I love the aromatic scents of potpourri, but not necessarily the cost or the particular fragrance of packaged potpourri. No matter, creating a potpourri herb garden is a relatively easy and fulfilling undertaking.
What is a Potpourri Garden?
A natural blend of fragrant herbs and flowers combined with spices, fixatives and essential oils are the basic components of potpourri. Prior to today’s atomized air fresheners, potpourri was a natural method of scenting the air. As they say, “everything old is new again” and homemade potpourri concoctions are enjoying a resurgence, popular not only for the ability to customize one’s own fragrance, but with the added benefits of a more natural and environmentally friendly mix at a fraction of the cost.
Popular Potpourri Garden Plants
Potpourri garden plants most often include roses, the basis for most potpourri blends. If you are shy on space or are cultivating potpourri garden plants on a lanai or small deck, a climbing rose is a great option. Highly fragrant varietals are recommended for cultivation and any color of the rainbow apart from white, which doesn’t tend to add much punch to the potpourri mix.
As lavender maintains its vibrant scent and texture when dried, it is also one of the most popular foundations of potpourri. Lavender may also be used in lieu of rose or combined if you are averse to the scent of roses.
A mix of additional annual and perennial flowers can be incorporated when creating a potpourri herb garden such as:
Texture, along with aroma and color, are integral when choosing plants for the potpourri garden. Choose flowers that dry well, while maintaining their color.
Many herbs are included in the potpourri olio for their essential oils. These may include:
Some herbs may be chosen for their interesting flowers or stalks, such as Tuscan Blue rosemary with its vibrant blue blossoms. The flowers of sage, tansy and borage dry well for use in the potpourri mix. Curry, fennel and patchouli are all other good choices for inclusion in the potpourri herb garden. Do a little bit of research on each of your choices to ensure that they fit your garden profile (i.e. will they outgrow the space available or do they grow rampantly without control?).
The seed heads and prickly pods of many plants shouldn’t be forgotten. They add a wonderful texture and shape to the potpourri mix.
Care of Potpourri Gardens
Most of the herbs used in a potpourri garden are Mediterranean in origin and fairly easy to grow, preferring sun, well-draining soil and a moderate amount of watering. Many of the annuals incorporated in the potpourri garden are of similar ilk with a slightly more frequent need for fertilization. Roses may require a bit more work to tease out perfect blooms, but are well worth the effort.
Once your potpourri garden plants have established themselves, the ideal time to harvest is on a dry day; a couple of days after a rainfall. Allow a few hours to lapse once the sun has come up to let the dew dry but before the sun dries the essential oils.
Once harvested, most recipes call for drying the flowers and herbs. There are a multitude of methods for drying, and many books or online sources are available where you can learn additional tips and combinations for a homemade potpourri that is all your own.