Boost Your Mood with Fragrant Indoor Plants

January 1, 2024 at 7:46 p.m.
Fragrant plants, like gardenias, add beauty indoors, boost mood, and promote relaxation. Photo courtesy
Fragrant plants, like gardenias, add beauty indoors, boost mood, and promote relaxation. Photo courtesy Melinda Meyers


There’s no need to visit a spa for a bit of soothing aromatherapy. Grow fragrant plants indoors to improve your mood and promote a sense of relaxation.

Gardenias may be the first fragrant flowering plant that comes to mind. They can be challenging but are worth the effort. Grow them in moist acidic soil, in bright light, and surrounded by other plants or on a gravel tray to increase the humidity.

Jasmines are known for their sweet fragrant flowers. Arabian jasmine (Jasmine sambac) will flower indoors several times throughout the year if it receives sufficient light.  Consider adding artificial lights to boost flowering. Grow this plant in a warm draft-free location and allow the soil to dry several inches below the surface before watering again.

Citrus are valued for their fruit, but they also produce fragrant flowers. Give them bright light and keep the soil slightly moist for the best results.

Stephanotis floribunda was frequently used in wedding bouquets. Grow it in a sunny window and watch for flowers to appear in spring on new growth. Complete all necessary pruning as soon as the plant stops flowering.

Plumeria are the fragrant flowers often used in Hawaiian leis. Provide bright light, moist well-drained soil, and fertilize throughout the summer to promote flowering. Allow the soil to go a bit drier during the winter. Don’t panic if the plants go dormant and drop their leaves in winter. New leaves will appear as temperatures warm.

String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) is a trailing succulent with leaves that resemble peas.  Grow these in a brightly lit location that is a bit cooler in the winter. This along with slightly drier soil in winter can promote flowering.  Its cinnamon fragrance is one you’ll remember.

Another succulent that may reward you with flowers is hoya.  Keep the soil a bit moister during the summer when the plant is actively growing.  Allow the soil to dry slightly when the plant is resting during the winter.  High humidity in spring and summer followed by cooler temperatures and drier soil in winter will encourage potbound plants to flower. Watch for fragrant flowers to form on the long leafless stems.

Give the leaves of scented geranium (Pelargonium) a pet and enjoy the lemon, rose, apple, peppermint, or pine fragrance. Although grown for their scented foliage they also produce pretty but less showy flowers. Place the plants in areas where you brush past the leaves or can easily give them a pat to release and enjoy the fragrance.

Find a cool spot in your home away from drafts of hot and cold air for your lavender plant. Make sure the plant receives plenty of sunlight from a south-facing or similar window. Consider adding artificial lights to increase your success. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Pour off any excess water that collects in the saucer.

Visit your local independent garden center or reputable online plant retailers that are more likely to sell these in winter. Then clear out some space on a sunny windowsill or invest in a few plant lights and start growing some fragrant plants. 

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything” instant video and DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment radio programMyers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is

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