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How Can I Make Potpourri?

Essential oils can add a pleasant fragrance to potpourri.
Tonka beans, which are sometimes used in potpourri.
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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2014
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Potpourri, a mixture of fragrant flowers and leaves often displayed in a pretty glass container, can be a wonderful way to enhance home décor. Commercially-manufactured potpourri is widely available, but making your own is another option you may wish to consider. Homemade mixes make an easy craft project that allows you to create a one-of-a-kind fragrance blend.

To make your potpourri, you can either follow a recipe from a book or simply experiment to find the best results. However, if you choose to develop your creation through trial and error, you may want to consider using a small notebook to keep track of what ingredients you’ve used in case you wish to replicate the results at a later date. Homemade potpourri is made from four basic ingredients: dried flowers or leaves, essential oils, spices or herbs, and fixatives.

If you have a garden, you already have an excellent source for dried flowers and leaves. If not, ask your local florist to save discarded flowers for you. Just remember that flowers and leaves will shrink substantially when dried. You’ll need approximately four cups of flowers and leaves to make one cup of your final mixture.

Spices and herbs can add a wonderful touch to any blend. Generally, it’s best to use approximately one tablespoon of spices or herbs in your potpourri creation. To help release the fragrance, you’ll want to grind any whole spices.

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When choosing essential oils for your homemade potpourri, it’s important to remember that the dried flowers will offer some degree of natural fragrance. For best results, pick an essential oil that complements or enhances the flowers you’ve selected. Add the oil to your mixture one drop at a time, stirring frequently to make sure the oil is evenly dispersed.

Fixatives are used in homemade potpourri to make sure the selected scent remains strong for as long as possible. Orris root is one of the most common fixatives used, since it has a subtle violet fragrance that blends with many other elements. However, if you’re making a vanilla-scented mix, gum benzoin may be a great alternative. Use approximately one tablespoon of fixative per cup of potpourri.

Homemade potpourri should be stored in a closed container for two to three weeks in order to allow the scent to completely penetrate the mixture. Then, you can display it however you choose. When it starts to lose its fragrance, simply add a few drops of essential oil to quickly refresh the scent.

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