As colder weather approaches, gardens wither and windows remain closed, but that doesn’t mean your home is doomed to smell musty and stuffy. There’s no need to resort to commercial air fresheners either, as the right houseplants can scent your interior space and add natural beauty.
Whether you want floral, fruity, herbal, or herbaceous scents, there’s a potted plant that can impart it. Additionally, research from the University of Georgia shows that many houseplants can reduce indoor pollutant levels and remove pollutants from the air, such as volatile organic compounds.
Before you head to the garden center to look for new houseplants, here’s a word of warning: Several of the most delicious scented plants are toxic to cats and dogs, capable of causing skin irritation, upset stomachs, and even death if consumed in large quantities. We’ll pinpoint the ones the ASPCA says households with pets should avoid as we reveal 14 amazing scented plants and offer tips for keeping your indoor garden looking and smelling its best.
enjoy the jasmine
Can’t escape to an island paradise? Bring a tropical vibe home with the sensuous scent of jasmine. While not all varieties are fragrant, white jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) yes, and it will bloom and scent your space all winter long. Despite its rich, heady scent, which is similar to gardenia, it’s not particularly fussy. It likes porous, well-drained soil, a somewhat moist environment, and a good amount of light (which does not need to be direct sun). Consider putting jasmine in a hanging pot; Like a vine, it will grow in beautiful intertwined trails.
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i love that lavender
Lie down in some lavender (lavender), close your eyes and inhale: you will feel as if you are in Provence, France, where purple flowers cover the fields and fill the air with a unique scent that is floral, herbal and woody at the same time. The scent is well known for its relaxing properties, making it a great choice for a bedroom or wherever you relax at home. Treat your lavender plant to high light, keep it out of drafts, and let it dry out a bit between waterings. Unfortunately, lavender is toxic to cats and dogs.
If sweet, floral scents aren’t your thing, move on with a bit of peppermint (mint)—A perennial herb first used in ancient times as a room deodorizer. Its shiny serrated leaves add a refreshing fragrance and can add a hint of flavor to foods and drinks. Spearmint is among the most popular of a spectrum of types. Give mint well-draining soil and an east-facing window, and keep it moist without overwatering.
Peppermint Wort: Pinch any buds you notice right away, as they don’t add odor but may indicate the plant is getting leggy. Peppermint essential oil is toxic to dogs and cats, and is likely to cause stomach problems if ingested in large amounts.
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Blooms with Begonia
Blooming season? What flowering season? tea rose begonia (Begonia X ever-blooming growers) produces beautiful pink flowers throughout the year and enhances any room with a subtle scent. A fairly hardy plant that is a good choice for a novice indoor gardener, Tea Rose Begonia can do well in partial sun, but appreciates humidity. Plant it alone or add it to a container garden and admire its good looks and delicate aroma. Warning: begonias can be a serious problem for pets.
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Scent with Citrus
It’s easy to imagine large groves of oranges, limes, and lemons, but citrus trees (members of the Rutacae family) can do quite well on their own indoors. The small white flowers and their fruits give off an unmistakable bittersweet aroma that is present but not overpowering. Citrus trees need high light and abundant watering with well-draining soil.
Choose a south or southwest facing window and a lightweight pot made of non-porous material, which will hold in some moisture and give your citrus the extra humidity it loves. While cats and dogs don’t like citrus fruits and may simply avoid them, the plants are toxic to pets.
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Oh yes, orchids!
Forget your reputation for irritability: long-blooming exotic orchids can be successfully grown at home, and the right variety will reward your efforts with an intoxicating perfume. Brassavola nodosa, for example, has white petals and a particularly strong and sweet aroma. Cymbidium, on the other hand, has a lighter lemon scent to go with its bright yellow flowers.
Obtain a soil mix developed for orchids and provide the correct light for the particular variety. As orchids flourish in a warm, humid environment, lower the temperature at night by 10 degrees to increase bloom potential.
Indulge in lily of the valley
Your home is your castle, so why not enhance it with lily of the valley (convallaria majalis), one of Kate Middleton’s favorite flowers (she wore it in her bridal bouquet). Its floral sweetness is tempered by herbal and woody accents, one of the reasons it’s popular in many perfumes, and those tiny bell-shaped flowers pack a powerful punch.
Grow lily of the valley in plenty of sunlight, potting soil mixed with a little peat moss, and moderate temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning: Lily of the valley flowers and leaves are extremely poisonous to humans and pets.
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The sweetness of heliotrope (arborescent heliotropes) is reminiscent of vanilla, though some fans claim its dark purple flower clusters give off hints of baby powder and cherry pie. It takes its name from the sun god Helios, so it’s no surprise that the plant insists on a sun-drenched location. Plant it with basic potting soil in a fast-draining pot and to keep the heliotrope happiest, house it in a somewhat moist area, especially in winter. Pets should be safe around heliotrope, even though the ASPCA lists it as toxic to horses.
Take home some Hoya
To reward yourself after a long day, come home to hoya (fleshy hole). Its showy star-shaped flowers give off a sweet scent that can fill a room, and the scent becomes even stronger at night. This tropical plant is easy to grow and totally low maintenance: simply water when the soil feels dry, and mist regularly to provide the moisture it needs. As a vine, hoya does well in a hanging pot to cover your digs with flowers and fragrance.
Cheer up with eucalyptus
People saying “feh!” For floral scents, you can give a thumbs up to eucalyptus, which is a member of the myrtle family. The oil in its leaves has a camphorous spiciness known to open up the sinuses, making it the perfect plant for a study or home office to clear away brain fog and improve concentration.
Eucalyptus is easy to grow, thrives in indirect light or full sun, and can tolerate cool temperatures. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and prune regularly to maintain a full, bushy appearance. Pet lovers, take note: The ASPCA says that eucalyptus is a no-no that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and (surprisingly) depression in cats and dogs.
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Treat yourself to tuberose
Bold and beautiful in both scent and appearance, tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is not a houseplant for the faint of heart. Its strong sweet smell has made it a popular perfume ingredient for centuries. A tropical plant, it should receive direct sun and plenty of water. Tuberose grows on a long, tall stem, and gardeners recommend cutting a few stems during the flowering phase. This will make the plant more productive and allow you to carry a bouquet into another room. Too bad tuberose is a poor choice for pet-friendly homes — it can make dogs and cats sick.
You might feel compelled to host an indoor luau with plumeria (Plumeria rubra) that blooms indoors: Its large, sturdy petals are often used in Hawaiian garlands. It also comes in a variety of colors and fragrances, from tangy citrus to sweet honeysuckle and pink. Plumeria is a shrub, so it requires a large pot and occasional pruning to keep it in shape.
Place plumeria where it can soak up plenty of sun, and while watering every few days in fall and winter should be adequate, this tropical stunner is thirstier in summer. Sorry, animal lovers! Plumeria, particularly its milky white sap, does not belong in a home with pets.
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Fade over Passionflower
As befits its intricate flower and romantic name, the blue and purple passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) has a seductive yet relaxing fruity-floral scent. The plant is a perennial woody vine that does best in full sun, high humidity, and moist but well-drained soil. It can get a bit unruly, so prune it back before it spreads everywhere; pruning will also encourage more frequent blooms. While the ASPCA does not include information on the toxicity of passionflower, several other sites state that it is not poisonous to humans or household pets.
Lighten with lemon balm
If you like the smell of citrus but don’t have the space or patience to grow an indoor lemon tree, try lemon balm (lemon balm officinalis). This neat perennial herb not only imparts the pleasant tart aroma of its namesake, but its bright green leaves bring a fresh flavor to soups, salads, and other recipes, making it a great choice for the kitchen. Set it up in a sunny window, using well-draining, slightly sandy soil, and don’t over-water.