Homemade Potpourri 101: {How-To}

There are three components of potpourri:


  • These do the best job of absorbing the different fragrances so things keep smelling nice for a longer period of time. Fixatives are things like oak moss and orris root.


  • Essential oils, fragrance oils. These are applied to the Fixatives so they’ll retain the fragrance for a longer period of time. When the batch needs to be freshened up because its losing its smell, just add more Fragrance to the Fixatives.


  • The dried flowers, herbs, leaves, wood shavings, wood chips and spices (both fragrant and non-fragrant).
  • If you’re using fresh items that need to be dried first, plan on four times the amount that you are needing. For example: if you want 1 cup of final product, prepare 4 cups of fresh items to be dried to account for the shrinkage.

Tools Needed To Make Your Own:

  • Use plastic, wood, ceramic or glass bowls and plastic or wooden spoons when preparing.
  • Do not use metal items.
  • A mortar and pestle will also come in handy when crushing the items.
  • If recipe calls for salt, use Kosher salt because it has no additives.

How To Store:

  • Seal in a jar, crock, airtight container or ziploc baggies and store in a cool, dark place until it’s ready to use.
  • For freshly made mix, allow to cure for about six weeks before using. The longer it’s allowed to cure, the stronger and longer lasting the fragrance will be. Shake the container or bag regularly during this stage to blend the ingredients (about every other day).

Types To Make


  • Is made by combining dried ingredients in an airtight container and allowing to cure over time.


  • Made with partially dried flowers, leaves and herbs that are layered with salt (use Kosher salt).
  • It should be made in a large crock or bowl that is made airtight by covering with a tight fitting lid.
  • Layer ingredients (petals, leaves, etc.) about 2″, then salt about 1/8″.
  • Place a plate on the top layer to cover and weigh down the ingredients. Place a weight on top of the plate with something heavy (like a bowl or rock).
  • Cover the container so it’s airtight.
  • Stir daily and allow to ferment for 14 days.
  • After 14 days, stir the mixture well then re-seal tightly.
  • Allow the mix to “brew” untouched for four weeks. Do not peek or allow any air in the crock. After four weeks it can be removed from the crock and used.

Ingredient Ideas

Flowers & Filler Suggestions:


  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary


  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Anise

Dried Fruits:

  • Orange peels
  • Lemon peels
  • Apple slices


  • Orris root
  • Oak moss
  • Calamus root
  • Sandalwood chips
  • Wood shavings
  • Tonka beans
  • Ground cinnamon

General Rule of Thumb For Ratio:

  • 2 parts dried flowers, 1 part dried herbs and leaves, .5 part spices, Fixative (1 TBS per 1 cup dried flowers), Fragrance (2 drops per 1 TBS of Fixative). This isn’t a hard and fast rule, mix as you prefer.

How Do You Pronounce It?

  • Some say “Pot–Poor–EE” but it’s actually “Poe–Poo–Ree” and it’s a french word that means “Rotten Pot” (if you try the Moist Method, you’ll know why rotten pot applies).

Here’s a simple Rose Jar project that you can make using rose leaves…

Gather leaves when dry. Spread out in a dark room on paper and sprinkle with salt. When thoroughly dry, put 1 qt. petals in a pan and put this mixture over them:

  • 1 tsp. oil of cloves
  • 1 tsp. cassia buds
  • 1 tsp. lavender
  • 1 Tbls. Orris root, powdered
  • 1 oz. of any good perfume (not Lily of the Valley)

Keep in covered jar. When you wish to use it, shake well and leave cover off. You can add a few Rose Geranium leaves or dried mint leaves.

Source: These directions are from the Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, July, 1952

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    • Glenda

    Love this idea. Would make a great gift for any occasion. Thanks!

    • Thymedremr

    I just want to say thank you. My daughter has been wanting to make potpourri and your recipe guide lines are easy to follow. Now she will be able to make some up for christmas.

    • Whitney

    I really want to try this…and maybe this is a dumb question but where do I buy dried flowers?? I have tried flower shops and nursery’s. I know Michaels or craft stores have them, but haven’t those all been sprayed with some sort of chemical and wouldn’t be good for this? I know I can dry my own but that would be expensive and take so long. Please any suggestions?

      • Lori

      I have the same question! I would enjoy trying to make potpourri for Christmas presents, but am a little stuck without having many resources for flowers, unless like noted above, I spend a bundle. Thank you : )

        • Annette

        Look online for places like Herbco, Bulk Apothecary and Frontier (For dried flowers and Orris Root.

    • Nicole

    Most floral stores will give you the roses that are ready to be discarded, but of course, they are not organically grown. So plant your own rose tree. They are easy to grow either in any soil type or in a container on a patio.

    • Jessica

    might seem silly but why not lilly of the valley?

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