Alert! Extremely Fragrant “Corn Plant” is blooming!

by | Dec 16, 2012 | raw materials of perfumery | 10 comments

The flower of Dracaena fragrans Massangeana is ugly-looking, no way about it, but WOW! does it fill the nighttime air with an intoxicating, heady, narcotic, sweet scent.  I opened the front door tonight to put check out the jasmine vine as I put on the light, and was enveloped in the incredible fragrance.  I have a huge plant in the front garden, off to the side, partially hidden by other plants.  That’s why I’m always surprised every December when all of a sudden it fills the street with this scent – yes, it travels about 100′ in every direction.


You may know this plant and its unstriped cousins as ‘corn plant’, a common office plant.  It takes total neglect – no water, fertilizer, etc.

I used to harvest the flowers and tincture the petals for a perfume base, but no more.  it’s just too labor intensive. See, I have to pluck the tiny, tiny petals off the calyx, because the calyx stinks if put in alcohol. I still have a stash of it for custom perfume customers, and I’ll have to have my arm twisted to go through that harvesting process again

So, here’s a photo of the gawky flowers.  Who knew what beauty could explode from this?


  1. Sheree Tompkins

    Wow, I didn’t know this plant would bloom, much less make fragrant blossoms. I have 3 cuttings growing from a giant one I left behind when I moved. I bet it needs the 12/12 hours of dark/light to prompt it into blooming. Maybe I should place it under a grow light and see if I can get it to bloom.


    • anya

      Hi Sheree:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, photoperiodism may play a role, just know it only blooms once a year, in December, for a week.

      Best wishes and xoxo

  2. Brian Shea

    Yes, Anya, the flowers do look like some sort of pathological growth, don’t they?

  3. Naheed

    I am back to pot gardening once again and planted Queen of the night, Jasmine sambac and King of the day and now I am going to google if this corn plant also does well in my reagion. I am all for fragrant plants. Thanks for this post lovely Anya. xxx

    • anya

      I hope you can grow it Naheed!


  4. sheryl beller-kenner

    When I lived in Miami, I never saw the cornflower bloom! You must have a special relationship with your plant and that’s why it gives you such aromatic gifts!

    • anya

      Thanks Sheryl, but this plant thrives on neglect, so I can’t take credit.

      Right now, I’m focused on veggies, because now is when we grow them here. That’s a lot of work!


  5. Musette

    I like Sheryl Beller-Kenner’s explanation! I was intrigued by your post and thinking ‘hmmmmm….maybe I….and then I remembered that a) I live in Illinois and b) I live in Illinois. December in IL is rough, even with a greenhouse, which I don’t have. So I’ll just have to imagine this scent. But I imagine it must have that shocking effect that a Korean Spice Bush has, where it’ll knock you down with the fragrance and then, in a trice, it’s gone…


  6. Dana Tate

    Congratulations on your new blog site. 🙂

    I was just telling a friend of mine that I would love to learn more about perfumery. I have enjoyed working with essential oils for many years, and I am currently madly in love with resins. I will be following your posts during your Solstice event.

    Much love!

  7. mary

    I’ve never seen or smelled the bloom of a corn plant – hope to someday. Thanks for the garden stories; it’s nice to consider the possibilities!

    Everything about your fragrances and their presentation, Anya, is exquisite.

    Please enter me in your solstice sweepstakes. With a little bit of luck . . .