Try these fragrant flowers for your (indoor) winter garden
Enjoy the beauty—and sweet smells—of these houseplants that blossom during our coldest months.
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Being cooped up for the winter makes us crave not only the warmth but the smell of summer. If you can’t afford a tropical vacation, visit one of our local greenhouses to find many houseplants known for their deliciously fragrant flowers or scented foliage.
Photo by John W. Hession
Catherine Preston holds a hoya blossom in one of the greenhouses at House By the Side of the Road in Wilton. Among other plants there is a white gardenia in front of her on the left and a Calamondon orange on the right. The little pink flowers on the table behind her are cyclamen.
The jasmine family
The jasmine family is a large one, having more than two hundred species, including evergreen shrubs and deciduous vines that are native to temperate and tropical areas in China, Thailand, Africa and the Mediterranean.
For a reliable winter bloomer, look for a sambac jasmine, such as ‘Maid of Orleans’, ‘Belle of India’ or ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’. They have a sweet fragrance, boast white double blossoms and are everbloomers. Quenby Jaus of Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford says, “The sambacs are highly fragrant, twining plants. They flower best on your sunniest windowsill.” Sambacs love humidity so Jaus suggests frequent misting and positioning their pots on a tray of moist pebbles.
For a touch of color, try yellow jasmine (J. humile ‘Revolutum’), which is an everbloomer with small, bright yellow blossoms. Extremely fragrant, it is sometimes called Italian jasmine, even though it is really from Asia. The plants can take night temperatures below
45 degrees so they are perfect for your coldest windowsill.
True to its common name, winter jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) actually needs cold nights to set buds. Catherine Preston of the House By the Side of the Road in Wilton says, “Like all the jasmines they need full sun, water when dry and a dip in temperature for a few weeks.” The vines are hardy to 20 degrees, and night temperatures as low as 35 degrees won’t prevent them from blooming. Although a vine by nature, winter jasmine is happy growing in a hanging basket, or you can twine its dark green, leathery leaves up a trellis. The pretty pink buds turn white as they open into five-petalled, star-like flowers; their scent is strongest in the evening. To encourage new growth, prune the stems back hard after the blossoms die.