How to Make Potpourri

It's easy to make your own potpourri
It's easy to make your own potpourri (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Potpourri, with its colorful mix of dried flowers and other botanicals, adds both beauty and fragrance to your home. While you can purchase potpourri at home décor stores, creating your own is actually quite easy, and you can customize it according to the season or your personal taste. Homemade potpourri also makes a thoughtful gift for any occasion.

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Start with Dried Flowers

Dried flowers are the foundation of potpourri
Dried flowers are the foundation of potpourri (Image: Jonathan Fong)

The foundation for potpourri is dried flowers.

• It's easy to dry rose petals using a microwave or conventional oven.

• Besides rose petals, you can dry whole flowers like chrysanthemums, sunflowers and hydrangeas.

• About half of your potpourri mixture should consist of dried flowers.

• Keep stashes of dried flowers on hand so you can whip up a batch of potpourri at a moment's notice.

Incorporate Herbs

Accentuate your potpourri with fragrant herbs
Accentuate your potpourri with fragrant herbs (Image: Jonathan Fong)

While the dried flowers might have a subtle scent, herbs like lavender and rosemary will accentuate your potpourri with more intense fragrance.

Dry the herbs before adding them to your potpourri.

• Raid your spice rack for aromatic spices like cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

• Smell your mixture as you add herbs to make sure that they complement, rather than overpower, each other.

Take Advantage of Found Botanicals

Look for botanicals in your own backyard
Look for botanicals in your own backyard (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Usually, a yard is a treasure trove of botanicals you can use for your potpourri. And best of all, it's all free.

• Tree bark adds a hearty texture to your mixture. If it comes off your tree in large sheets, the bark can even be used as a decorative dish for the potpourri.

• Cut up branches into small sticks for a woody element.

• Save leaves that fall to the ground and dry them. Eucalyptus leaves in particular retain their shape and color after drying, making them ideal potpourri accents.

Use Interesting Filler

Personalize your potpourri with interesting filler
Personalize your potpourri with interesting filler (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Give your potpourri a personal touch by adding unique filler to the mix of flowers and botanicals.

• Consider conversation-starting objects like vintage keys.

• Sea shells lend a nautical feel to your potpourri, making it perfect for summertime decorating.

• You can also purchase bags of potpourri filler at crafts stores. They can contain anything from pinecones to dried orbs to feathers.

Add Essential Oil

Essential oils turn your potpourri into aromatherapy
Essential oils turn your potpourri into aromatherapy (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Although all the elements of your potpourri may be fragrant, adding some essential oils to the mixture will tie all the scents together.

• Essential oils are highly concentrated and fragrant liquids derived from various flowers, herbs and fruits.

• Essential oils turn your potpourri into aromatherapy, so select oils like peppermint for energy, or lavender for relaxation.

• Add 5 or 6 drops of your desired essential oil to your potpourri mixture.

Finish with Fixative to Preserve the Scent

Preserve the fragrance with some fixative
Preserve the fragrance with some fixative (Image: Jonathan Fong)

After you've added fragrant essential oil to your potpourri, help prevent the fragrance from escaping by sprinkling some fixative to the mixture. The fixative will prolong the shelf life of the scent, so your potpourri will freshen your home for months.

• Orris root is one of the most common fixatives used in making potpourri.

• It comes in either a powder or chopped into small pieces.

• The powder can coat your potpourri more evenly, but it can be messy.

• One to two tablespoons of the fixative is sufficient to lock in the fragrance.

Assembe the Potpourri

Mix it all in a large bowl
Mix it all in a large bowl (Image: Jonathan Fong)

When you've gathered all your ingredients, mix them together in a large bowl.

• Adjust the amounts of individual elements for the right mix in terms of visual and aromatic appeal.

• Pour the mixture into a sealed container, and store 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dry place in your home to allow the scent to reach its peak fragrance.

• Stir or shake the contents once a week to evenly distribute the fixative and scent.

• When the potpourri is ready, display it in bowls, baskets and dishes around the house. Keep some in mason jars for future use, or to give as gifts.

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