Potpourri is a tradition in many places. It is basically a collection of dried herbs and dried flowers, roots or leaves that gives off a pleasant smell inside commercial or residential buildings. It is placed in a decorative bowl, vase or a sachet made of some fabric. Fragrant herbs used to make potpourris have much power to tantalize our senses. A potpourri vase is a vase specifically designed to hold potpourri.
Though potpourris may consist of variety of fragrant herbs, the basic ingredient is carefully dried rose petals. Others include dried lemon balm, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, sandalwood chips, mint and few drops of distilled oil of roses or jasmine. All the herbs and dried flowers help in retaining the fragrant or spicy odors. Large number of plant species are used in potpourri. The mixture is allowed to ripen for a month or so, stored in a closed jar. When the jar is opened, an aroma of flowers, herbs and spices pervades the room.
Apart from potpourris, these dried substances have other uses too. Fragrant sprays of fresh lavender, thyme and mint were scattered on the stone floors of medieval houses to freshen the damp air. Sachets of dried lavender were thought to discourage moths and other insects. They also add refreshing fragrance to linen and clothes closets and drawers.
Very modern potpourris do not contain scented plant products but decoratively shaped dried plant material with strong natural and synthetic perfumes.