Fire Frog's

Potpourri Page.


A potpourri (pronounced "po-pur-ree") is a natural air-freshener made up of dried flowers/bits of coloured wood/ seeds/leaves/cones etc with added scent for making cupboards and other odd corners smell nice. Almost anything can go into a potpourri, so long as it is very dry (so it won't go moldy). Potpourri is often placed in open containers, like small bowls, cups or baskets, to allow their aroma to delicately scent the room. Sachets are usually small cloth "pillows" containing potpourri. They are often made with lovely materials, satins and lace, with bows and ribbons on them. Sachets have the advantage of being portable, you can place them in drawers, under pillows, hang them in closets, pop them into stored shoes etc. They were once employed to hide the smell of mothballs, which where used to deter insects. Loose potpourri can also be used to fill up those built in ashtrays they insist on putting in cars. It can also be placed in the filling for soft toys, but be sure it is properly dried and cured first.

Potpourri needs a fixative to absorb any scent that is added to make it last longer. Orris root is the one most often used in potpourri. Dry lavender, calamus root, clary sage leaves, deertongue, vetiver root, tonka bean, gum benzoin resin, patchouli leavesoak moss and sandalwood bark are also fixatives. Powdered fixatives are more often used for sachets. In open potpourri the powder detracts from the look, tends to settle on the bottom of the container and will not hold the scent as well as chopped fixatives. However, chopped is harder to find, so I use powdered orrisroot anyway. J The typical measurement is 1 to 2 tablespoons of fixative per 4 cups of petals.

Some people have had trouble finding Orris root to use for Potpourri making. Orris root is not usually used in cooking, but it is usually to be found in healthfood/herb shops! Orris Root's botanical name is Iris florentina, you could try asking for that as well. When used in herbal medicine it can be called Black Flag.

Try looking in healthfood shops, some craft shops (ones that stock aroma therapy/ soap making kits), some pharmacies (under the name Black Flag), in magic shops or possibly even in the herb section of a big supermarket (I have brought some at Coles.).

Commonly it is a herb used to 'fix' aromas onto things. It is used in soap and aroma therapy oil making, as well as potpourri and pomander making. So anywhere that caters for those crafts should stock some.

If worse comes to worse you can try ordering some from the internet, there are a lot of shops sell it by the 5/10gram packet. Be sure to get powdered stuff and not chopped, or you will have to grind it down yourself. Unless you need the chopped stuff, that is!

Please try these places out for yourself, I live in semi rural Australia and can not help you any further than by giving these suggestions. Ta.

A knowledge of aroma-therapy helps select scents to match a mood or create a balance. But in general, something pleasing and long lasting is the way to go. Be sparing when using essential oils to enhance a potpourri, as they are quite strong. With chopped fixatives, place drops of essential oil directly onto the bits, then combine into potpourri. With powdered fixatives, sprinkle on randomly over entire potpourri, then mix.

Some scents used include Flowers: lavender, roses, boronia, carnation, hibiscus, violet etc Spices: cinnamon, cloves, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, sage and rosemary etc. Citrus: well-dried orange, lemon, kumquat, lime or mandarin peel can add a zesty scent. Leaves: dry Eucalyptus, mint, Bay, sweet marjoram and bayberry leaves as well as cedar, balsam, or pine needles are fun to add too.

Flowers can be chosen for colour rather than scent, and some great combinations are available. I like to use sunflower petals to brighten a mix. You can colour co-ordinate your house, or with the celebration you're giving the potpourri as a gift in. For instance pinks and greens for Easter, red and green for Xmas, browns and amber for autumn birthdays, yellow and oranges for summer ones, etc.

Fillers are used to bulk up potpourri. Fillers can be anything from extra leaves and pine cones to coloured glass marbles, glitter and sea shells! Small gold cardboard cut outs of hearts and stars, or paper wedding confetti can be used, except in mixes using scented oils, where they would become stained. If you look at some commercial potpourri you will notice that they are made up of coloured wood shavings. The shavings hold scented oil like a fixative and are colourful and bulky.

Containers can be anything open topped, preferably something with a sealed base so the crumbling bits wont fall out and make a mess. If you have a pest problem put a layer of netting over the top to deter insects. Containers can be: lined baskets, crystal bowls, jelly moulds, copper kettles, goblets, egg cups, vases, antique jewelry boxes, hats, jars, big sea shells and flower pots etc. I even cut out the top of a matchbox once, painted it pink, covered the hole with lace and filled it with potpourri. This tiny scented box is very cute, and fits in a handbag or the corner of a work desk very well!

Simple Dried Potpourri

  1. Collect flowers from the garden at a time when they are open and dry. Collect 3 times as many flowers as you think you will need. (Flowers lose 2/3 of their weight after they have dried.) Shake off any dew and blot to remove excess moisture.
  2. Pull petals from the blossoms, discard the green parts (stem, leaves, flower head), and any brown parts on the petals. Be sure to unfurl them all to separate the individual petals. If they stick together moisture hides between them and they can go moldy. If you are drying roses, tear of the white heal parts on each petal.
  3. Also collect a few leaves, nice sized ones, the drier the better and maybe a piece of tree bark.
  4. Place in a wide flat container. Spread petals thinly allowing plenty of airflow. {I put mine in a big sandwich Tupperware box on my lounge room table (there is hardly any light there if you don't turn on a lamp.) The reverse air conditioner hits it square, and helps things dry out quickly.}
  5. Leave in a dry, well-ventilated area away from strong light. Turn and stir every few days, or each time you pass it by. If the flowers were wet, look for signs of mold and remove those bits immediately. Place absorbent paper on the container bottom to help things dry properly. Remove the paper after the first day.
  6. Petals are ready when they are crisp and dry.
  7. Combine the dry ingredients with a fixative (orrisroot powder!). Add spices, dried bits of citrus fruit or bits of wood impregnated with scented oils i.e. aroma therapy oils.
  8. Mix gently with your hands.
  9. You can now place potpourri to cure in tightly sealed jars for six weeks, or just use it as is.


Getting rid of bugs. I lost a huge amount of potpourri to moths, which lay their eggs in my nice open potpourri boxes. If this happens to you, bag up your potpourri in plastic zip-lock bags and place them in the freezer for a minimum of two weeks. Remove then put over a sieve to get out the dead grubs/weevils etc. Ta-Da, critter free potpourri.

Try placing dried red chili peppers in the potpourri. It seems to drive the weevils away, and looks hot!  

Don't display open potpourri on windowsills or in direct sunlight, it fades the flowers very fast. Also, beware displaying them at child height if you have pieces bigger than a pinky nail as kids will pick things up and stuff 'em in their mouths!

Remember, essential oils etc may bleed through material or baskets, so put a liner of some kind between the potpourri and its holder.

If someone sends you a bunch of flowers you can make the posies into a keepsake. Just pluck the petals and place the resulting potpourri in little memorative boxes! Take the flowers from these special occasions : Flowers from hospital stay during birth of baby, wedding flowers, flowers from table of engagement party, Mothers day posy, first school ball corsage, first date bouquet etc. I made a potpourri from the rose petals thrown instead of rice at my friend's wedding, and gave it to her on her first wedding anniversary!

Easy Lavender Potpourri

One tablespoon powdered orrisroot fixative.

One cup of dried lavender flowers and/or dried lavender leaves.

Mix in a big bowl and blend with your hands. Seal the mixture in a jar and place it in a warm, dark, dry place to cure for six weeks. Place in sachets, boxes etc. The dried leaves are good for using in sachets, as they smell as nice as the flowers, and in can't be seen. Use the prettier flowers for open potpourri mixes. 

Easy Rose Potpourri.

One tablespoon powdered orrisroot fixative.

One cup of dried rose petals.

Rose scented essential oil.

Half a tablespoon each of spices.

For each cup of petals you have, add one tablespoon of orrisroot. Next, add your favourite complementary spice. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, dried citrus peel and vanilla beans all make excellent choices. Last, add a few drops of essential oil using an eye dropper. Seal your potpourri mixture in a jar, allowing it to cure for approximately 10 days.  

To refresh a potpourri, just give it a stir every two weeks or so.


Happy Bowl.

This is a 'Happy Bowl'. On slips of paper you stamp out some pictures, then write something good that you have done, or was done for you. You place the slips into a bowl along with some potpourri, glitter, marbles and whatever else makes you smile. Then, when you feel a bit sad, you pick out a happy card and remind yourself good things have happened, and will again. There you go: a happy bowl!

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