Choosing Flowers by Fragrance

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Scented flowers

The first thing many of us do when we pick up a bouquet is lift it to our nose and take a deep breath. One of the many joys of flowers is their beautiful fragrance – something the perfume industry tries to artificially recreate.

For many flowers, the genes governing scent are closely linked to the genes controlling vase life. This means flowers that last longer when cut, tend to have less fragrance. That’s just the way the genes work. You can have one or the other – smell, or long life.

White flowers tend to have a scent, generally; and a white version of a flower will usually smell stronger than the same flower in another colour.

Scientists have given a great deal of time and effort to solving this puzzle, taking flower varieties with good vase life and breeding them with highly fragrant varieties until the offspring developed both characteristics. Now, after years of intensive breeding work, flowers with long vase life can also smell very sweet!

Flowers with fragrance

Here’s a small selection of flowers which have a lovely fragrance

  • Lily – oriental and longiflorum types have intense perfumes, and will last a long time in the home
  • Hyacinth, narcissus (jonquil) – strong sweet spring scents
  • Stephanotis, jasmine, gardenia – popular for wedding bouquets because of their rich seductive fragrance
  • Freesia – a classic elegant scent
  • Waxflower, leptospermum – crush the foliage and you’ll get a zingy lemon smell
  • Lavender, rosemary, oregano, mint – more  herbs are being used in bouquet work; pretty purple flowers and warm, spicy or fresh fragrance

Giving flowers as gifts

Choosing the right flowers – other great reasons to pick


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