It’s the only unfortunate fact of receiving a big, beautiful bunch of flowers – they won’t keep their bloom forever. If you grow your own flowers, you’ll know that even the most beautiful rose wilts. But there’s no reason not to enjoy your flowers – for longer.
If you can’t do without the natural fragrance of flowers in your home, and you want to savour all that you can of their beauty, why not try out the ancient art of potpourri?
Making a potpourri arrangement from your flowers guarantees that your blooms will be with you everyday, with a cornucopia of natural and arranged scents, while also creating a stunning, organic feature that will decorate any surface you pop it on.
How it’s made
Potpourri literally translates from French into ‘rotten bowl’, but don’t let the name fool you! Inside, you’ll be placing a range of spices, oils, flowers, perfumes, and garnishes that’ll brighten up the mixture and make it aesthetically pleasing.
In fact, you don’t have to stick just to flowers when making potpourri. Some fragrant woods such as cedar, cinnamon, or juniper, or even citrus rind or mint can serve as a base. Ultimately, all you need are these three basic types of ingredient:
These are your flowers and spices (whole, rather than powdered), as well as any ingredients that won’t release an aroma but will look good alongside those that do.
This is the magic wand, a substance designed to draw out the natural aroma of the bulk ingredients. Orris root and citrus peel are the classical examples here, but not the only choices.
We use these to compliment the existing ingredients, and provide a long-lasting accompaniment that can be re-added to elongate the life of your Potpourri. There are far too many to name, but our favourites are geranium, vanilla and pine.
How to make your own
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start concocting your own. This is much, much simpler than it seems at first, but you should plan out your final product before you start work to save yourself some time in the future.
Before you begin: plan it out!
If you don’t know the precise combination of scents that you want, it’s time to do a little bit of reconnaissance. Check out a few common combinations with the flowers that you have on hand (for example, rose goes divinely with cinnamon and lavender). And don’t be afraid to go into a store with a cutting on hand – and have a sniff around. You’ll get the knack of scent matching in no time. Be passionate about your research, because ultimately, the smell that you choose should be something that you love.
- Your flowers
- A dry, warm surface (or a tray + oven)
- A sealable bowl to keep the mixture in
- Your fixative (most commonly used is Orris Root)
- Your oils of choice
- Any bulking or purely aesthetic ingredients such as pine cones or non-fragrant flowers
- Scissors or clippers
There are two ways to easily make Potpourri, one of which is a little more hands on – but will ultimately come out a lot more fragrant and authentic.
Quick and dirty
The first option is extraordinarily simple. Just get your bulk and flowers together with your fixative and place it within a sealable bag of your choosing.
After you’ve done that, add your oil very slowly to the mix (a couple of drops at a time) while mixing it around.
Leave it somewhere out of the sun for a couple of months, regularly mixing it every couple of days, and you’re done.
This method is a little more complex. Ultimately, it’ll produce potpourri of a higher quality than the first option, but it’s really up to you.
1. Clip off your individual flower heads close to the stem (or, if you’re not using whole flowers, remove the petals from each flower) and prep any other whole ingredients in the method you’d like to display them.
2. To dry your ingredients, you can do one of three things:
- Store in a warm, dry place for a few days until they’re dry, turning every second day.
- Store in an airtight container, place silica gel in with them, and leave it sit for half a week.
- Spray your bulk and fixative with a mixture of your oil and water (you’re going to want at minimum 10 drops of mixture to each tablespoon of water) and pop it in the oven on low for a few hours, or until they’re dried. NOTE: This skips part 3, as you can take this straight from the oven into the presentation container.
3. Once they’re dried, get a separate container and place your fixative in it. Add three or four drops of oil directly to it and mix thoroughly.
4. Add the bulk, arrange in the style of your choosing, and add to presentation bowl.
5. If the mixture starts to lose its scent, simply spritz with a bottle of water and oils (10:1 ratio of water to oil).
Enjoy your homemade potpourri
This will keep the whole year around, or at least until your next batch of fresh flowers start to wilt – and become are perfect contenders for your next batch of potpourri. Once you’re adept with your potpourri making, start experimenting with seasonal produce: change your choice of flowers, their colours and scents. Warmer months love bold, gem colours, with fresh, citrusy aromas; while the cooler months lend themselves to more rustic hues, and scents like sandalwood and ginger. Inspired? Start your potpourri today!