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Sweet Almond Bush, Incense Bush
Aloysia virgata

Family: Verbenaceae (ver-be-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Aloysia (al-uh-WIZH-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: virgata (vir-GA-tuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Shrubs

Height:

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Spacing:

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Silver/Gray

Other details:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Pelham, Alabama

Casa Grande, Arizona

Encinitas, California

Irvine, California

Lafayette, California

San Anselmo, California

Santa Monica, California

Seal Beach, California

Vista, California

Atlantic Beach, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Deland, Florida

Delray Beach, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2 reports)

Gainesville, Florida (2 reports)

Indialantic, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida (3 reports)

Lake Wales, Florida

Longwood, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Miami, Florida (4 reports)

Miami Beach, Florida

Naples, Florida (2 reports)

Navarre, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Okeechobee, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Osprey, Florida

Palm Beach, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)

Riverview, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sanford, Florida

Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)

Satellite Beach, Florida

Sun City Center, Florida

Tampa, Florida (2 reports)

Umatilla, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Winter Garden, Florida (2 reports)

Winter Springs, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)

Hammond, Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Opelousas, Louisiana

Wiggins, Mississippi

Helena, Montana

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Mooresville, North Carolina

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thackerville, Oklahoma

Ladys Island, South Carolina

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Belton, Texas

College Station, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Friendswood, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Georgetown, Texas

Houston, Texas (5 reports)

Humble, Texas

Lake Jackson, Texas

Manor, Texas

Mansfield, Texas

Mathis, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (3 reports)

Seadrift, Texas

Spring, Texas

Willis, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

25
positives
3
neutrals
2
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On May 15, 2014, gondwanan from Lake Wales, FL wrote:

Although more of a scraggly shrub than a specimen, few plants provide the long bloom season of Aloysia virgata (virtually year-round in Central Florida, 9b) or such delightful, far-ranging fragrance. Of course, "Scraggliness" and "Fragrance" are highly subjective; what is undeniable is that this shrub gets big fast (think Steroidal Buddleja) and, even with hard pruning, is well nigh impossible to keep within bounds (and this is on free-draining, sandy soil with limited nutrients). So why try? The little panicles of pure white flowers are charming at best, not spectacular; but... did I mention the fragrance? We have a four-year-old, twelve foot bush some 100 feet from the house and often, on evening strolls, catch a waft of sweetness on the breeze from afar. Hard to imagine someone NOT ... read more

Positive

On Mar 5, 2014, trackinsand from mid central, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

mine's been in the ground for less than 2 yrs. it was a tiny thing when i got it and i planted it in the driest area of the garden. i watered it every couple of days for the first month, then just let it go. watered on the irrigation system once a week from then on.
it's huge now and as everyone else said, i sure wish i would have put it in an area where i didn't have to prune it. live and learn.
there isn't a whole lot of smell to mine, which is probably a good thing. i cough whenever i'm close to it. come to think of it, i've had a cough ever since it first started blooming.
still a positive plant for me. easy, drought tolerant, no bugs except for bees. i see hummers around it too but i don't know if they are actually using it for a food source.

Neutral

On Nov 28, 2012, cledwards from Edgewater-Paisano, TX wrote:

I absolutely love my bush. However, does anyone know if it is poisonous to animals?

Positive

On Nov 5, 2012, whenpigsfly from Willis, TX wrote:

Only buy this plant if you want to attract DOZENS of butterflies and bees to your yard!

Mine is about 1 year old - it's probably 9-10' tall now, doubled in size since it was planted. It gets full sun all day, and is only watered every 5 days when the lawn sprinkler comes on.

Love it!

Negative

On Jul 13, 2012, mentinsel from BREST
France (Zone 9a) wrote:

Bonjour
Je suis fan de plantes parfums
....et cet aloysia,si prometteur,est introuvable en France !

Positive

On May 9, 2012, bariolio from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've had my sweet almond bush for several years now and keep it potted. I keep mine under my covered patio where it gets morning sun. The big thing I've learned is that it likes to be kept moist! I had the same problem with the dried, curling, browning leaves. I think someone on DG told me about watering. I water it about every other day or when I see the new growth tips start to sag. So, I'm not sure why someone listed it as drought tolerant. During the first winter, I cut it back, put it on the side of the house and ignored it until spring. It came back beautifully. This past winter was very mild. I did the same thing but it actually leafed out and grew slowly all winter until spring! Now it's great, getting it's first flowers. If you do not want it to be tree-sized, cut it back... read more

Neutral

On Apr 15, 2012, blinkie from Mooresville, NC wrote:

We just bought this shrub which was labeled as a perennial and now I see that it is perennial in Zones 8 and up. We live in zone 7B about 30 minutes north of Charlotte, NC. Do we even stand a chance with this sweet smelling shrub?

Positive

On Oct 24, 2011, LipLock from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is among my favorite plants in the garden. The scent is absolutely unbelievable. I planted one near my front door (south side) and another near my back door (north side). The scent can be detected from half a block away. When the weather permits, I open the doors and windows and its scent permeates the house. This summer we had the worst drought and hottest temps ever recorded. It bloomed sporadically throughout the summer but after a little rain two weeks ago it is COVERED in blooms. The limbs are almost touching the ground it is so covered in blooms. It is also covered in honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. I'm sitting across the yard from it as I type this and the smell is intoxicating. My yard will never be without this plant.

Positive

On Jun 28, 2011, element0353 from Brooksville, FL wrote:

Smells great. Easy to grow. But lately , not sure if the excess rainfall, and not much time to dry up, has cause some stress to my plants. I figure very little sunshine, here in Brooksville,Fl. has not help much to get the sweet almond, off to a good start.

Negative

On Feb 9, 2011, keglof from Lake Mary, FL wrote:

I love this shrub! The fragrance is heavenly. It's really a tree...it grows like crazy in Central Florida..reaching 12-15 feet. I cut it back to five feet in May...and it was back to 10 feet by October. It is a Honeybee and Butterfly magnet. The one major drawback is that it seems to have some real issues with allergic reactions. I break out in a light rash when I touch it. No problem. But my husband gets a serious rash and is
begging me to cut it down, but I hate to disappoint the bees and butterflies. And my neighbor came over and sniffed the lovely blooms....and then missed work for two days due to severe allergic rash on face and upper body.

I suggest that before you by, do a "skin test".

Positive

On Jan 9, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had this plant growing in my Central Florida garden for four seasons now. I bought it thinking it was a bush, however it has grown to well over fifteen feet....and that is with trimming it down. It does lose its leaves in freezing temperatures but comes back in spring. I have now trained it as a tree and cut the branches down each year to make it bushier. The blooms are out all summer until the first freeze hits, very fragrant in the early morning and evening hours. Bees and butterflies love this tree, in fact it is constantly buzzing with all kinds of bees. My only regret is if I'd known it was going to grow so big, I would've planted it in another location. It seems pretty drought tolerant, but leaves will curl a bit if goes too long without watering, rebounds quickly once watered... read more

Positive

On Jan 2, 2011, subuch from Lafayette, CA wrote:

This plant is a real workhorse. I am looking at it in bloom on New Year's day when the week has seen 34F on two nights and a gale force windstorm on another. It thrives on complete neglect, requiring neither supplemental water nor food other than the mulching of fallen leaves from surrounding shrubbery. It can easily top 10 feet tall with gently arching canes. The canes are, however, quite brittle and will snap under moderate pressure.

What surprises me is that my particular plant has little scent. I grow only edible and fragrant plants in the garden and am very surprised at the low saturation of its delightful perfume. Even when the air is warm, little scent is exuded.

Positive

On Nov 29, 2010, Flowers4BVM from Pompano Beach, FL wrote:

PLEASE ADVISE - I planted this in the ground in So Florida in early July, in full sun. Had to prune dramatically to prevent double leaders with occluded bark. It does respond well to pruning, is full of blossoms, the bees love it. My concern is that the edges of the leaves become dry and brittle, silver in color. This started when still in the pot (I had to wait a few days before planting) and thought it was stress due to root pruning done at the nursery and then sitting in the pot a few days. It never improved. The dried edges do not seem to affect the leaf, but I'm concerned that this is indication of a problem. Please advise.

It also has ants traveling up the trunk from the day I bought it but cannot determine what they are doing.

I've sprayed with... read more

Positive

On Nov 12, 2010, Scott_Madison from Madison, WI wrote:

I found this plant this past summer while taking advantage of a local greenhouses 50% sale! I smelled it before I saw it... and just had to have it. I grew it outside the rest of the summer in a 12 inch terra cotta pot and enjoyed the fragrance everyday. I grow lots of tropicals and winter then over in my basement each year, so I am going to try to winter this plant as well. I'll see how it comes through. Even if it were to perish... it was the best $10 I ever spent on any plant!!

Positive

On Oct 14, 2010, jenn_in_okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I was drawn to this plant by scent along. I was in a local greenhouse and caught a whiff. Like a bloodhound, I sniffed this delicious plant out. The smell is absolutely intoxicating!
I'm growing this in a container on an apartment patio facing south. It seems to love the sunlight, but I have to give it some shade on really hot days (which we get a lot of in the Oklahoma summer). The bush grows very quickly, but it does become leggy and kind of straggly. I'm going to experiment with pruning this winter and see what happens next spring. This is my first attempt at this plant.
Propagating from cuttings has been very easy. I take my cutting, remove the lower leaves, use a sterilized razor to gently remove the bark and cut a slit into the leaf node, dip in rooting powder, and plan... read more

Positive

On Aug 2, 2010, MTVineman from Helena, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Wow! This is one incredibly fragrant plant! I can see why it is called 'Incense Bush' in some parts of the US and other countries. Mine began blooming just a few weeks ago on my back porch aka jungle. I can smell the plant IN the house as the fragrance wafts through the door to my jungle back porch. Such a heady and interesting smell. I can think of nothing like it that I have smelled before on any other plant I have and I have a TON of exotic plants I grow mainly for fragrance and weirdness. I like plants no one else has. And in Montana, that's pretty easy to accomplish. This shrub, of course will be going inside for the winter and back out for the Spring, Summer and Fall. Someone asked about propagating this plant. I have succeeded in doing so just by taking good cuttings and dipping in ... read more

Positive

On Jul 22, 2010, JMarini1 from North Fort Myers, FL wrote:

I have had this plant for about 2 years and it is growing good and smells great. My question is, has any one had any luck in propagating this plant. I have cuttings in water now but nothing is happening, yet! Does anyone have any helpful hints for me?
richmar

Positive

On Jul 20, 2009, napolemj from Winter Garden, FM (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is an incredible addition to any landscape. It seems to take any kind of weather in stride. My plant has weathered the flooding rains of Tropical Storm Fay, seasonal drought, almost 2 weeks of freezing conditions at night (including 3 nights back to back in the upper 20s), and relentless heat all the while blooming. I don't think I remember a period it hasn't bloomed since I planted it. The flowers smell incredible and are irresistable to honeybees and bumblebees. I haven't seen any butterflies or hummingbirds visit them, but maybe that's because I have a golden dewdrop plant nearby that is more attractive to butterflies. All and all, this is one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in the Florida landscape.

Positive

On Mar 23, 2009, MissSherry from Wiggins, MS wrote:

This is a great plant! Mine grew to about ?7' tall last year, the first year I had it, and it's making new growth now. I planted it by my garden gate, and I love to smell the flowers every time I pass through, which is often. I also love the way it blooms for such a long period, nearly all summer and fall.
I highly recommend sweet almond verbena!

Positive

On Jan 4, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant has to be in my top 5 favorite plants. Fragrance is so delicious! I have not been successful at propagating from cuttings.

Oct 2012: Still a top favorite. When I first planted, I did not research as closely as I should have to learn that this plant gets big, so be warned. When it became evident that is was going to be a vigorous grower, I had to add the extra chore of trimming often. After 3 years of that, I finally decided to make a tall hedge and even then, I will have to prune every 2 years for aesthetic reasons. Knowing what I know today about this plant, I would plant it in a sunny place where it can grow as a small tree rather than have to bother with trimming chores.

Positive

On Jul 13, 2008, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

This smells so incredibly yummy! I saw some growing (a large, healthy looking bush) at a garden and now I have to have it, too. The whole plant was very attractive, and although not very showy, the scent of the flowers really stands out. They smell... just spectacular!

Positive

On Apr 29, 2008, amygirl from Miami, FL wrote:

Aloysia is not that easy to propagate. I find that immediately soaking cuttings (the whole cutting) in Superthrive & water for an hour or so before sticking the cuttings, helps with the rooting process.

Positive

On Mar 15, 2007, Convictina from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

I've had this plant in El Dorado Springs, MO. Halfway up the West border of the state. That's where I first came accross it.
Beautiful and filled my yard with that sweet scent. Easy to split and move as well.

Positive

On Dec 10, 2006, Ariel73 from Riverview, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants! Blooms almost year round and smells amazing. It has not been a water hog for me. Infact I have found it to be drought tolerant. Maybe it just needs time to get established to be drought tolerant. Mine is about 10 ft. tall. It atttacts tons of butterflys and bees. I have also found that mine will bloom alot more if I prune it, it blooms on new growth.

Neutral

On Dec 9, 2006, margaran from (Maggie) Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Smells like Sweet almond oil to me.Delicate scent, Doesn't waft far but quite pleasant close to the house.

Positive

On Jul 11, 2006, houstonray from Houston, TX wrote:

I bought one of these at Lowes last Fall after being drawn to the scent from the OTHER SIDE OF THE GARDEN CENTER. It was amazing. I bought 1 and a couple of weeks later bought 3 more. They are all growing in large clay pots and are doing well. They require lots of water when in pots but they are almost constantly in bloom and oh, did I mention the amazing scent?

Positive

On Jun 1, 2006, passiflora_pink from Shelby County, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Although I am in zone 7b the plant regrows from the roots each spring, reaching about 4-5 feet in height and width. The almond scent is intoxicating! It blooms into the fall providing benificial insects with a source of food.

Positive

On Feb 10, 2006, sltxgardener from Sugar Land, TX wrote:

The fragrance alone sold me on this wonderful plant. It seemed to be a favorite of hairstreak butterflies last summer, but attracted many others too. I have it planted with its roots in shade and top in afternoon sun and it is already (early February) covered in blooms, even before it has leafed out. I have seen a mature one that is a large tree and the fragrance still greets you when you are anywhere nearby.

Positive

On Oct 3, 2004, miloco from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Beautiful in tree form as well as in shrub form, this plant is actually considered a perennial. It is a hardy grower and bees, butterflies and hummingbirds just love it.

Positive

On Sep 24, 2003, jermainiac from Seattle, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Proliferous bloom of white flowers on stalks. Strong vanilla-almond perfume. Loved by bees and ladybird beetles.

Cut back in winter. I have seen as a tree but then hard to enjoy the scent.

This plant is not Aloysia triphylla aka Lemon Verbena!