Most of us are pretty sentimental about flowers. It might be roses from our first love, the flowers we carried down the aisle, that surprise valentine’s day bouquet or even funeral flowers. All of these can be saved in potpourri. Besides special flowers, we can harvest sources for potpourri from our gardens and even along the roadside. All sorts of blossoms, leaves, seedpods, and berries make a wonderful addition to this scented treat. If you’ve been making wreaths or dried arrangements gather up the left over bits and pieces. They might not be pretty enough or large enough for the wreath, but the small scraps are just what is needed for potpourri.

Nearly every blend of potpourri contains flowers, spices, oils and a fixative. The oil will determine the main scent and the fixative is what holds the scent. Oils, you’ll find, will be labeled ‘essential oils’ or ‘fragrance oils’. The essential oils are those extracted from plant material while the fragrance oils are synthetic versions. Some fragrance oils do a good job of matching their natural counterpart, while others don’t even come close. Smell before you buy, if possible.


The fixative, for hundreds of years, has been orris root. This is the dried root of the Florentine Iris. There are other fixatives from ground corncobs to cellulose fiber that are generally less expensive. Because the fiber is quite absorbent, you will need to use more of the oil then you would if using orris root.

Mix one teaspoon of your chosen oil with about one cup of the cellulose fiber. Keep in a covered glass jar for about two days, shaking and mixing to make sure all the oil is distributed to the fiber. Add to the dried flower ingredients after the two days.

Potpourri can be used in dozens of ways. Some potpourri is made without a fixative and can be simmered in water to release a wonderful fragrance when heated. Lavender can be used in pillows or placed in small bags between couch or chair cushions. The scent will be released when someone sits down. Sachet bags, made from old lace and ribbon can be stitched and filled with potpourri to tuck into closets and drawers.

It’s said that if good potpourri is covered for the same length of time it’s uncovered that it will last for years. However, if displayed in a basket or other open type container and it seems to loose strength, refresh by adding more oil.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to try:

  • 4 cups of dried petals and leaves
  • 2 TBS orrisroot granules or other fixative material
  • 15 drops of rose oil
  • 5 drops of geranium oil
  • 10 drops of sandalwood oil

Mix in a gallon jar, cover and age for three weeks, shaking or stirring daily. Put in the container of our choice and enjoy the bounty of nature all year long.



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