Make your own potpourri

Q. Can I make homemade potpourri with items from my garden, even if I don’t grow herbs?

Jill from Canfield

A. Yes. Herbs are not an essential component, but will help with aromas. You can purchase some dried flowers and essential oils, but you also can use plant materials from bark to berries from your own shrubs and trees. Here are details from Sheila Cubick, Extension master gardener volunteer and volunteer naturalist:

The use of flowers to brighten and scent our homes is a popular and old tradition. After our gardens fade, we can still enjoy their scents in the form of potpourri, a collection of flowers, barks, berries, essential oil and fixatives placed in a container. It makes a lovely holiday decoration for your home or gift for family and friends.

Making it is quite simple and easy to do at home. Ideally, flowers, bark and berries have been collected and dried throughout the growing season. Although many flowers dried at their peak retain their scent for a long time, most potpourri uses a fixative like orris root to make it last longer. To create the strongest and most lasting smelling potpourris, essential oils are added.

The best potpourri uses flowers that have been picked at their peak, but faded flowers can also be used to increase the volume of the mix. Add some dried cones, bark, or small bright flowers plus essential oil and you will have lovely potpourri.

I have tried many recipes from gardening and herb books, but my most successful mixtures were spontaneous creations using ingredients I had in the house. My favorite combined dried lavender flowers mixed with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and ground cinnamon. It was visually interesting with a long-lasting scent that is still pungent 15 years later!

Experiment on your own or follow a simple recipe like those from here: After mixing the ingredients together, place in a jar, cover tightly, and let the mixture cure four to six weeks, shaking weekly. Be creative and enjoy the process of creating homemade natural gifts.

Eric Barrett is OSU Ext. educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hot line at 330-533-5538 from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays to submit your questions.

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