How to Make Potpourri

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{Editor's note: I've always been fascinated by potpourri and even wanted to try making a batch of my own. I came across this tutorial that makes it look super easy! - Kathy}

Potpourri….means rotten pot in french…is not hard to make. If you can follow a recipe, you can make potpourri.

Sweet scents were used and brought to this country by immigrants, what was grown here and Native Americans. Herbs and sweet smelling flowers and leaves were a necessity to our ancestors. They were the only medicines they had and women had an area in their homes to make medicines and put recipes together to strew around the home and carried on their persons to keep odors down. These women searched out recipes, made their own and combined all ideas and plants from others.

 It consists of bulk ( flowers or leaves, herbs, barks, cones, dried fruit peel or wood shavings), scent (spices or essential oils…oil can be bought at Walmart in the craft dept. ) and a fixative ( the fixative holds the scent in your mix. ex: orris root, salt and some spices). If you are going to use cedar shavings, buy a bag of pet bedding instead. It’s easier. If your recipe calls for pine needles, pick the branches, cut into 1 foot or so pieces. Put them in a brown bag and shake everyday.

Blend essential oil (EO) in a separate container with the fixative a few days before assembling your mix. Shake ingredients everyday.

Potpourri is not a science. My recipes are suggestions, to get you started. If you want more color, add it. If you don’t like the EO I suggest, add one that you like.

All ingredients must be dried. Moisture will spoil your work. If you are going to store potpourri, put it in glass jars. Save all of the moisture absorbing small packs that come in prescription bottle and add one, if possible.

Harvesting:

It takes awhile to grow your own herbs and flowers to get started. In the meantime, purchase dried materials and orris root at Atlantic Spice Co. or Ebay online. While you’re at it, puchase a bag of whole bay leaves. We’ll make a garland, later.

Pick leaves and flower petals from plants or herbs. The flower petals fall off daily. I never come into the empty-handed. Lay them on a paper towel to dry for about a week. They should feel like corn flakes and crumble easily. If you dry herbs and use them in your kitchen, you can add some to the bottles you already have. When using dried herbs, pour the amount you are using into your hand and grind them with the heel of your other hand, to release the flavor.

Pick bouquets of herbs and flowers, leaving a long stem. Take the leaves off the flower stems. Rubber band the end of the stems and hang upside down to dry. All drying should be done in a dry place.

Dry fruit in oven….see post.

When you put your mix together, put all of it in a jar to cure for 2 weeks. Smell it. If it is not strong enough, add more oil and let sit another week, or so.



 Let’s start with easy ones:

Kitchen Mix

  • 2 c rosemary
  • 1 c marjoram
  • 2 c sage
  • 1 c mint
  • 1/2 c salt (fixative)
  • 1 c citrus peels
  • 1/2 c coriander seeds, crushed
  • 20 drops lemon EO

Make sure all ingredients are dried.

Basic Potpourri

  • 2 c main flowers (for color) Ex: roses, orange blossoms, lilacs, lavender
  • 2 cups second flower (for bulk) Ex: hydrangea, mums
  • 1/4 c crushed spices Ex: cinnamon, cloves
  • 1/2 c citrus peel Ex: orange or lemon
  • 2 T orris root
  • A few drops of your choice EO


Mix last two ingredients together while flowers are drying.

Rose Lavender

  • 1 c pink rose petals ( once again, if you don’t have pink, use red, or what you have)
  • 1/2 c pink rosebuds
  • 1 c lavender buds ( I also use the leaves from lavender)
  • 4 T orris root (orris root is the fixative)
  • 5 drops rose EO
  • 3 drops lavender EO


Mix and store in a jar for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking jar every day. Don’t forget to mix the orris root and oils together for a few days before you assemble the whole thing.

Mint Blend

  • 1 c colored flowers (try day lilies after the bloom stops opening or lay heads of queen anne’s lace out to dry)
  • 2 c lavender
  • 1/2 c orange mint ( if you don’t have orange mint, substitute orange peels and add a little more spearmint)
  • 1/2 c spearmint
  • 1/2 c
  • 1/4 c rosemary
  • 10 drops lavender EO
  • 6 drops bergamot or orange EO


An herb rack… (which is nothing more than a clothes drying rack) and jars and herbs I have collected.

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