How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

In today’s world of scented candles, air fresheners, and plug-in deodorizers, the art of drying flowers and using them to fragrance your home seems quaint. However, making potpourri is an easy craft, the supplies are very inexpensive, and it’s a way to reduce and recycle while limiting the chemicals you use in your home. Even if you don’t grow all of the flowers you’d like to include in your potpourri mix, a neighbor might not mind handing over a few stems that are past their prime in the garden, especially if you promise her a homemade sachet in return.

Choose Potpourri Flowers and Plant Material

The best flowers for potpourri are those that retain their color and shape when you dry them. If they are fragrant too, that is a bonus, but you can always add fragrance. In fact, it’s better not to use too many fragrant flowers, as the perfumes can clash when combined.

Annual flowers you can grow and harvest for potpourri include bachelor’s button, calendula, gomphrena, larkspur, pansy, and scented geranium. Excellent perennial flower choices for potpourri are lavender, rose (especially in bud), dianthus, and chrysanthemum.

Half of the appeal of a good potpourri mix is visual, so consider supplementing with natural materials you gather from woods and fields around your home, like seed pods or small pine cones. Look to your pantry for fragrant and beautiful additives like whole nutmeg berries, whole cloves, dried citrus rind, whole star anise, and cinnamon sticks. Finally, no one will think you’re cheating if you add a sprinkling of mixers from the hobby store, like sandalwood chips, eucalyptus leaves, and tonka beans.

Potpourri Making Supplies

Purchase a fixative to help your potpourri fragrance last longer. Orris root, made from the rhizomes of irises, is one of the most popular fixatives.   The powdered root has a light floral fragrance. Other fragrant fixatives include vanilla beans, oakmoss, angelica root, and myrrh gum. Each of these exotic fixatives should make up about ten to twenty percent of the potpourri mix.

What Are Fixatives?

Fixatives are a natural or synthetic substance that reduces the evaporation rate of oil and water in the plants used to make potpourri so that it lasts longer. Here’s how: The plants used to make potpourri naturally consist of oils and water that, over time, evaporate, making the potpourri less effective.

Small vials of essential oils are another fragrance-boosting ingredient. You can add oils at the initiation of the potpourri making process, or later when the mix begins to lose its scent. Oils are richly fragrant and should be used sparingly. In fact, too much of essential oil can impart a medicinal smell to your potpourri, which might be desirable for chasing insects from a musty closet, but isn’t pleasing in the living room. Essential oils can mirror the ingredients of your potpourri, like a rose, lavender, or citrus.

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The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Moist or Dry Potpourri Recipes

For the most fragrant potpourri, start with freshly picked ingredients you’ve dried for a few days. The materials should be pliable and not yet brittle. Layer plant materials with coarse salt in a bowl, alternating layers. After a few weeks, stir the mixture and add your fixatives and oils. After six months, your moist potpourri will be ready to use.

The quickest way to make potpourri is with completely dry plant material. No salt is required; just add your oils and fixatives and stir gently with a wooden spoon. After a month, the scents will be blended together and your potpourri ready.

Potpourri Display

Choose any type of non-metal container or vessel to display your potpourri, as metals can react with the essential oils. Baskets, jars, and bowls are common potpourri holders. Choose a container with a perforated lid if pets or small children can’t resist picking through the dried flowers. To create a sachet for scenting clothes and closets, tie or sew a scrap of pretty fabric or a lacy handkerchief together, and fill with your mix. You can even give Fido’s bed a fresh spin through the dryer with a sewn sachet.

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The potpourri project: urgent update on fixatives

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Photo: Why pums? I’m making a new chilli plum chutney tomorrow!

I haven’t has time to make as much potpourri as I would like to – which is lucky as I’ve discovered that I’m allergic to orris root. Up until this week I’ve used a spoon to mix the potpourri and ladle it in and out of jars so I had no idea. It was only when I was working with Lynn that I scooped some rose potpourri into a pretty bowl for her to photograph. I stirred it with my hand and within seconds my palm was burning. The agony was quickly flushed away with cold water.

If Shill hadn’t mentioned that some people are allergic to orris root on my homemade pomander post, I wouldn’t have twigged what was happening. Incidentally I’ve rubbed my hands with the pomander spice mix and have had no adverse reaction as the orris is diluted by the rest of the spices.

On an aside, orris powder is reckoned by some to be a potent love potion, sprinkled on pillows and bed linen. Here it would immediately precipitate cold showers!

Orris root is a fixative. A fixative is essential to preserve the scent of potpourri and stop it just smelling of old hay within a few months. The root and powder is very expensive so I hadn’t invested in loads, thank goodness.

What was I going to use as an alternative fixative? My fingers flew across the keyboard into the wonderful realm of the Internet. I discovered that all these herbs, leaves and spices can be used as a fixative: If you are making dry potpourri they all need to be dried.
Vetivert (vetiver)
Calamus root
Gum benzoin
Patchouli leaves
Cellulose fibre
Clary sage leaves
Nutmeg (ground)
Myrtle leaves

And there must be many, many more.

I think that the reason why Barbara Ohrbach’s recipes work so well is that she uses several fragrant fixatives in her potpourri. She reckons that orris root is the easiest fixative to find so it’s included in most of her recipes. But with the above list you can supplement orris root with something else, if you are worried about allergic reactions. Potpourri needs to be trifled with every day or so to activate the scent. If you are interested in making your own potpourri why not invest in her bestselling book? The Scented Room can be bought on Amazon for just 1p plus postage! It has been in print since the 1980’s and is a classic.

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Flowers never disappoint people as they make them feel better and happier always; they are the sunlight, food, and medication to the spirit. To get better of the aroma of a flower is a delightful shape of winning. Try to recall the moment when you walked into a garden with lots of flowers scattering their aroma. How that great scent had full your whole being with the feeling of happiness and admiration?

The aroma of real nature can certainly do wonders to our feelings and lets us sense greater aspects of beauty everywhere. And there is not a greater place to inculcate that innate aroma than our homes. Think of that aroma greeting you without exception when you go inside your house and adding positivism. Getting a wonderful set of potpourri can assist you in obtaining that one.

With that, let us learn more regarding potpourri and how you can change your homes by utilizing it.

What is Potpourri?

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Potpourri is solely a pot with a blend of parched flowers, seasonings, natural herbs, essential oils, etc. They are put in unlocked pots or punctured vessels. The aroma is potpourri is sometimes obtained by putting a medium named fixative and essential oils to the blend of parched flowers. You can put these pots everywhere in your homes and workplaces as they take action like real air fresheners.

The notion of potpourri is recorded to have derived in France, where French used to decorate pots with parched flowers in their homes. For many years, the idea received popularity, particularly for those who love gardening.

Things Needed in Making Potpourri

If you find pleasure in experimenting and have some creative power as well as inventiveness, you can gain pleasure in making potpourri. To do that, you need the following fundamental ingredients:

Parched Flowers

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

You can opt from several flowers varying on their appearance and aroma. When you desire to have ostentatious flowers with a noticeable look, you may select oils and fixatives that have a vigorous aroma. Nonetheless, you may choose extremely aromatic flowers and select fine-drawn essential oils. Other flowers that successfully do with potpourri are rose, lavender, tulips, and a lot more.

Please be reminded to always gather a lot of flowers, which you arrange to make in potpourri, as they can be lesser in amount once dried.

Spices, Foliage, and Herbs

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

You put your most favored spices, especially the ones with an amazing aroma, and also splash your potpourri with pip and roots. Please note that it is not necessary to take an extra amount of foliage because they tend to parch instantly. You may opt to have aromatic foliage that has chunky appearance such as viburnum and foliage of geraniums. You may as well put scented herbs to this blend like rosemary, and eucalyptus.


How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Fixatives are very important components of potpourri. They apprehend the aroma of the blend in potpourri and free it gently into the environment. A great fixative assures that the aroma can stay for long. Other fixatives that can be utilized are Vetiver, cellulose, oakmoss, and roots achieved from iris. They can be bought in herb shops or health food stores.

Essential Oils

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

There is an extensive assortment of essential oils that can be bought. You can mix these oils to provide a definite scent to potpourri. If you are a novice, please do not exceed a blend of two or the highest three oils. You may test every time later and know which one thrives in for you.

Potpourri Pot and Jar

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

It is necessary not to select metal as bowls and jars in potpourri because they can change the original aroma of the blend by acting with them. It is better to have wooden, glass, or ceramic vessels to take the potpourri. With the, you can assure that they can keep the aroma well as well as appear tremendous in your house, workplace or wherever you intend to place it.

Steps in Making Potpourri

Since you have already gathered the needed items, this is the moment to be more innovative and begin making potpourri. You can follow these basic steps and continue putting your selections on them to create your distinctive potpourri.

  1. Trim the stalk and firstly segregate the fore of the flowers. Put this blend on a tray and add up other components you desire like spices, foliage, herbs, and the like.
  2. This time add up fixatives on this blend. The suggestion is to put two tablespoons every four cups of parched objects. Lastly, you may splash essential oils based on the aroma you desire to make.
  3. Parch the flowers first before getting ready with the blend above. The efficacious yet the longest step to make this is to put up the flowers upturned in a punctured bag. They usually take 3 to 4 weeks to parch. With that, you can utilize them for potpourri. Or you may pursue the ways above to make an initial blend and parch them together.
  4. Put the entire tray to the oven and parch it for 2 hours. The notion is not to scorch the flowers but only to make them breakable enough. Remove the blend from the oven and, for the second time, splash essential oils on it.
  5. To make the potpourri more efficacious, leave the blend for a longer time. To do this, move the blend to a penetrated cloth or purse. Fasten the upper part of the purse with clips. Softly shake it for many times so that the fixatives and essential oils will scatter throughout the blend.
  6. Keep the purse away from the heat of the sun by placing it in a dark room and permit it to parch for 4 to 6 weeks. Do not forget to shake the purse occasionally.
  7. When the blend is parched, put more essential oils on it. Now, you can already put it on your selected bowl or jar, and the potpourri is all set to give a brand new aroma of flowers in your house.
  8. For some time, you can continue putting small drops of essential oils to keep the aroma of potpourri.

Now you already understand how to create potpourri. There are somehow countless chances of creating potpourri utilizing distinct flowers, essential oils, and fixatives. Additionally, people utilize them in several ways to carry the real aroma of their garden to their homes or offices.

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Wondering how to make potpourri? It’s a fun and simple DIY project. You can add potpourri sachets to your closet or drawers to invigorate your clothing, linens and towels with a delicious fragrance, or you can add it to bowls, jars and vases around your house and use it as sweet-smelling home decor. Learn how to make potpourri in 5 simple steps!

1. Preheat your oven to 200˚F and gather your supplies.

Turn your oven on to 200˚F and while it’s heating up, gather your potpourri supplies. You’ll need:

  • sheet pan
  • parchment paper
  • flowers
  • orris root
  • essential oils
  • Jar or bowl to keep the potpourri in

2. Prepare your flowers.

Prepare your flowers by snipping off stems and/or removing individual petals. The great thing about potpourri is you can use any flower — choose your favorite colors and scents. You can use individual flower petals or the whole flower head — either way works! We like to incorporate a mixture of both whole heads and petals to give the potpourri more visual interest. If you’re not sure which flower to choose, roses are a go-to. Rose petals are incredibly fragrant and make for great DIY potpourri. Other popular choices are geraniums and lilies. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and lay out your chosen flowers and petals in one layer.

3. Add in oils and extras.

Adding in essential oils can really take your potpourri to the next level. Good essential oils for making potpourri include rose geranium oil, lavender oil, bergamot oil, lemon oil and honeysuckle oil. In addition to essential oils, you can add mix-ins like lemon slices, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, thyme, mint, etc. Not only will this add to the fragrance, they’ll make the whole potpourri mixture look even prettier. You can even add in things like dried berries, dried greenery, cedar bark, vanilla pods, seeds and pine cones.

4. Bake for two hours.

Leave the sheet in the oven for two hours and check the potpourri. The flowers and petals should feel brittle and hard. It’s important to make sure the ingredients are entirely dry — if there’s moisture left in them, they can cause the potpourri to mold.

Dry flowers and petals will feel brittle and hard — that’s how you know they’re ready! They should be dry in about two hours. When the potpourri is dry, take it out and let it cool down to room temperature.

5. Add in a fixative, more essential oils and mix the potpourri.

A “fixative” is a special potpourri ingredient that will make your fragrance last longer by keeping the scents in the mixture from evaporating. Fixatives are key if you want your potpourri to stay fragrant for weeks. Orris root (or orris root powder) has a sweet smell and commonly used as a potpourri fixative. Mix up your dried flowers and orris root powder, and add 10-15 more drops of essential oil to the mix.

Voila! Now you know exactly how to make potpourri. The potpourri mixture will last four to six weeks. To refresh the scent at any time, mix it up a bit and add in fresh drops of essential oil. You can place the potpourri in vases, bowls or jars and use it as sweet-smelling home decor, or you can add it to sachets and use it in drawers, cupboards or closets. Potpourri also makes a lovely gift.

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How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

Making your own potpourri is easy and if you use plants from your garden, it’s also memorable. Dying flowers can make the end of the growing season a depressing time of year. For gardeners in areas with four seasons, dying foliage is a sign that months without a garden are ahead.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to preserve the fruits and flowers of your garden during the coldest months. It’s nice to have some vegetables stored away and maybe some dried flowers to remind you of summer’s glory.

Even in warmer climates, it can be nice to bring something from your garden indoors, where you can enjoy it without noticing all the needed weeding. Potpourri allows you to bring not only some of the flowers, leaves, and pods inside with you, you can also bring some of the scents of the season.

Making Potpourri From the Garden

When choosing flowers for potpourri, look for those that hold onto their color and still look good when dry, like bachelor buttons, calendula, Echinops, geraniums, larkspur, lavender, peonies, pinks, roses, and yarrow.

Then add in interesting seed pods, like sweetgum and rose hips. Pinecones make a nice chunky addition. For more color, include berries such as beautyberry, holly, and pyracantha. You can include leaves, but many tend to fall apart quickly when dried. Look for thicker leaves, like leather-leaf viburnum and the lacy leaves of scented geraniums.

Don’t forget the edible garden. Bay and sage leaves dry very well. Dried citrus peel and dried apple slices also add fragrance and a nice texture

Homemade Potpourri Embellishments

It’s okay to add some extras to your homemade potpourri, too. Your local craft store probably has lots of potpourri standards like sandalwood chips and patchouli. Don’t hesitate to look for ingredients that will add some bulk to your potpourri mix.

Adding Scent to Potpourri

As woodsy as fresh potpourri can smell, it’s probably not enough of a fragrance for most people’s tastes and it won’t fill a room with its aroma. That’s where essential oils and fixatives come in.

A fixative is a substance that absorbs scented oils and hangs onto them for a long time. While it’s true that most of the ingredients in potpourri will absorb and hold scents, they can dissipate quickly. Some commonly used, long-lasting fixatives are orris root, from the Florentina iris, oakmoss, a lichen that grows on oak trees, and Vetiver root, a plant in the sweetgrass family. You can find most of these in craft stores and often in health food stores.

As for essential oils, the selection is vast and so is the quality. Be sure to check the fragrance of the oil before buying it. Some are overpowering and others only remotely resemble their main ingredient. A more expensive but better quality oil will pay for itself by not needing to be reapplied every week.

You can choose non-native flowers or you can stay with the theme of your own garden and choose floral scents, like lavender, rose or wisteria, or fruity scents, like citrus and apple.

The Easiest Method to Make Potpourri

No matter how you make your potpourri, do not use metal bowls or utensils. These can react with your ingredients and alter the fragrance. Glass, ceramic, and wood are the safest materials. Plastic is fine too, but the scent will linger in the container for weeks.

A quick and easy way to mix up a batch of potpourri is to add a few drops of essential oil to your fixative, cover, and set it aside for three to five days so that the scent is completely infused. Then add your dry ingredients and stir everything together. Cover again and allow it to steep for about one month. Check it occasionally to make sure the scent is stronger enough for you. If not, add more oil. The scent can weaken if you’ve added a lot of ingredients.

Using Your Potpourri

Of course, you could display your homegrown potpourri front and center in an attractive bowl on your coffee table. Another option is to make sachet bags and fill them with your fragrant concoctions. Even if you’re not handy with a needle, you can find small, net bags at the craft store. The nice thing about making sachets is that you can hang them in unexpected places, like on the showerhead, where the steam will enhance the scent. You can also tuck them in drawers, storage cabinets, pillowcases, linen closets, and anywhere else you want to be reminded of the flower garden.

Even when using the finest oils, the scent will eventually begin to disappear. You can always freshen your potpourri with a few more drops. Or, you can start a whole new batch with next season’s garden.

Roses for Potpourri

Making your own potpourri can be simple and uncomplicated. I created this basic potpourri without any assistance from reference material, books or otherwise.

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

The inspiration to make my own potpourri started after we ordered some beautiful roses from the ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine. I read the article about growing roses and was keen to buy the ‘super scented collection’ of five magnificent smelling, bare root roses.

Having grown roses years ago, I did miss the anticipation and delight of waiting for the many buds to blossom. The colours and smells can be amazing. Reaching the achievement of growing healthy looking roses is rewarding in itself, due to their fickle nature and intolerance to many elements.

Wet leaves encourage black spot. They can get fungal diseases and diseases that affect the roots and rose bush systemically. Flowers can be small and stunted, due to sudden extreme hot or cold weather. Leaves get eaten by insects and buds pecked at by birds. It can be hard to grow nice roses.

How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

At this point, I realised that the petals of spent flowers were also too good to waste. So I set about the idea of making my own inexpensive potpourri.

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How to choose fixatives for making potpourri

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.

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.