Aromatherapy: How to Make Fragrant Potpourri

colorful potpourri in a dish
What You'll Need
Ceramic bowl
Pestle and mortar
Lidded glass jar
2 tablespoon dried root powder of orris
2 drops essential oil like rose oil
1 strip dried lemon peel
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup lavender
1 stick cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon cloves
1/2 cup lemon verbena
1/2 cup leaf geranium leaves
1/2 cup dried rose buds
Paper bag

Commercial potpourri, with its synthetic and often toxic fragrance, is nothing like the versions you can make at home. Have you tried making your own? Whipping up a fragrant potpourri with a combination of dried ingredients is simple and fun.

Making Traditional Household Potpourri

Step 1 - Dry all petals, buds, herbs and flowers until their outer surface appears slightly flaky.

Step 2 - Using scissors, cut petals and flowers into thin strips. Mix dried petals with rose buds and lavender in a bowl. Slice the lemon peel into small pieces and add them to the bowl along with some verbena and geranium.

Step 3 - With the pestle and mortar, grind the cloves and allspice berries until they form a thick paste. Split the cinnamon stick into small pieces. Add all spices and ground ingredients into bowl. Mix thoroughly, then sprinkle in some orris root powder and sprinkle some rose oil on top.

potpourri flowers

Curing Potpourri

Move the freshly prepared mixture from the bowl into a paper bag, fold the edges over a few times and staple it shut. Keep the bag in a dry, dark and warm area for a few days.

Ideally, potpourri should be cured for two weeks without sunlight, with a stir or a shake every three days. At the end of two weeks, transfer the mixture to small glass containers or pretty shadowboxes.

Some people choose to keep the glass containers or boxes closed most of the time, opening for short periods to lightly scent a room. Others prefer to leave the potpourri out all the time to permeate the air.

Choose Your Favorite Ingredients

Potpourri should generally give a subtle scent to an area without being overpowering. Be creative and use the fragrances you love!

potpourri ingredients

Parts of Flowering Plants - Flowers, leaves and even herbs are key when preparing potpourri. Dry the elements thoroughly first to prevent mold from developing later. Reach for fragrant blossoms like lilac and lavender. And don't forget about color! Toss in some pansies, heather, and hibiscus for a visual pop.

Spices - Nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon are some of the most typical choices. Other common ingredients include coriander, vanilla pods, anise, cedar shavings, pine shavings or cones, and cardamom. Make sure spices are freshly-ground and not store bought in powdered-and-packed form. This ensures a stronger aroma in the oil.

Fixatives - These are used to add texture and create the perfect pH environment. Fixatives have natural compounds to absorb moisture and reduce acidity. Common fixatives include gum benzoin and dried orris root. Fragrant allspice and juniper berries are often added to make potpourri thicker.

Contrasting Additives - Dried citrus peels can be added to make the fragrance more pungent. This complements the floral scents and helps keep the potency longer.

Herbs - To add more bulk, include strong smelling lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon thyme and sweet basil. Stronger scents can be made by adding essential oils or extracts to the dried ingredients.