Flowering plants exude scent to help attract the pollinators necessary for species survival. The scent of lemon or citrus is one of the most appealing in the floral world. There are a number species and plant varieties with white, lemon-scented flowers, including many magnolias (Magnolia spp.), selected roses (Rosa spp.), lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) and Amazon lily (Eucharis amazonica).
Among white roses, the modern hybrid tea "John Paul II" (Rosa "John Paul II"), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6b through 9b, has a strong lemon or citrus scent, with clear white double flowers. The shrubs are 4 to 5 feet tall, with glossy green leaves. Keith Zary, breeder of "John Paul II," also bred "Pure Perfume" (Rosa "Pure Perfume"), hardy in USDA zones 6b through 9b. It features a strong lemon scent and bears clusters of many-petaled white flowers. The shrub rose grows to about 5 feet tall.
The 2- to 3-inch-wide flowers of Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) have a sweet lemon fragrance and appear in late spring or early summer. The trees are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and grow to a height of about 20 feet in the northern part of the hardiness range and up to 60 feet in the southern portion. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), hardy in USDA zones 6 or 7 through 9 or 10, features very large (8- to 12-inch-wide) lemon-scented flowers. Its bruised stems also smell of lemon.
The Amazon lily (Eucharis amazonica), hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11 and grown as a potted houseplant outside its hardiness range, features white, daffodil-like blooms and a citrus scent. The plants are members of the amaryllis family and grow 18 to 24 inches tall. To induce the plant to produce their lemon-scented blooms more than once a year, allow the plant to become pot-bound and reduce watering dramatically after blooms have faded. When the soil has been dry for about one month, new growth should appear. Begin watering again to stimulate the flowering process.
Both flowers and foliage of lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) feature a strong lemon scent. Hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, lemon verbena can be grown as an annual outside its hardiness range, or overwintered indoors. The flowers, which appear in summer or early fall, are usually white, but sometimes have a pale purple cast. The fragrance of the leaves is strongest when the plant is blooming. Lemon verbena flowers and leaves can be harvested and used in cooking, or dried and included in sachets or potpourri.
- Help Me Find Roses: Description -- "Pure Perfume"
- Help Me Find Roses: Description -- "John Paul II"
- Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Fifth Edition; Michael A. Dirr
- Casey Trees: Southern Magnolia
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Eucharis Amazonica
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Aloysia Triphylla
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images