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Fragrant Tropical Plants

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

The biggest misconception about fragrant tropical plants is that they are difficult to grow -- people don't realize that they can be maintained in a pot and can do quite well inside as long as you have a sunny window. Tropical plants are generally grown in warm climates and can be brought outside during the summer.

Canary Island Broom
Genista Canariensis
Fragrant, yellow, pea-shaped flowers cover this old favorite in late winter. The flowers emerge in clusters smothering the silver-blue foliage in a brilliant haze of color, permeating the air with a delicate fragrance. The Canary Island broom needs a period of cool nights below 60 degrees during early winter to bud.

Plumeria
Dwarf Plumeria
Plumeria bring the fragrance of the Hawaiian Islands (they are the traditional flowers used in Hawaiian leis) to your indoor or outdoor potted garden with this dwarf variety. The flowers bloom in clusters with a tubular pinkish-white neck that opens into a soft, rounded-edge petal that emits an intoxicating fragrance. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds. Flowers emerge from the flower stem and the flower heads last for weeks and weeks. Water Plumeria regularly; do not overwater -- let the soil become visually dry. The plant needs full sun and a minimum temperature above 60 degrees.

Sweet Almond Verbena or Incense Bush
Aloysia Virgata
Long, white spires of this intensely fragrant ever bloomer will delight your senses. One of the sweetest flowers you'll come across, this member of the Verbenaceae family, also known as the incense bush, is an upright shrubby plant that takes well to a hard pruning, grows fast, and has reported winter hardiness to Zone 9. With full sun, this fast-growing Argentine native will flower year-round. When grown outside in a container for the summer garden, bees and butterflies will reward you with their presence.

Madagascar Jasmine
Stephanotis Floribunda
A longtime favorite used for wedding bouquets, Madagascar jasmine's waxy clusters of fragrant white flowers are set among its dark shiny leaves. A summer blooming climber that can be used as a cut flower to carry a sweet scent throughout the home, this is a great plant for indoor growing -- it tolerates dry atmospheres and periods of neglectful watering. Often trained on a ring or a hoop, the flowers will emerge on the new growth of spring. Remember, prune only in late summer or early fall, once flowering has ceased.

Gardenia Jasminoides
Fortuniana
The corsage gardenia has medium, glossy green leaves and an abundance of deeply perfumed flowers. A freely blooming cultivar, it flowers almost 10 months out of the year.

Chinese Violet
Telosoma Cordata
Often filling the growing area with its heavy fragrance, this member of the Milkweed family is one of the most exciting fragrant plant introductions in recent years. Clusters of golden yellow blooms form along the vining stems during the summer months. Individual blooms emerge successively over a period of weeks, emitting a rich, heavy fragrance that's reliable day or night. The Chinese violet grows vigorously during the long, warm days of summer with growth slowing and eventually coming to a standstill throughout the winter.

Tabernaemontana Holstii
This rare plant's pure white flower is a long tube that explodes into a 3-inch curled-petal star. Although flowers appear sparingly, they continue to emerge throughout the year and last four or five days. The tabernaemontana holstii does not go dormant in the winter like others in its class.

Winter Jasmine
Jasmine Polyanthum
Winter jasmine flowers are said to bring good luck in the Asian community, and women would wear jasmines in their hair or tucked into a buttonhole for luck. A vine by nature, winter jasmine also makes an excellent hanging basket with some encouragement. Known for its vigorous growth and ease of culture, all that's needed is a sunny, cool window during fall and winter for optimum growth and bud set.

Resources
These plants are available at logees.com. Special thanks to Byron Martin for giving copies of the Logee's catalog to our studio audience.