowers are white inside and grow in dense clusters in late winter to early spring. The scent is sweet and floral, like a warm Hawaiian night. A climbing vine reaching 20 feet tall, it’s sometimes grown in big pots and hanging baskets, or used as a groundcover. This jasmine takes full sun or light shade. Zones 5–9, 12–24; H1.
Small white flowers smell like orange blossoms with a hint of gardenia. The evergreen shrub (not a true citrus) reaches 6 to 8 feet tall, and takes sun in cooler climates but part shade elsewhere. Zones 6–9, 14–24.
• Roses: Make cuts above a set of five leaves.
• Shrubs: Cut flowers that grow in clusters, such as lilac and mock orange, before all buds have opened.
• Trees: Clip branches when buds start to fatten, making cuts just above a growth bud (take care not to disfigure your tree).
• Vines: Snip flowering stems of polyanthus jasmine, and remove the lowest leaves and blooms.
Caring. As you cut, plunge all branches or stems immediately in a bucket of lukewarm water. Before arranging woody ones (including flowering plum, lilac, and magnolia), remove the lower leaves, recut the stem ends at a slant, and make a 1- to 2-inch slit through the bottom of each stem.
Preserving. Fill a vase with lukewarm water, then add a floral preservative before inserting cuttings. Keep arrangements out of direct sunlight, and change the water and recut stem ends as needed.