Dehydrating Flowers for Potpourri and Essential Oils

herbs and essential oils
When dehydrating flowers for potpourri, air-dry them to retain fragrance and mix the dried flowers with dried fruits, herbs, or spices to make potpourri. To make pure essential oil, steep the dried flowers in 120-proof vodka for seven days, then freeze the mixture to separate the oils from the vodka.

Can You Use Dried Flowers for Potpourri?

Yes – you can use dried flowers for potpourri. Unlike fresh flowers that wilt within days, drying flowers for potpourri will retain their fragrance for longer.

Plate filled with dried flower potpourri
Dried flower potpourri

How to Air Dry Flowers for Potpourri

Air drying is the best way to dry flowers for potpourri for the best scent. However, the process takes 1-4 weeks.

  1. Pick fresh flowers from your garden after the night dew has evaporated. Collect enough firm flowers since some will be lost during drying.
  2. Sort the flowers by type into bundles of 3-4 stems. Remove any foliage and leaves. Cut off the stems to a manageable length.
  3. Use rubber bands or twine to tie the bunches together near the base of the stems. Avoid injuring the stems, but ensure the knot is tight enough to keep the stems intact even after shrinking.
  4. Hang the bunches upside down in a warm, dry area, away from air conditioning and direct sunlight. Dry large flowers individually. The flowers will dry in 1-4 weeks. Check for crispiness or brittleness.
Bunches of lavender hanging upside down air-drying
Air-drying lavender

How to Dry Flowers in the Oven for Potpourri

Oven drying is the fastest and best option to dry the flowers in a few hours. However, it’s the worst method for preserving the color of the flowers. To make potpourri quickly in the oven, follow these steps:

  1. Gather fresh flowers of your choice.
  2. Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting.
  3. Prepare the flowers by removing the leaves and stems. Destemmed flowers make prettier potpourri.
  4. Spread the flower petals or buds face up in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
  5. Dehydrate the flowers at the lowest temperature for 1-2 hours until crispy or brittle. Check for dryness by cooling a few pieces to room temperature. If more drying is needed, continue in 30-minute increments.
  6. Remove the dried flowers and let them cool naturally to room temperature before using them or storing them.

How to Make Potpourri with Dried Flowers

There are endless creative ways to make potpourri using dried flowers. You can use a single type or several types of flowers for more variety in floral scents and color beauty. You can also incorporate other decorative or fragrant items into your dried flower potpourri. Some non-plant materials include shells, decorative rocks, and crystals.

Rocks and crystals and geodes
Rocks and crystals

Homemade Dried Flower Potpourri Recipe

  1. Put your dried flowers in a large bowl or paper bag.
  2. Add 5-10 drops of fresh essential oil or fragrance oil such as clove, orange, or lavender essential oil. Mix varying quantities of different essential oils based on the season or your mood for potpourri with scent variety.
  3. Toss thoroughly but gently to mix the flowers and oil.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of orris root powder and toss gently to mix further. Orris root powder functions as a fixative by preventing the evaporation of essential oils. Other fixatives are vanilla beans, vetiver root, myrrh gum, oakmoss, and angelica root.
  5. Cover the bowl or bag and let it sit overnight for the dried flowers to soak in the essential oils. Let the mixture sit uncovered for 1-4 weeks for a long-lasting fragrance.
  6. Pour the potpourri into a decorative bowl, mason jar, or sachet bag, depending on your preference.
  7. Place the potpourri away from direct sunlight for aromatherapy and decoration in your car, living room, or closet.
  8. As soon as the fragrance fades with time, add a few drops of essential oil and toss gently.
Plate with dried flowers and pink potpourri
Pink potpourri with dried flowers

Popular Potpourri Ingredients

Looking for inspiration for your homemade potpourri? Mix and match your favorite ingredients from this list to create the perfect potpourri!

Woman holding a large amount of dried, natural flowers and nuts for a potpourri mix
Natural dried potpourri

What are the Benefits of Drying Flowers for Potpourri?

You are assured of the following benefits when you dry flowers for your own potpourri:

  • Dried flowers have a rustic texture and appeal that looks great with most home decor.
  • Making potpourri is an excellent way to preserve flowers and extend their shelf life from a few days to 2-3 years.
  • Old potpourri flowers can be repurposed into scented room sprays.
  • Potpourri flowers require little maintenance; reactivate them with a few drops of essential oil every few months.
  • The flower arrangement and flowers can be customized when you make your own potpourri.

What is the Best Way to Dry Flowers for Making Essential Oil

Air drying is the best method to dry flowers when making homemade essential oil. Air drying preserves the essential oils within the petals. The heat from an oven or dehydrator will destroy some of these oils.

How to Make an Infused Oil with Dry Flowers

Making pure essential oils at home can be expensive and time-consuming. One of the methods for extracting the oils is steam distillation, which requires specialized equipment.

The easier and safer alternative is to infuse carrier oils with dried flowers. You can use carrier oils or oil bases such as sweet alm, rosehip, jojoba, and coconut oil. These oils may be used topically but cannot be ingested.

Here are step-by-step instructions to make an infused oil with dry flowers:

  1. Crumble the dried flowers into a glass jar. Pour your carrier oil into the jar before closing it tight.
  2. Place the filled jar in a warm place, such as a windowsill, for three weeks. Turn and shake the jar gently every day. For faster results, heat the filled jar in a warm water bath and simmer it gently for several hours.
  3. Test the fragrance and potency of the oil – if you wish for a stronger scent, allow it to sit longer. However, infused oils from dry flowers will be milder in fragrance and concentration than pure essential oil. Do not worry if the oil assumes the color of the flower; this may occur.
  4. Strain the oil and store it for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. You can add some vitamin E to act as an oxidant to prevent the oil from going rancid too soon.
Infused oil sitting amongst fresh flowers
Infused oil from flowers

How to Make Essential Oil Using Vodka Solvent

If you don’t have a home distillation kit but still want pure essential oil rather than infused carrier oil, here’s how to use vodka to extract the oils:

  1. Gather enough dried flowers. You’ll need several pounds to produce a small amount of essence. Some excellent options are dried rose petals, violets, hydrangeas, sage, calendula, or strawflower.
  2. Shred the dried flowers into a quart glass jar and pour enough 120-proof vodka to cover the flowers. Close the jar tightly with a lid and shake the jar thoroughly for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Allow the jar to sit undisturbed at room temperature in the dark corner of a cupboard. Take the jar out three times daily and shake it thoroughly for several minutes.
  4. Repeat the shaking routine for a week or until the flowers lose color.
  5. Wear thick rubber gloves and use a porcelain-coated strainer to sieve out the flower material from the vodka. Avoid spilling any liquid.
  6. Pour the flowers into a tight-weave cheesecloth and squeeze them with a gloved hand to drain all the vodka. It’s normal for the vodka to have a terrible odor.
  7. Use the same vodka to soak several batches of dried flowers, taking care not to spill any vodka during each straining. You might have to add a little fresh vodka to cover all the flowers.
  8. After soaking the last batch, strain out the flowers and pour the vodka into the same glass jar. Seal the jar tightly.
  9. Let the vodka sit undisturbed in the dark corner of the cupboard for 1 or 2 days to allow the vodka to separate from the residual flower material and extracted essential oils.
  10. Put the jar in the freezer and freeze it. The flower material and essential oils will solidify, but vodka won’t freeze in a typical freezer.
  11. Proceed with speed and care for the next steps so the oils won’t melt before you are done. Remove the jar from the freezer.
  12. Skim the residual flower material off the vodka and lay it on a cheesecloth inside a small glass bowl.
  13. Pour the vodka into another glass jar covered with loose cheesecloth such that the cloth dips inside the neck of the jar.
  14. Quickly pick out any frozen pieces and put them inside a small dark-colored bottle. The frozen pieces are essential oils. Store the extracted oils in a dark place out of direct sunlight until ready to use, and do not ingest the oil.
Several bottles of different types of infused floral oils
Extracted oils in bottles

How Do You Dry Flowers to Preserve the Scent?

The best way to dry flowers and retain as much scent as possible is to dry them in the air in a warm place out of direct sunlight. All drying methods lead to fragrance loss, but air drying captures the scent better than other methods.

How to Store Dried Flowers for Use in Potpourri and Essential Oils

After drying flowers for potpourri and essential oils, keep them at room temperature in airtight storage containers like Mason jars and glass jars.

Is It Safe to Use Flowers that Have Been Dried in a Microwave?

Using flowers dried in a microwave to make potpourri, DIY essential oils, or other products may be safe if done correctly. However, plant materials dried in a microwave tend to dry superficially. Semi-dried flowers may cause molding over time. Secondly, dehydrating plant material in the microwave poses a fire risk, particularly when using paper towels. You must monitor the process actively, drying the material in increments of 30 seconds only.

Alex Maina

Preserving food has become a meeting point for Alex's passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. Having grown up on a farm with cows, goats, chickens, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Alex knows the importance of preserving food for leaner times. He spends his time drying and canning foods, trying new recipes, and writing for Dehydrated Cookbook.

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