Peonies are not only beautiful, they also have a lovely fragrance. Depending on the specific species and variety, the aroma ranges from a sweet rose-like scent to the light, refreshing smell of lemons, oranges, or other citrus fruits. The heady aroma can be captured for a few days and brought into your home in the form of cut flowers, but why not keep the smell alive for a longer period? By making potpourri from your peonies, you can do just that!
Making potpourri from your own peonies is not difficult. You’ll just need a little patience and diligence. When you’re done, you’ll have some wonderful custom-made potpourri to place around your home or to give to friends and family members.
First, you’ll need to collect your peony petals. Choose flowers that are at their full maturity, but don’t wait until they’ve started wilting or turning brown. Collect about one gallon of petals. Spread them out on a drying screen and place them in an area with low humidity and good air circulation. If you don’t have enough peony petals, you can add petals from roses, tulips, or other flowers. Another nice addition is dried peels of lemons, oranges, tangerines, or limes. Just make sure the petals are in a single layer on the screen so that they’ll dry properly. Allow the petals to dry until they’re crisp. This might take two weeks. Discard any petals that have turned brown.
When your petals are completely dry, place them in a one-gallon jar that has a lid. A clean, dry pickle jar with a screw-on lid works well. Sprinkle the petals with dried powdered orris root, a fixative that will help hold your potpourri’s scent. You can find this product at a craft store or at most drug stores. You’ll need about one tablespoon of orris root for every quart of dried petals.
Once your dried petals are in the jar and the orris root has been added, you’ll need to add peony essence oil. You can find this product at craft supply stores. For each quart of petals you have, use about ten drops of the oil. Use an eye dropper to add the oil, one drop at a time. Gently stir the petals after each drop of peony oil is added to ensure that the orris root powder and the oil are well distributed. Be careful not to crush the petals as your stir.
When you’re done, place the lid tightly on the jar and allow it to “cure” for at least four weeks before opening the jar. This will intensify the aroma and give your potpourri a longer life.
When the potpourri has cured, you can remove it from the jar. Place it in smaller decorative jars, little baskets, clear vases, bowls, or sachet pouches. Homemade potpourri makes great gifts, and the colors can be designed to reflect the seasons and specific holidays, depending on the color of the flowers used.