As things die down outside, your home can be brought alive through the striking blooms and wonderful aroma of indoor flowers
FROM a blast of freshly cut grass to the delicate fragrance of jasmine in the evening, scents can really lift our spirits. But just because there aren’t many flowers in your garden at this time of year, it doesn’t mean you have to go without their delicious perfume inside your home.
A huge variety of attractive houseplants will give off floral aromas to die for throughout the autumn and winter months.
One of the most delightful indoor bulbs for fragrance is hyacinth. Once in bloom, impressive spikes festooned with signature star-shaped flowers will fill your house with a sweet and heady lavender-like scent you will love.
They are also available in a variety of incredible colours, from the rain mac yellow of ‘Yellow Queen’ to the deep violet of the ‘Miss Saigon’ variety, so they will brighten your home in more ways than one. But if you are one for more subtle scents, then amaryllis – hippeastrum– might be the best choice for you. The celebratory trumpet-shaped flowers, which top elegant tall stems, also give off a delicate scent if you pick the fragrant varieties.
Choose ‘Apple Blossom’ for pink-tinted white flowers accompanied by a mellow aroma. Or with ‘Jewel’ you will get mesmerising semi-double cream flowers with a mild scent. Hyacinths and amaryllis are both bulbs that are planted indoors at this time of year and, if treated correctly, can flower in time for Christmas.
You will need to buy hyacinth bulbs labelled “prepared” – these have been chilled so that when you plant them in the warm, they think spring has come early and burst into bloom.
Narcissus papyraceus – paperwhite daffodils – are also beautifully aromatic and can be planted now to flower in December.
For a step-by-step guide, take a look at my blog, Forcing Bulbs for Christmas, which you can find over at daviddomoney.com.
Or you could buy them ready grown from florists, garden centres and even supermarkets. Two fantastic climbing plants for some heavenly indoor fragrance are Stephanotis floribunda, known as Madagascar jasmine, and Jasminum polyanthum – many-flowered jasmine.
Stephanotis’s five-pointed white flowers will be on display now and bloom well into autumn, filling your house with a pleasant perfume. The strongly scented Jasminum polyanthum can also be bought now and will begin to produce a profusion
of pretty, delicate pink buds early in the new year.
The heady scent of jasmine becomes particularly pronounced at night, so it’s a great choice for placing in the room where you relax or entertain in the evenings.
Both plants are climbers and can be shaped into hoops, twined around a moss pole or trained up a decorative metal obelisk to great effect.
They can also both be placed outside during milder weather for extra decoration.
But if, like me, you find the aesthetics of the rose hard to beat, then rose look-alike scented flowers may be the best of both worlds as we head into the depths of winter. For spectacular miniature rose-like flowers in a technicolour dream coat of colours, choose primula varieties from the Primlet Series. Available to buy now, these primroses begin flowering in February and will fill your home with a delightful scent in the deepest days of winter.
They love a sunny spot and are fairly hardy so a bright windowsill is ideal for these beauties.
Queen of the plants for indoor fragrance, however, has to be Gardenia jasminoides – cape jasmine.
Its exquisite, bride-white flowers contrast with its stunning, glossy dark green foliage. It is so highly scented that just one of these plants will fragrance several rooms at
once. The ovate foliage and rosette flowers make gardenias look like miniature rose bushes flowering out of season.
You have to work for it, though, as gardenias are very particular. They prefer an even temperature, so – unlike primulas – dislike draughty spots near doorways.
And they are no fan of windowsills, which can get cold overnight. However, these beauties also need at least half a day of direct light in winter, so you have to strike the right balance with your positioning. Gardenias are also not keen on the high mineral content of tap water so need to be watered either with rain water or with cooled boiled water to stay at their best. It might sound a lot to take on but, if you are careful, gardenias will reward you tenfold.
Opt for a mixture of all these plant varieties and you will have a home full of fantastically perfumed blooms from now through to the new year.
And fragrant cut flowers such as Lilium ‘Stargazer’ and freesia on your table will give things a fabulous final flourish and your nose a real treat.
Hyacinths are fragrant and come in a variety of cheery colours
All amaryllis are bright and cheerful, but there are also scented varieties. And the stephanotis’ five-pointed white flowers will fill your house with a pleasant perfume
The beautiful Hippeastrum Apple Blossom