Touch, Taste, Smell…These Sensory Plants Will Transform Your Garden

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

May 27, 2021

Sensory plants for the garden (1)

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When your garden is a treat for the senses, it will become an important feature for your home. Incorporating some of the sensory plants in the garden will ensure you enjoy spending time outside and making the most of nature. Children, in particular, will love getting hands on in the garden with the freedom to touch, smell, see and even taste what’s growing around them!

Creating a Sensory Garden

sensory plants

Choosing sensory plants for your garden might be something you are doing without even thinking about it because you like the smell, the colour, or the texture. You can maximise this to create a space that the whole family will enjoy and relax in.

There is no need to have a large garden or to spend a fortune to enjoy a sensory experience. Window boxes, pots and planters in a small garden, patio or on a balcony will all work just as well if you choose some of the sensory plants listed below. Grow from seed or buy ready to plant, and you are all set to start creating your very own sensory garden.

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Sensory Plants for Your Garden

To Touch

sensory plants to touch

Getting tactile in the garden is easy to achieve without damaging your favourite flowers. Ornamental grasses, like pampas, are so inviting to touch. In addition, soft and spongey moss, feathery fronds, silky petals, and smooth succulents will deliver the textural element that works perfectly in a sensory garden.

While the soft edges of succulents provide no risk of injury, steer clear of spiky options like cacti and thorny plants like roses.

Other sensory plants that are good to touch include:

  • Ornamental grasses
  • Blue fescue
  • Moss
  • Lambs’ ears
  • Geranium
  • Dittany
  • Pampas grass
  • Fuchsia
  • Snapdragons
  • Fennel
  • Aloe

To Taste

Sensory plants to taste

Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs provide the perfect opportunity to taste your way around the garden. Berries, tomatoes, peas and mint are all easy to grow and delicious to eat. You could also try edible flowers, such as marigold, pansies and nasturtium, that can be picked and munched!

Did you know there are different types of mint with a range of flavours? Peppermint, spearmint, Moroccan mint, pineapple mint…and even chocolate mint!

Other sensory plants that are delicious to eat include:

  • Beans
  • Peppers
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Beetroot
  • Elderflower
  • Wild garlic
  • Leafy greens (lettuce, rocket, spinach, kale, chard)
  • Fruit trees

To Smell

Sensory plants to smell

The most common sense at play in the garden is scent, thanks to the sweet-smelling delight found in many flowers. Classic scents that we’re all familiar with include rose, lily and lavender, but there are many more to choose from – sweet pea, honeysuckle, jasmine, hyacinth and a variety of herbs.

Sensory plants to smell include:

  • Lilac
  • Magnolia
  • Gardenia
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Stock
  • Dianthus
  • Lemon verbena
  • Herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, mint)


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To Hear

The garden is most likely a haven for your other senses, but it is also possible to also ‘hear’. The rustling of leaves and ornamental grasses is a very soothing sound, while bamboo creates a whistling noise.

Create a buzz (get it…?) in your garden by sowing wildflowers and plants like lilac, lavender, foxgloves, honeysuckle, snapdragon, heather, aster and buddleja for pollinators like bees and butterflies. You can learn how to create a butterfly garden which can make nature a really fun place to be for kids!

To See

Sensory plants to see

It’s safe to say that we don’t usually put ugly flowers and plants in the garden, but there are some real showstoppers you can easily add that will be a treat for the eyes. From spikes to bell shapes or even a large ball-shaped flower like the allium or hydrangea, there is plenty to choose from.

One of the most iconic flowers is the sunflower, and watching that giant yellow face angle to the sun is a spectacle to enjoy. Similarly, the ‘face’ of a pansy is very pretty (and fans of Alice in Wonderland will enjoy imagining the talking flowers that come to life!). Meanwhile the intricacy of roses, dahlias, and even dandelions will keep you looking.

Other sensory plants that are fun to look at include:

  • Bluebell
  • Daffodil
  • Snowdrop
  • Poppy
  • Zinnia
  • Cherry blossom
  • Daisy
  • Buttercup
  • Allium
  • Lupin
  • Bromeliad
  • Hollyhocks
  • Hosta
  • Hydrangea
  • Hanging / climbing
  • Succulent plants
  • unusual

Variety and Texture

Sensory plants

Colourful and scented flowers are always popular in the garden, and a must-have for many. However, their lifespan can often be short-lived. Ensuring that your sensory garden tempts you year-round means including plenty of greenery, texture and variety. Bushes, shrubs and trees fill that space well, particularly those with some interesting features. Variegated leaves, differing textures, and the uniqueness of succulents are a great way to start.

You can also consider height and placement of your sensory plants – mix up your garden to draw the eye to different areas. Hanging baskets or trailing plants provide variety, while climbing plants like sweet pea, clematis and jasmine are another eye-catching option.

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Published On: May 27th, 2021 / Categories: Lifestyle / Last Updated: May 31st, 2023 / Tags: , , , /

About the Author: Emily Manning

Emily Manning
Emily is the coffee-loving Editor of MyKidsTime. Mum of one daughter and two naughty Tibetan Terriers, she is particularly partial to Curly Wurlys and unable to resist pretty stationery and new cookbooks. As an avid foodie and domestic goddess-wannabe, she is most likely to be found in the kitchen.

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