Potpourri – A Fragrant Gift

Summary: Potpourri combines different colors, textures and scents to create a personalized gift with endless combinations of mixtures.

Growing flowers, especially a garden of wonderful scented plants, making potpourri is an easy addition to enjoying a flowering garden. Potpourri by definition is a scented mixture of dried flower petals, flowering and non-flowering herbs, and spices. The scented mixture is usually placed in a decorative bowl or made into sachets to release the potpourri blended fragrances.

The word potpourri comes from the French word “pot-pourri”. The English translation of “potpourri” is often used to refer to a collection of miscellaneous or diverse items. Potpourri uses a collection of diverse natural materials that brighten and freshen up rooms and have for hundreds of years.

Making potpourri is an endless opportunity to get creative with mixtures and colors of botanicals. Some examples of botanicals would be flower petals, flowers buds/blooms, pods, cones, moss, wood shavings, leaves and even shells. Scents can affect the feeling in a room such as a lavender mixture creates a calming feeling while citrus blended scents create an up-lifting clean feeling in a room.

Potpourri has three basic components to consider when creating the fragrant mixture; filler, fixative and fragrance.

• spices
• flowers and herbs (fragrant)
• flowers, herbs and leaves (non-fragrant)

When using fresh filler items that will need to be dried, gather four times the amount of items needed to allow for the shrinkage that occurs during the drying process. The drying process can take up to 2 weeks when using air drying or hanging method.


Fixative is the generic word used for the mixing material used to hold the scent of the potpourri. The fixative keeps the potpourri mixture smelling fresh and can be renewed with a few drops of essential oils. Common fixative material used in potpourri is orris root, oak moss, and wood shavings as well as packaged cellulose fiber fixatives.


Essential oils can be used in potpourri mixtures. Fragrance is placed on the fixative material since putting the essential oils on the filler won’t last as long.

Potpourri Combination Ideas:

Flowers and Fruits
• lavender
• roses (petals and buds)
• jasmine
• eucalyptus
• mums
• orange peels
• lemon peels
• apple slices

Herbs and Spices
• mint
• lemon balm
• rosemary
• cinnamon sticks
• cloves
• vanilla beans

Fillers and Fixatives
• orris root
• oak moss
• sandalwood chips
• wood shavings
• cypress wood

Anything in the flower garden can be used to make an aromatic potpourri mixture. Always start with dry materials, either air dried, use of a dehydrator or purchased for the project. Next, start putting together a recipe, combine colors and aromas that complement each other. A good floral combination includes:
• 10 marigold blossoms
• 6 geranium leaves
• 5 rose blossoms
• 2 tsp dried lavender
• 2 tsp orrisroot
• 2 drops rose fixative

Mix the fixatives and fillers together and place in a container with a tight fitting lid. A simple method of combining is 2 parts dried flowers, 1 part dried herbs and leaves, 1 part spices, fixative (1 tbsp per 1 cup dried flowers) fragrance ( 2 drops per 1 tbsp of fixative). Plastic containers work well to put the mixed potpourri in, but make certain no fragrance or essential oils touches directly on the plastic. Cover the mixture tightly and place in a dark, cool place for 4 to 6 weeks to allow the mixture to absorb the fragrance. Every second day gently stir the mixture.
When using the potpourri, keep the potpourri mixture away from heat sources, to keep it fresh smelling. When the scents fade, add more essential oil or fragrant oil to the mixture.

Potpourri can be a stunning display of one type of flower or a combination of blending two or more plants and natural materials together. Be creative in mixing a unique blend that makes an original statement of color and scents. The combinations are only as endless as your imagination will allow.