Many people love to bring color to their landscaping, so why not add another level of pleasure to your desert garden? Adding fragrant plants make your yard even more enjoyable.
While many desert gardens can include a plethora of different flowering plants, including cactus, succulents and other desert adapted species, why not go one step further and create one to delight and intrigue your senses? A desert fragrance garden adds another dimension to your planting design, so dive in and plant one this fall.
Selecting a Location for your Fragrance Garden
The best place for a fragrance garden is one that has a mixture of sun exposures so you can plant the widest variety of species. From full sun, part and filtered shade and full shade; if you are lucky enough to have an area that accommodates all of these you have a great start. If you do not, you can create areas using overhead shade structures such as ramadas or shade cloth on posts for the shady areas, and existing trees for filtered shade.
Research your Climate Zone
Nurseries often sell plants not necessarily hardy for where you live. A sad state of affairs, but true. To make sure you are buying the right plant, it pays to do some homework first. The Department of Agriculture has hardiness zones for the United States, but these zones are not accurate for western states. Sunset created their own set of growing zones, and it is as easy as a visit to their website, Sunset.com, to find what zone is for you.
Sun Loving Shrub
These plants can take full sun, and will fill the air with the surprising smell of grape bubble gum. The fragrant Texas ranger (Leucophyllum pruinosum) has silvery leaves and deep purple flowers after summer rains. This shrub grows to about 6 feet tall and wide, so give it room as Texas rangers hate pruning. This Texas ranger is hardy in Sunset zones 7 to 24.
Shade Loving Shrub
Osmanthus fragrans, or Sweet Olive, is a hardy evergreen shrub reaching about 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide, but very slowly. The leaves provide a nice backdrop for silvery leafed plants, but the most delightful part of this plants are the tiny, creamy flowers that fill the air with the smell of ripe apricots. Sweet Olive is hardy in zones 8, 9,12 to 24 and H1.
Filtered Shade Ground Cover
Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) is a hardy perennial with yellow daisy flowers and chocolate colored centers that smell like warm chocolate. This southwest native will reseed itself where there is available water. It is hardy in zones 10 to 13, and 18 to 21.
Other Species to Try
These are all worthy of your garden, but check to make sure they will survive in your garden before buying.
- Tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
- Saltillo primrose (Oenothera stubbei)
- Sweet acacia (Acacia smallii
- Argentine giant (Trichocereus candicans)