crafts

I Tried Making My Own DIY Fall Potpourri From Recycled Flowers And It Was Surprisingly Simple

by Kim Wong-Shing

fall potpourri

These days, many people love to scent their homes with fancy candles, essential oil diffusers, and incense. But let’s not forget the original, all-natural way to make your house smell like a home: potpourri.

Potpourri is an easy, quick way to give your home a fresh new scent. Growing up, my mom always had some type of potpourri placed at strategic points around our home. In wintertime, the mix usually featured pine cones and cinnamon. To this day, I always associate potpourri with fall. I do love a cozy fall-scented room, and I’m not a huge fan of scented candles or incense — they’re both too heavy and overwhelming for my tastes. So it recently occurred to me to go back to my roots and try the old-fashioned way.

Now my mom usually bought her potpourri at the store. A creature of habit, she generally bought the same few scents. The fall potpourri was usually brown, often recycled from previous years. It wasn’t all that exciting (sorry, mom).

To update this whole fall potpourri thing a little, I decided to try making my own recipe using a brighter flower and citrus mix along with essential oils.

If you plan ahead, you can make potpourri for little to no money by using scraps from your kitchen and house, like citrus peels and leftover bouquets, along with found objects from nature, like bark and pine cones.

Or if you’re impatient like me, you can just buy some fruit and flowers at the store.

I used a fall-colored bouquet, citrus fruits, spices, and essential oils to whip up a fall-scented potpourri in my oven. The result smells like orange, lavender, cinnamon, clove, and star anise — a colorful, updated twist on the classic potpourri I remember from childhood.

Here’s how I did it.

What You Need

what you need
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

To make this potpourri, I used:

  • Flowers
  • Citrus fruits
  • Whole spices
  • Essential oils

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

Not every potpourri uses flowers, but I think floral potpourri is the most beautiful. This is the perfect use for those old flowers that are starting to look a little sad on your dinner table. Instead of throwing them out, use them for potpourri!

potpourri flowers
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

I had one tiny, sad bouquet to recycle, but it wasn’t much to work with, so I bought another fall-colored bouquet at the grocery store.

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

The other ingredients — citrus, spices, and essential oils — help to add more scent. I used orange, lemon, cloves, star anise, lavender essential oil, and cinnamon essential oil.

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

You can also add any herbs of your choice, like lavender or rosemary or thyme, if you have them around. Other natural materials can also work, like pine cones or bark.

Preparing the Materials

prep potpourri
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

Potpourri materials must be dried so that they’ll last for a long time. Again, if you plan ahead, you can dry them out naturally, but if you’re impatient like me, you can do so in the oven.

With all my materials on hand, I preheated my oven to 200 degrees F.

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

I trimmed the flowers from their stems and placed them on a sheet pan. You can line the pan with either parchment paper or aluminum foil here.

Then I plucked most of the petals from their bases, leaving a couple of the flowers whole for decoration. I did my best to arrange the flowers in a single layer on the pan.

Then I added the citrus slices.

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And the cloves and star anise.

Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And I put the mixture in the oven.

You can leave the flowers in the oven for anywhere from one to two hours, or until the flowers are crispy but not burnt.

Preparing the Essential Oils

essential oil blend
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

While I waited for the flowers to dry out, I prepared my essential oil blend.

Essential oils naturally add a burst of scent, and they offer aromatherapeutic benefits, too. I had lavender essential oil and cinnamon essential oil on hand, both of which are great for fall. Other lovely options for fall include rosemary, ginger, cardamom, and fir needle.

bottle
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

I added 1 tablespoon of water to my spray bottle, then added 10 to 15 drops of essential oil. I played with the ratio of oils until I liked the scent.

When the flowers in the oven were about halfway done, I took them out, spritzed them with the oil blend, mixed them up, and put them back in.

Mixing It All Up

Mixing It All Up
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

When my flowers looked crispy, they were ready to be removed from the oven. Potpourri basically means “mixture,” and the last step is to mix it all up!

I sprayed the flowers again with the essential oil mixture, then tossed everything until it all smelled nice.

spray bottle
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings / Nurse - Visansaya Loisawai for LittleThings

Then I let the potpourri cool to room temperature.

Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches
Courtesy of Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

Finally, I placed the potpourri in a decorative bowl. You can also pour it into sachets, which make for lovely holiday gifts!

This potpourri smells like a garden in autumn. The lavender oil and flowers give it a floral scent, while the cinnamon oil, star anise, and cloves make it smell just like fall. The smell is pleasant, but subtle, not overpowering like candles or incense would be.

By using roughly 1.5 bouquets, I had enough potpourri to fill a small bowl. I put it in the parts of my home that need to smell yummy and autumn-y, just like my mom always did.