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Fragrant Houseplants

Martha Stewart Living Television

An easy-care houseplant whose sweet scent fills the room makes a wonderful housewarming or birthday gift. Dennis Schrader, of Landcraft Environments in Mattituck, New York, discussed some of his favorite flowering varieties. All are tender plants that bloom indoors in winter and can summer outside (meaning that in warmer climates, they can grow outside year-round, but for cooler regions, they make great houseplants during the cold weather). In addition, each of their scents has been re-created by the perfume industry.

Keep in mind that when these plants are in bloom, their petals can easily bruise or fall off. For this reason, when moving the plant, it's best to insert the entire pot into a decorative cachepot. Dennis recommends filling the bottom with a layer of gravel for drainage, inserting the potted plant, and using a cork surface (available at garden centers) to protect your furniture from any dampness.

Murraya exotica 'Orange Jasmine'
Part of a genus of more than 200 species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and climbers, this jasmine variety blooms year-round and requires acidic soil.

Jasmine polyanthum
This winter-blooming, vining jasmine can be trained on a topiary frame and is ideal for a hanging basket. Known for its vigorous growth, easy care, and sweet fragrance, it can be placed in a cool window during fall and winter for optimum growth and bud set. It requires a minimum temperature 35 degrees and a winter-night temperature below 60 degrees to bloom. Water sparingly in winter, and apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer monthly.

Jasmine nitidum
Also known as star or royal jasmine, this highly fragrant, large, bushy plant bears small, star-shaped flowers year-round and glossy green leaves. Because it's slower growing than other jasmines and requires full sun, it is ideal for a windowsill and will grow to 1 to 3 feet in a container with a minimum temperature of 50 degrees.

Citrus
Many citrus plants, such as Meyer lemons, make wonderful houseplants whose fragrant blooms are eventually replaced by fruit.

Pogostemon patchouli
Known for its fragrant oil, this plant is native to the East and West Indies and Paraguay. Its small, whitish blooms are tinged with purple, it grows 2 to 3 feet tall, and it does well in a sunny window.

Gardenia
A genus of about 200 tropical species, gardenias are known for their distinctive scent and continuous blooms. They generally do well outdoors in summer, their soil should be evenly moist, and they require bright, filtered light. Dennis recommends using an acidic potting mix.

Cyclamen persicum
Part of a genus of about 19 species of tuberous perennials, this plant is native to the Mediterranean, Iran, and Somalia. It bears heart-shaped leaves and nodding flowers whose fragrance is sweet, but not overpowering. Unlike many fragrant plants, cyclamen prefers cooler temperatures.

Primrose
This plant has colorful, fragrant blooms, which last about six weeks.

Special Thanks
Dennis Schrader
Landcraft Environments
Mattituck, NY
Phone: 516-298-3510

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