Houseplants are selected for a number of reasons: because they are low-maintenance, clean the air, work well for kids and classrooms, or simply for looks. But what about selecting a houseplant for scent? We've got a few options for aromatic houseplants that may pique your interest. As with any houseplant, be sure yours gets enough sunlight, particularly if you want it to produce flowers.
Many begonias grow well outside in Florida; however, types like tubers, Rex, and Rieger begonias prefer cooler temperatures. Growing these (or any) type of begonia indoors is always an option. The begonia family contains more than 1,300 species and hybrids meaning there is likely a begonia that suits your style. Scented begonias include begonia Rex hybrids 'Fireflush' and 'Curly Fireflush' (pictured).
Citrus is one of those iconic Florida outdoor plants, but growing citrus can bring those tropical scents indoors. Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a sweet orange that can be successfully grown as a houseplant. Some other citrus can be grown in large containers like Key lime, kumquat (pictured), Thahiti lime, calamondin, and limequat. These plants will require bright light to thrive.
Herbs grown indoors bring benefits beyond the scents – you have fresh herbs handy for cooking at all times! Cuban oregano or basil (pictured) are deliciously aromatic and make great indoor herbs. Other herbs that grow well indoors are sage, thyme, and rosemary. Herbs grow best when grown in a sunny window.
Gardenia is another plant that is more known in Florida for growing outdoors, but it can also be planted inside. Many gardeners report that gardenias can be "fussy" to grow; perhaps if the gardenia is in your home under your watchful eye you may have more success. Gardenias need direct sunlight to thrive so keep that in mind as you place your plant.
Hoya is a classic houseplant that is easy to care for and has interesting, fragrant flowers. There are between 200 and 300 species of this succulent found in the world although Hoya carnosa (wax plant) is the most commonly cultivated. Other commonly grown hoya include H. lanceolata bella (miniature wax plant) and H. australis (common waxflower). Hoya can grow indoors with low light.
Orchids make interesting indoor plants, and some like corsage orchid or oncidium orchid can even provide you with pleasant scents. And while orchids sometimes get a reputation as a fussy and hard to grow plant, they really aren't difficult to grow!
Plumeria is a tropical plant that is delicate in looks and scent. While it can grow outside, it needs to brought in if your area of the state gets frost. Perhaps you may even decide you like it better inside, or better yet just start your plumeria indoors. For blooming indoors, be sure your plumeria receives bright sunlight.
Scented geraniums are not grown for their flowers, but for their aromatic and visually interesting leaves. Scented geraniums can smell like mint, lemon, cinnamon, chocolate, or rose (such as the one pictured, a cultivar named 'Snowflake'). Since they can't tolerate freeze but also don't do well in summer heat and humidity, geraniums are a great choice for growing indoors in Florida.
Sweet bay is a plant that Floridians are lucky enough to be able to grow outdoors; but did you know it can also be grown inside? Also called bay laurel, this small shrub has delicately scented leaves and can be grown in a large container indoors.
(Photo of bay laurel leaves by John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org)