Purple flowers are not only beautiful to admire with your eyes, many are a wonder to enjoy with your nose, too! Thanks to their sweet and fruity scents, purple flowers can provide a true feast for the senses whether you grow them in a garden or enjoy them in an arrangement of cut flowers. Here we’ll take you through 20 of the most fragrant purple flowers.
What Makes Flowers Fragrant?
The Science Behind Flower Fragrance
Every type of flower – even different cultivars of the same species – has a completely unique fragrance. The scent of flowers comes from thousands of various chemical compounds contained in a flower’s essential oils.
Most abundant in a flower’s petals, the fragrant oils evaporate in warm weather when a flower blossom opens, and the olfactory glands in our noses smell them.
Flowers evolved their distinctive fragrances as a way to attract pollinators to ensure the pollination of fertile flowers. Certain scents attract certain insects. For example, sweet fragrances attract butterflies, flies, and bees, while fruity, spicy, or musty fragrances attract beetles.
Flowers that need to be pollinated by moths or tend to emit a stronger fragrance at night, while those hoping to attract daytime insects smell stronger during the day.
Why Are Some Flowers More Fragrant Than Others?
Flowers mostly vary in fragrance as a result of genetics. The strength of a flower’s scent also varies throughout its reproductive cycle, being at its most fragrant when the plant is ready to be fertilized.
Additionally, flowers attracting night pollinators emit more fragrance at night, and those attracting daytime pollinators smell sweeter during the day.
Are Purple Flowers More Fragrant Than Other Types of Flowers?
Although several purple flowers, like lilacs and lavender types, are famous for their robust and recognizable fragrances, not all purple flowers smell more strongly than flowers of other colors.
Certain colors and fragrant chemicals in flowers, however, are correlated to help the right pollinators locate their food sources – even on windy days when fragrance might dissipate in the air.
Can You Amplify the Scent of Your Own Flowers?
When it comes to the fragrance of flowers, the strength of a flower’s scent is mostly up to genetics. However, water does seem to play an important role in the production of the floral essential oils we can smell. So, to encourage a sweet smell in the flowers you grow, make sure they have plenty of moisture.
20 of the Most Fragrant Purple Flowers
Here you’ll 20 heady and aromatic types of purple flowers which are revered for their fragrance during the spring and summer months each year.
Native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the primrose gets its common name from the Latin “prima” and “rosa” which translate to first rose. This name references the fact that primroses are among the first flowers to bloom in spring. They feature clusters of sweet flowers atop a central rosette of greenery. While primroses bloom in just about every color of the rainbow, their purple and amethyst-hued varieties are especially striking.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Primrose (Primula vulgaris)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet, orange, and citrusy|
|Peak Season:||Early to late spring|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Japanese primrose and Belarina double vulgaris primrose varieties|
Between 500 and 600 species of violets belong to the genus, Viola. Most violets have pretty heart-shaped leaves and flowers that resemble small faces with bilateral symmetry. Their petals bloom in just about every color and combination of colors you can imagine, but they’re most loved for their purple-colored flowers, from which the name for the color violet comes. Most violets grow well in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. Some varieties vary slightly, though. So, it’s best to check your seeds before you plant.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Violet (Viola)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet and powdery soft|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Sweet violet (Viola adorata) and parma violet (Viola alba)|
The Lavandula genus contains 47 species of lavender, and they’re all part of the mint family. Popular in aromatherapy, the scent of lavender has been shown to have a calming effect on both people and animals. Lavender essential oil is a great choice to diffuse before bedtime, to help calm a stressed pet, or to calm yourself on a busy day. Lavender essential oil has long been a popular ingredient in soaps. In fact, its name is thought to come from the Latin word “lavare” which means to wash. Lavender is also easy to propagate if you’re ever looking to expand your collection or gift to friends.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Lavender (Lavandula)|
|Fragrance:||Lightly floral, herbal, and fresh|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) and common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)|
Hyacinths grow natively from Northern Bulgaria to Northern Israel, making them winter hardy in zones 4 through 8. Early spring bloomers, the first wafts of their sweet fragrance mark the beginning of spring for many. Not only do they smell delicious, but hyacinths also have very attractive racemes of star-shaped blossoms. They not only bloom in their signature purple color but also in white and light pink.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)|
|Fragrance:||Powerful floral and water notes atop sweet, spicy undertones|
|Peak Season:||Early Spring|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Dutch hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)|
With its brightly colored, frilled petals, dianthus flowers symbolize boldness in the language of flowers. Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowers, some of which go by the common names pink, carnation, and sweet william. Most flowers of the genus are native to Asia and Europe with a few species originating in the arctic region of North America, Northern Africa, and Southern Africa.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Dianthus (Dianthus)|
|Fragrance:||Strong, spicy, and clove-like|
|Peak Season:||Early spring and summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Old-fashioned pinks, dianthus Agatha (Dianthus allwoodii), and carnations|
6) Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Commonly known by fun names like “yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” “morning, noon, and night,” and “kiss me quick,” Brunfelsia pauciflora is a species of flowering shrub plant in the nightshade family. Native to Brazil, the shrub features leathery leaves and delicate flowers that blossom purple to lavender to white. All parts of the yesterday, today, and tomorrow plants, like other plants from the nightshade family, are toxic – especially the fruits and flowers.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet and floral|
|Peak Season:||Spring and summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Brunfelsia pauciflora ‘Magnifica’|
Freesia is a genus of flowering plants that belong to the Iris plant family. Freesia flowers are native to Southeastern Africa and are famous for their distinctly fruity fragrance that’s a popular ingredient in lotions, perfumes, and soaps. The most fragrant varieties feature trumpet-shaped flowers in shades that range from mauve to pink to yellow, orange, and white. The flowers bloom in a row along one side of an upright stalk amidst a clump of sparse and spindly leaves.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Freesia (Freesia)|
|Fragrance:||Powerfully sweet, fruity, and strawberry-like|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Any single-flowered freesia in addition to antique freesia alba, Matterhorn, and Tecolote white|
8) Night-Scented Stock
Matthiola longipetala is commonly called night-scented stock or evening stock because its flowers open up at night to attract nighttime pollinators like moths with their sweet, fragrant scent. The plant’s petite flowers feature four long, skinny petals with a color gradient that ranges from white at the center to a deep purple at the tip. Night-scented stock has a highly branched appearance. Although it often appears wilted during the heat of the day, it will straighten up and open up as the Sun begins to set.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Night-Scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet and spicy with notes of cinnamon and clove|
|Peak Season:||Spring to fall|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Matthiola longipetala|
The Syringa genus contains 12 species of small flowering trees that are commonly called lilacs. They have woody stems, simple heart-shaped or lanceolate leaves, and grape-bunch-shaped panicles of tiny tubular flowers. Lilacs most commonly bloom in shades of light, bluish-purple, but some come in white, pink, and even a deep burgundy. Some varieties of lilacs are more fragrant than others. For example, large lilac trees in a gentle breeze can fill an entire neighborhood with their pleasantly sweet aroma.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Lilac (Syringa)|
|Fragrance:||Richly floral with hints of vanilla, rose, and sometimes cinnamon or clove|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Miss Kim (Syringa pubescens), President Lincoln (Syringa vulgaris), Pekin tree lilac, and Japanese tree lilac|
10) Butterfly Bush
The butterfly bush is native to Central China and Japan and can be grown in hardiness zones 5 through 9. These deciduous bushes have attractive foliage that keeps the plant interesting year-round, but they’re mostly cultivated for their prized, conical flower panicles that can grow to be about 8-inches long and appear to simply burst from the bushes. As the plant’s given name suggests, butterfly bushes will attract butterflies and other useful pollinators to your garden.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet and honey-like|
|Peak Season:||Spring and summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Safe bush (Buddleja salviifolia) and winter flowering lilac (Buddleja asiatica)|
The Phlox genus contains 67 species of both annual and perennial plants that, with the exception of one species from Siberia, are all native to North America. They grow naturally in a variety of habitats including woodlands, prairies, and alpine tundra. The name phlox comes from the Greek word of the same spelling that means flame and is thought to refer to the plant’s brightly colored clusters of flowers.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Phlox (Phlox)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet with hints of vanilla and clove|
|Peak Season:||Spring, summer, or fall depending on the species|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Phlox paniculata: ‘Cinderella,’ ‘Fairy’s Petticoat,’ and ‘Ending blue’|
Ten species of woody, vining, flowering plants comprise the genus, Wisteria. Wisteria plants can grow like trees with their vines twining and spiraling around each other to form a sort of trunk in more mature plants. They produce large, beautiful, voluminous, pendulous cones of flowers that can create a magical canopy of color with flowers in purple, pink, blue, and white. Despite their beauty, all parts of wisteria plants are toxic and should not be ingested.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Wisteria (Wisteria)|
|Fragrance:||Musky and/or sweet|
|Peak Season:||Spring and summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria brachybotrys ‘Shiro Kapitan,’ and Wisteria brachybotrys ‘Murasaki Kapitan’|
13) Sweet Pea
Native to Southern Italy, Sicily, and the islands of the Aegean Sea, the Lathyrus odoratus is a flowering plant in the legume family that has a notably, pleasant and sweet scent – hence the name, sweet pea! In addition to its popular fragrance, sweet pea blossoms that grace your garden will also fill it with beautifully delicate blossoms that vary from shades of white, pink, and fuchsia in cultivars, but primarily blossom in purple in the wild.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet, spicy, citrusy, and floral|
|Peak Season:||Spring and summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Grandiflora sweet peas and Lathyrus odoratus: ‘Matucana,’ ‘Linda Carole,’ and ‘Our Harry’|
Just under 100 species of deciduous shrubs make up the Daphne genus. In late winter and early spring, clusters of potently scented daphne blossoms and berries are a welcome sight. Daphne bushes are hardy down to 10°F in zones 7 through 9. Although they’re toxic, daphnes do have some practical uses beyond smelling nice; two species are used in Japan in the production of paper.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Daphne (Daphne)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet, soapy, and subtly spicy|
|Peak Season:||Late winter and early spring|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)|
The genus Heliotropium contains about 325 flowering plants commonly called heliotropes for their perceived nature of turning their flowers toward the Sun. The genus is nearly cosmopolitan, meaning its species can be found growing naturally in almost every part of the world. This plant’s purple flower clusters will attract butterflies to your garden, but be careful if you have pets, as heliotropes are toxic if ingested.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Heliotrope (Heliotropium)|
|Fragrance:||Delicate and floral with notes of baby powder, vanilla, and marzipan|
|Peak Season:||Summer until frost|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Azure skies (Heliotropium amplexicaule) and Nagano (Heliotropium arborescens)|
16) Scented Geranium
Pelargonium is a genus containing almost 300 species of flowering succulents, shrubs, and perennial plants that are commonly called storksbills, pelargoniums, and scented geraniums. However, they should not be confused with plants belonging to a different genus called geraniums or cranesbills. Pelargoniums are generally divided into six groups, one of which is defined by its members’ scented leaves.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Scented Geranium (Pelargonium)|
|Fragrance:||Varies from species to species. Fragrant notes can include sweet, spicy, rose, grapefruit, ginger, hazelnut, peach, lime, pineapple, berries, myrrh, coconut, apple, peppermint, lemon, nutmeg, eucalyptus, almond, cinnamon, camphor, and celery.|
|Peak Season:||Spring and summer – can bloom year-round in temperatures above 45F to 50F.|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Several including Pelargonium ‘Red Raspberry,’ Pelargonium ‘Lavender Lindy,’ Pelargonium quercifolium, and Pelargonium odoratissimum|
Datura metal is a species of perennial flowering shrub that features trumpet-shaped blossoms in white, yellow, purple, or a combination of these colors. The flower shape lends the plant its common names, devil’s trumpet and angel’s trumpet. It is also referred to as Indian thornapple and Hindu datura. The devil’s trumpet’s blossoms open up at night. This is when the flowers are at their most fragrant to attract their special pollinator, the sphinx moth.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Devil’s Trumpet (Datura metel)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet like honeysuckle|
|Peak Season:||Early summer through fall|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Datura ‘Evening Fragrance’|
18) Bearded Iris
Iris germanica is a species of flowering plant in the Iris plant family. The species, its hybrids, and cultivars are commonly called bearded irises or German bearded irises. Although it’s listed as its own species, the bearded iris is actually a natural hybrid of the Iris variegata and the Iris pallida. They feature bright-purple petals that bloom atop tall, vibrant-green stems.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)|
|Fragrance:||Deep, fruity, and spicy|
|Peak Season:||Late spring|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Iris germanica ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’ Iris germanica ‘Clarence,’ Iris germanica ‘Hemstitched,’ and Iris germanica ‘Cafe Bleu’|
Alyssum is a genus of 100 to 200 flowering plants that produce abundant clusters of petite flowers in white, yellow, pink, and many shades of purple. They emit a sweet fragrance that attracts butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. Used as ground cover, alyssum creates a carpet of color and sweetness in your garden.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Alyssum (Alyssum)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet with notes of honey and melon|
|Peak Season:||Summer and fall|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima ‘Snow Princess’)|
The genus, Rhododendron contains more than a thousand species of woody, flowering shrubs. The name comes from ancient Greek words which mean rose tree, and it harkens to the rose-like appearance of the plants’ flowers. They blossom in a variety of shades that range from deep purples to fiery reddish pinks and have dozens of papery folds of petals.
|Common and Botanical Name:||Rhododendron (Rhododendron)|
|Fragrance:||Sweet and spicy with notes of clove|
|Peak Season:||Late spring to early summer|
|Most Fragrant Varieties:||Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), Rhododendron ‘April Rose,’ and Roseshell Azalea (Rhododendron prynophyllum)|
Attract Pollinators for a More Vibrant Garden
Whether you choose a purple color scheme for your garden or settle on a more colorful look, selecting especially fragrant flowers will help attract pollinators like butterflies and bees to your garden. This results in happier plants that spread and contributes to an overall healthier ecosystem.
Fragrant Purple Flower FAQs:
What do purple flowers symbolize?
Purple flower symbolism covers a multitude of meanings across cultures, species, and time periods. Whilst the color traditionally symbolizes sorrow in Thailand, it has taken on the meaning of royalty and elegance in other cultures around the world. Purple flowers are commonly gifted in recognition of successes, admiration and romance.
What do purple flowers mean spiritually?
Aside from the purple lotus in Buddhism, purple flowers hold many other meanings in spiritual traditions worldwide. In Christianity, there are several purple flowers mentioned in the Bible. Some include oriental hyacinths and oriental poppies. Violets are prominent in Christianity as well. The color commonly represents repentance from sin, and medieval monks referred to violets as flowers of Trinity.
What is the most fragrant purple flower?
Some of the most fragrant purple flower varieties include primrose, hyacinth, lavender, violets, heliotrope, and scented geraniums.
What determines the fragrance of a purple flower?
The scent of flowers comes from thousands of various chemical compounds contained in a flower’s essential oils. Most abundant in a flower’s petals, the fragrant oils evaporate in warm weather when a flower blossom opens, and the olfactory glands in our noses smell them.
How do you make purple flowers more fragrant?
Whilst the scent of a particular flower is largely determined by genetics, ensuring your plant has sufficient water is thought to play an important role in the production of essential oils that produce floral aromas.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.