Dried flowers have been used since Medieval times and before to bring a bit of perfume to what was, at the time, an often smelly world!
Dried flowers, in particular dried lavender, were used in Medieval times to freshen rooms and laundry. (Lavender is still used today in washing powder and home fragrance). Early makers of potpourri would have used dried rose petals and buds to add a hint of luxury, and any other herbs or dried flowers from the garden might have been added for a pretty (looking and smelling) mix.
If you have a garden, have a look round for common plants which may be useful: a rose bush, a lavender bush, and herbs such as rosemary, lemon balm and marjoram. These can all be picked and dried in bunches in your airing cupboard. Flowers or leaves which are highly fragrant when fresh stand more chance of retaining some scent when dried.
More about drying your own flowers
Whichever potpourri making method you use, you will need 3 or 4 components:
Method 1: Traditional potpourri making
In this method of potpourri making, the dried flowers you are using as base ingredients are mixed together with a few drops of essential oil and a small amount of fixative such as orris root powder. Shake thoroughly to mix, and seal for about six weeks inside a tupperware box or plastic container. This allows the fragrance to develop. Store this in a warm dark place, shaking every couple of weeks.
A simple potpourri making recipe would use about 25% dried lavender by weight mixed with rose buds and rose petals, an orris root powder fixative, and rose and lavender essential oils.
Traditional potpourri making: Dried flower combinations for different parts of the house
Nearly all traditional potpourri making recipes include dried lavender. This is fragrant, plentiful and has a scent associated with cleanliness (in fact the name is derived from the Latin for “To wash”).
For the kitchen: Try adding dried herbs to a base of dried lavender, with lavender and rosemary essential oils.
For the bedroom: The traditional lavender/rose mix is great for bedrooms, as the lavender aids sleep while the rose element is for romance.
For the bathroom: Clean smelling dried lavender with dried citrus and orange and/or lemon oil – this one will also help wake you up in the morning!
Method 2: The quick way – Modern potpourri making
A modern short cut in potpourri making is to omit the fixative and associated fixing or “developing” time and use home fragrance oils instead of essential oils. Fragrance oils do not require a fixative as they have been designed to provide a good fragrance over a long period of time. If you are using this method, then just shake all your dried flowers / potpourri ingredients in a plastic bag with a few drops of oil and leave to stand for a few hours to permeate.
Here is my Lavender Lime Potpourri Recipe using this method
Toppers in potpourri making
Toppers are decorative pieces for the top of your potpourri. If you are using dried flowers from your garden, it is only natural to want to put the prettiest ones on top! Or if you press your own flowers, these can also be very attractive. Other toppers for potpourri making might be woven corn or wicker shapes, mini lavender bunches or sola roses.
[With all home-made and ready-made fragranced products, avoid contact with polished, painted and synthetic surfaces, keep out of reach of pets, test before contacting with textiles]
Buy dried lavender | Buy home fragrance | Buy dried rose petals
Buy dried rose buds | Buy other herbs or potpourri making ingredients
Buy orris root powder | Buy lavender essential oil | Buy fragrance oils
Buy mini lavender bunches | Buy sola roses