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Making Scents

Lake Havasu Master Gardner

Dottie Holman is a Lake Havasu City Master Gardener Emeritus

The definition of “aroma” in Webster’s dictionary is “a distinctive pervasive and usually pleasant or savory smell.” Pleasant scents though, are in the “nose of the beholder.” For example, the creosote/turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia). Crushing the leaves of this plant between your fingers can remind some of us of the scent of the desert after a rain shower, while others find the smell strong and offensive; thus, only your nose knows! Therefore, situating fragrant plants where their aromas can be enjoyed and allows the scents to be released, whether by wind or the touch of your hand, needs to be considered.

Scented plants come in various shapes and sizes, so the theory of the “right plant for the right place” is important.  It is counterproductive to have to cut back flowering branches because of the growth pattern of the plant or the chance of pollinators (bee’s) hindering your enjoyment.

There are many fragrant plants here in the low desert. Let’s look at some plants that can give us aromatherapy in the garden:

Flowers & Bulbs

Freesia, Iris, Narcissus, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum, Stock, Marigolds, Petunias, Dianthus, Geraniums


Roses, Lavender, Myrtle, Popcorn Cassia, Texas Mountain Laurel, Catclaw Acacia, Creosote


Pretty Much All Herbs Have An Aroma To Them


Chihuahuan Sage, Chocolate Flower, Sacred Datura, Salvia


Climbing Roses, Jasmine, Lilac Vine, Pink Trumpet Vine, Star Jasmine


Citrus, Sweet Acacia, Texas Ebony, Chaste


Tomatoes, Globe Artichoke

As “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is fragrance to the scents.  Search out what scent makes you smile, calms you or energizes you, brings back memories or takes you to your happy place.  Many of the plants mentioned above are container happy.  A great container mixture would be a basil or lavender plant surrounded by sweet alyssum and petunias.  Many of our garden centers have ready made up containers that would give you instant beauty. So sit back, breathe deeply, and enjoy.

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