The three unusual smelling flowers you didn't know about

Bring areas of interest to your garden with unexpected scents including coffee, chocolate and tea

chocolate cosmos
(Image credit: Getty)

On a recent episode of BBC's Gardeners' World, viewers were given a glimpse inside the allotment of a north London-based florist called Helena Willcocks. Among her stunning array of cut flowers including dahlias, poppies and cornflowers, she also grew chocolate cosmos.

As the name suggests, these smell much like vanilla and hot chocolate. It turns out there are plenty of other unusual smelling flowers with which you may not be familiar but could add an interesting touch to your flowerbed ideas this summer and beyond. 

Chocolate cosmos

chocolate cosmos

(Image credit: Getty)

As you might expect, Helena's allotment was dedicated to beautiful blooms - no courgettes or broad beans to be seen. The unusual chocolate cosmos flowers are surprisingly easy to find at garden centers like Suttons, or even on your weekly shop.

They have a deep burgundy color when they first come out, and then the petals lighten into a rich red. 'I buy them as a bare root, they often sell them in supermarkets and they're really cheap,' says Helena.

You can only grow them for one year as they aren't hardy, but they make up for it with their attractive flowers and wonderful fragrance. Like all the cosmos family, they will need regular deadheading. 

Helena grows hers as part of her raised garden bed ideas with top soil, compost and plenty of manure.


viburnum flowers

(Image credit: Getty)

This plant is a popular choice, and some varieties have a common scent similar to freshly brewed cup of tea with a hint of vanilla. Viburnum is a lovely low-maintenance shrub that was even voted the Chelsea Flower Show plant of the decade.

Not all viburnum is fragranced - for that fresh tea scent, look out for Korean spice variety or ask a member of staff at your local garden center. It's loved by birds and can cope in most soil types - learn how to grow viburnum with our guide. 


yellow euphorbia flowers in a garden with a bench

(Image credit: Getty)

Thomas Fultz from Coffeeable brought this vibrant yellow plant to our attention. He says the blooming flower smells 'exactly like freshly ground coffee.' Despite the heady aroma, however, its sap is highly toxic. 

The Euphorbia characias subspecies wulfenii 'Jimmy Platt' variety smells like coffee and can grow around one meter high and wide. 'Unsurprisingly, a founder of a company focused on coffee is obsessed with coffee! So when I discovered a flower that emitted the smell of coffee, I was ecstatic,' he tells us.

Our guide to edible flowers is worth bookmarking if you're interested in finding out more about flowers you can add into your latest bakes and salads.

Step out of your comfort zone this month with our guide to more unusual plants for a summer garden. A single pot of unique smelling flowers in any garden or balcony is a brilliant added bonus, sure to bring that little something different.

Millie Hurst
News Writer

Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.