Wednesday, February 17, 2010

List: Houseplants Which Produce Pleasantly-Scented Flowers

I have to specify pleasantly-scented, because there are a fair number of unpleasant flowers out there, too (e.g. Gynura aurantiaca, Crassula muscosa). There are also potential lists to be written about plants with pleasantly- (or unpleasantly-) scented foliage, and maybe I'll get to that someday.

Instead of recommending for or against three at the end of the list, like I've been doing with most of the lists so far, I'm giving brief comments about each (ease of care, quality of smell). Suggestions for plants to add to the list, or differing opinions about difficulty, smell quality, etc. are welcome.

Cyclamen persicum (florist's cyclamen), at least some cvv.; possibly not all of them. SMELL: light, powdery, sort of pleasant but nondescript. EASE OF CARE: varies considerably depending on the person. Reblooming is said to be somewhat difficult. PATSP difficulty level 7.1.

Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana.' (corn plant; mass cane, massangeana) SMELL: overpowering, floral-perfumey. Plants generally have to be quite old before they will flower. EASE OF CARE: Easy as long as you don't overwater. PATSP difficulty level 2.6.

Eucharis grandiflora (amazon lily). SMELL: faint, sweet/floral. Flowers are fairly short-lived and appear in January; I haven't yet figured out the trick to blooming this plant indoors. EASE OF CARE: moderate to difficult. PATSP difficulty level 4.9.

Exacum affine (Persian violet). SMELL: light, delicate, floral, really pleasant. Extremely difficult to rebloom. EASE OF CARE: a lot of people don't even try to rebloom them. PATSP difficulty level: insufficient data for a number, but it's hard.

Gardenia jasminoides (gardenia). SMELL: just about perfect, delicious, sweet. Reblooming can be triggered by cool night temperatures. EASE OF CARE: For the love of god do not get a Gardenia unless you can grow it outdoors year-round. PATSP difficulty level 9.5.

Hoya lacunosa (shown), and most/all Hoya spp. SMELL: varies by species; Hoya lacunosa smells like a flower cooler full of roses and carnations. EASE OF CARE: about average for houseplants. Flowering requires a lot of light. PATSP difficulty level 3.3. Highly recommended.

Murraya paniculata (orange jasmine). SMELL: a lot like orange blossoms. Kind of heavy, musky. EASE OF CARE: slightly difficult. Flowers are not difficult to produce if the plant is otherwise reasonably happy: lots of light, water and fertilizer appear to be critical. PATSP difficulty level 4.8 but highly recommended anyway; a personal favorite.

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Moonglow' (shown), and other Sansevieria trifasciata cvv. (snake plant, mother-in-law tongue) Probably also most/all Sansevieria spp. SMELL: S. trifasciata smells like a funeral. I don't know how else to describe it. It's not unpleasant, but it somehow also smells mournful. Flowers don't appear with any particular consistency, but (in my experience) tend to happen in winter and summer when they happen, and plants won't bloom without strong light. EASE OF CARE: I have trouble with them during winter (either too much water or too little), but otherwise they're not bad. PATSP difficulty level 2.0.

Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls, string of beads). SMELL: almost precisely like Big Red (cinnamon) gum. There is a trick to making flowers happen, but I'm not sure what it is. EASE OF CARE: You've probably grown worse. PATSP difficulty level 2.7.

Spathiphyllum sp. (peace lily) (Not all varieties: only a few like 'Sweet Pablo' and 'Sweet Chico.') SMELL: powdery, light, faint, clean. Getting plants to flower is pretty easy: reluctant plants will usually start blooming if you boost the light level or add fertilizer. EASE OF CARE: watering can be tricky, but otherwise they're very accomodating. PATSP difficulty level 2.5.

Not pictured (NOTE: I did not try to verify odors, track down common or alternate names, or confirm indoor growability on the orchids, and there are a lot of orchids in the list -- thanks Andrew):
Aerangis cvv./spp. (most)
Aeranthes cvv./spp. (a few)
Aerides cvv./spp.
Ancistrochilum rothschildianum
Angraecum cvv./spp.
Barkeria spectabilis
allegedly Beallara Peggy Ruth Carpenter, though I have seen this one before and don't remember it having a scent
Bifrenaria harrisoniae
Brassolaeliocattleya cvv. (most/all)
Brassovola Little Stars, and most/all other Brassavolas
Brassia cvv./spp.
Brassidium cvv.
Brugmansia cvv. (angel's trumpet)
A few Bulbophyllum cvv./spp., particularly B. ambrosia (most others do not smell good)
Callisia fragrans (basket plant)
Catasetum cvv./spp. (some)
Cattleya cvv./spp. (most/all)
Caularthron bicoroutum
Cestrum nocturnum (night-blooming jasmine)
Cischweinfia sheehanae
Citrus/Fortunella spp. (orange/lemon/lime/kumquat)
Clowesia cvv./spp.
Cochleanthes cvv.
Coffea arabica (coffee tree, coffee plant)
Coelogyne cvv./spp.
Cymbidium cvv./spp., though I haven't noticed this personally
Datura cvv. (devil's trumpet)
some Dendrobium cvv.
Dendrochilum cvv./spp.
Diplocaulobium arachnoideum
Dracaena surculosa (gold dust dracaena, D. godseffiana) (Smell is not universally thought pleasant)
Duranta erecta, some cvv. (golden dew drop, sky flower, pigeon berry) Uncommon as houseplant.
Encyclia cvv./spp.
Epiphyllum cvv. (most cvv.?) (orchid cactus, night-blooming cereus)
Euphorbia drupifera (giraffe tree) Scent is faint and extremely hard to pin down, see post.
Eurychone rothschildiana
Gomesa crispa
Gongora spp.
Grammangis stapeliflora
Haraella odorata
Hyacinthus orientalis (hyacinth) (Not really a houseplant in any long-term sense, but forced bulbs are common enough that it kind of counts.)
Hylocereus spp. (pitaya, dragon fruit cactus, night-blooming cereus) (Scent is supposed to be faint.)
Iwanagara (Collierara) Apple Blossom
Jasminum sambac cvv. (jasmine)
Laeliocattleya cvv. (most/all)
Lycaste aromatica
Maxillaria cvv.
some Miltonia cvv.
Miltonidium Red Tide (but not Miltonidium Pupukea Sunset, which is said to smell like soap + hot garbage)
Miltoniopsis cvv. (some? all?)
Narcissus 'Ziva' (paperwhite narcissus) (I hate the smell, personally, but some people like it.)
Neofinetia falcata
Neostylis Lou Sneary
Oncidium Sharry Baby (see post) and lots of other Oncidium cvv./spp.
Osmanthus fragrans (sweet olive)
Pandanus utilis, other Pandanus spp. (screw pine) Plants have to be somewhat old and very large before they'll flower; some Pandanus spp. apparently don't flower.
Peristeria pendula
some Phalaenopsis cvv., particularly those derived from crosses of P. bellina, P. schilleriana, & P. violacea
Plumeria cvv., some cvv. (frangipani)
Rhynchovanda Colmarie 'Merlot'
Sedirea japonica
Senecio macroglossus (turtle ivy, cape ivy) Allegedly has a smell, though not in my personal experience.
Smitinandia micrantha
Sobralia decora 'Santa Barbara'
Stanhopea cvv.
Stapelia spp. (carrion flower) A few species are said to smell nice. (Most do not. You were warned.)
Stephanotis floribunda (Madagascar jasmine)
Trachelospermum jasminoides (Confederate jasmine)
Trichoglottis philippinensis
Some Vandas
Wilsonara 'Snowshell'
Zygoneria cvv., at least some cvv.
Zygopetalum cvv. (most)


Ginny Burton said...

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Confederate jasmine) is another fragrant plant that does really well inside and is easily found at any garden shop. Its fragrance is sweet and slightly musty, like a grandmother's house, but much less intense than the Murraya paniculata. I love my Murraya when it's outside, but have to pinch off its flowers during the winter because it's just too much for me. I have them both in front of a south-facing window all winter and they love it.

Liza said...

Huh, given its popularity at funerals, I would've guessed that the Spath smells mournful, not the Sansevieria.

Jean Campbell said...

Where there's a display of cyclamen, if there's a fragrant one or two, you'll KNOW when you come close. They're wonderful.

I was thinking of getting a trailing gardenia to try to encourage bloom in the greenhouse during the winter. Maybe I'm too ambitious. The big ones outside are not dificult in this climate; they're on their own but only bloom in June.

Andrew said...

My new Neostylis Lou Sneary smells amazing - during the day it somewhat resembles Jasmin, at night it's sort of like allspice (with less of a clove smell), though neither smell is completely absent during day or night, and it always smells good (Neofinetia falcata is likely the source of the fragrance in that cross and should be in any list of fragrant flowers).

My Miltonia is slightly scented during the day. Can't place it but it's not bad.

Also (for each this should be considered most or all spp/cvv/intergenic hybrids etc): Aerangis, Angraecum, Cymbidium, Miltoniopsis, Oncidium (Bonus points go to Sharry Baby in all its many forms).

I haven't grown any Zygopetalum but there supposed to be pretty fragrant. Some Phalaenopsis species (P. schilleriana, apparently, for some clones) and their hybrids are fragrant, though I haven't smelled any in person. Maxillaria are also supposed to be nice. Few Bulbophyllums (B. ambrosia at least) smell good, the rest would be on the other future list of plants which smell terrible.

And... Here's a 14 page discussion about fragrant orchids.

Commonweeder said...

I'm not really a houseplant person but I'm glad I followed a couple of links to find you. Lots of great info here.