Grow an Aromatherapy Garden

There are so many ways to enjoy your garden, including making it appealing to all five senses. But did you know that plants such as lemon verbena, lavender and star anise smell wonderful while also being therapeutic? Many popular varieties have healing properties, so they do double-duty in your outdoor space. Here’s how to design an aromatherapy garden that you can draw from to make potpourri, bath products and much more.

Create a scent-sational experience

Garden historians have said that the scent of basil can stimulate the heart and lessen depression, lemon verbena has antioxidant properties, and that the aroma of wild thyme revitalizes the body’s energy. Did you know that the human nose can recognize 10,000 different scents? The oils contained in the glands of flowers, seeds, bark, leaves and branches make up more than 3,000 kinds of aromas. So design your garden with the sense of smell in mind: plant fragrant varieties and you’ll have new scents to enjoy with each season.

Choose the right varieties for your site

You can plant an aromatherapy garden as a 10-x-20 rectangular patch or as a 10-x-10 or 20-x-20 circle with paths for easy access and plenty of air flow between herbs. Or, you can put aromatic herbs in containers near your house or patio. Good herbs to plant include basil, chamomile, clary sage, coriander, fennel, hyssop, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, lemon balm, rosemary, sage and thyme. Plant taller varieties in the center, such as fennel and clary sage, with mid-sized plants like lemongrass and lavender in the next outer ring, and smaller herbs including thyme and marjoram on the outside.

Give mint its space

With more than 600 species of mint to choose from, this herb is great for making spearmint or peppermint essential oil used in soaps. Just be sure to plant mint far away from other varieties, as it tends to spread wildly. Also, enclosing your mint will allow its oils to linger in the air.

Consider every nook and cranny

When designing footpaths, plant some low-growing herbs between flagstone or brick pavers, so that you and your garden visitors can enjoy the scents that waft up when you step on them. Try caraway thyme, Roman chamomile or pennyroyal.

Organize your plantings by fragrance

If you have too many strong, sweet smells – such as jasmine and gardenia – the aroma can be intense, so separate varieties with similar scents. Containers brimming with myrtle or eucalyptus allow you to move fragrant plants around in your garden so you can experiment when the wind blows! Don’t forget, you can also bring those pots inside during the winter.

A bountiful bath and a pot of pot-pourri

Some plants such as lavender or rose geranium produce blossoms you can harvest and toss into your bathwater for a sensory experience that’ll sooth both body and mind. Rosemary leaves and lemongrass make a lovely sachet that you can float in the bathwater. Or, gather herbs such as cinnamon and star anise to simmer slowly on the stove in a pot of water to warm up winter spirits. For a relaxing night’s sleep, make a small bundle of lavender, chamomile and hops, which release calming and fragrant oils that will lull you into slumber.

What have you planted in your aromatherapy garden? Share your photos with us!


Bottle with purple flowers: by Mareefe from Pexels

Mint: by Char from Pexels

Lavender in garden: Michel_Rathwell Flickr via Compfight cc

Eucalyptus: by Madison Inouye from Pexels

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