Potpourri is often inexpensive and available at a wide range of stores. However, it also often smells synthetic and overwhelming at first. Here's the biggest advantage to making your own potpourri. You can control what smells you use, use all-natural ingredients and essential oils, and even control the look. It isn't hard to do and over time, you can have fun making potpourri for gifts, and even for sale if you so desire.
Choose your ingredients. The first step is to choose the ingredients that you wish to use for your potpourri. Most plants will quickly lose their scents as they dry, but this is how you will control the colors, textures, and look of your potpourri. There are lots of options for great potpourri.
- Flowers and petals. The most common of potpourri product is flowers, especially petals. You can use any flower that you can dry. This leaves out some of the moister, thicker, and fleshier flowers (such as wax flowers and impatients), but will give you a wide variety of choices. You can gather them from your garden, ask a florist for old flowers, or even buy dried versions online.
- Herbs. There is a wide range of herbs that make great additives to your potpourri. You can get them fresh from your garden or the store, however you can also buy dried types in craft stores and online.
- Nuts and seeds. There are a wide range of nuts and seeds that can add a lot of great looks to your potpourri. You can gather acorns, walnuts, and other items from your yard or neighborhood. You can also buy items online such as nutmeg and anise seeds.
- Spices. We all have a wide range of spices that can look great and smell great as well. Whether you are using powdered versions for a little bit of added smell or using cinnamon sticks or nutmegs (or other options) in your potpourri, they can add to the fragrance and the texture of your potpourri.
- Fruit. Fruit can add a lot of great colors and textures to a bowl, jar, or pot of potpourri. Some great options are citrus and apples. You will have to make fruit choices that dry well so they will be dried long before they rot.
- Roots. While roots aren't as popular, some can add great looks. Some options can be ginger or crystals made from ginger. You can also dry root slices such as parsnips and carrots.
If you are gathering any from outside, you should do your gathering in late morning after the dew has dried from the plants, but before the sun has gotten hot.
Dry your materials. You have several options for drying any fresh materials you have. No matter what you choose as your drying method, all materials should be thoroughly dried before use in potpourri or they could cause molding issues.
- Hang out to dry. You can gather flowers and herbs into bunches. Tie them together and hang them in a well-ventilated area. Most flowers and herbs will dry within a month's time, but could take as long as six weeks.
- In the sun. You can separate out your flowers, seeds, roots, nuts, and fruits and lay them in a single layer on paper towels in a sunny windowsill. Most items will dry within a week or two.
- In the oven. You can turn your oven on warm and lay out your materials on a baking dish or tray. Place your materials in the oven and check progress every fifteen to twenty minutes. Most of your materials will be dry within a couple of hours.
- In the microwave. You can also wrap items in paper towel and microwave them in one-minute intervals. Most materials will dry in five to ten minutes (or less).
- With silica gel granules. Many plants, flowers, and herbs can be dried in the microwave with silica gel and look really good when done. To do this, place one inch of gel granules on the bottom of a microwave safe dish (that you are willing not to use again) and then place your materials on the gel. Finish by fully covering materials with additional gel and microwaving. Microwave at one-minute intervals.
Each drying method has different results with different materials and you will probably want to experiment to get the looks you desire. You can also buy most plant materials dried from online sources and even many craft stores.
Mix up the potpourri. Once all of your materials are dried and chosen for their looks, you will want to prepare your potpourri. To do this, mix your plant materials together. Gently sprinkle with your favorite essential oils. You can use a single scent such as lavender or mix them together such as lavender vanilla. Go light and add a few drops, stir well, add a few more drops and so on until the scent you desire is achieved. Set the potpourri scent with 2 tablespoons of orris root powder for every 2 cups of plant materials. Stir in well. This will help the scent stay with the material.
Let it set. Your potpourri should be stored in an airtight container or bag (a Ziploc bag works nicely) for six to eight weeks. Shake it up every few days to get the fragrance to coat all of the materials well.
Display it or give it away. You have lots of display and gift options once your potpourri is mixed up. You can show it off in a jar (a nice ribbon makes for a great finished look). Adding it to a pretty bowl or basket is often an option. You can also make small satchels from it to use in the bathroom, closet, or even to set on the shelf. You have the choice of what to do with your beautiful potpourri.
Your handmade potpourri will have a more pleasant smell than store-bought varieties and be all natural. It will have a look and feel that you created and can be used all over the house for great smells and a beautiful display. Your potpourri will carry its scent for 8-12 weeks, giving you plenty of time to always have fresh available!