Fragrant Herbs in the Home

Marlene Spinosa
Adams County Master Gardener

Now that the colder weather is here and we are inside, the air in our home can get stale. In the winter months, I use fragrant herbs in potpourris, decorations, herb cushions, scented sachets, potholders, scented hangers, tea cozies, pomanders and more to freshen the air. A potpourri is a welcome addition to any room and can be made by combining lavender or rose petals, scented leaves such as lemon balm or rosemary, allspice and orris root powder as a fixative.

Orris root is a vegetable fixative that smells like sweet violet;it works to absorb and hold the scents. Use 1 tablespoon per cup of ingredients, mix together in a container with a closed lid and allow about two weeks maturing. You can also preserve whole flowers by placing them in a container and completely covering them with orris root powder or another fixative. When you receive or purchase floral arrangements and bouquets, remember to save and dry flowers to use later in potpourris. Once they are dried, place them in a bowl or jar with or without a lid (using a pierced lid will aid in sustaining floral/herbal scent). Potpourri can last longer if you add a few drops of essential oils which can be purchased at craft stores and many country gift shoppes. The library or internet are good sources for various recipes for potpourris.

A lovely wreath or garland of herbs and flowers adds a decorative fragrant note to any dcor. Ribbon tied bunches of herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme are beautiful in small spaces in the kitchen, guest room or bathroom. Making sachets for your home use or for gifts is an easy and effective way to add fragrance to closets, drawers, furniture, bookcases and more. Create small bags or pillows using thin cotton or lightweight fabrics that can be sewn together. Various shapes can be used and filled with flower petals or lavender for women and citrus scents such as lemon thyme, mint or pine for men. I often make drawer and closet sachets for seasonal gifts in spring, summer, fall and winter using fabric scraps I save from quilting projects. Sofa sachets provide welcome fragrance in winter and are made by sewing small flat squares or rectangles together then filling them with herbs. Place these sachets on the sides of sofa and chair cushions. The fragrance will be released when people sit on your furniture.

Keep your books smelling great and free of bugs by placing small sachets filled with wormwood, santolina, cinnamon, gloves and lavender on your home library shelves. Make a pocket on your tea cozy and fill with rose petals, lavender or other herbs. Liven up the fireplace by adding cuttings and prunings from cedar, pine, cherry, apple, lilac, lavender and juniper.

You can purchase scented candles or buy a kit to create your own candles and add small amounts of your favorite herbs or a drop or two of essential oil right before pouring the wax into the mold. Herbs can be added to the outer surface of candles by holding the candle in hot water for a few seconds to soften the outside then rolling it over dried herbs. A simple padded hanger can be created with muslin and herbs and covered with ribbon to add fragrance to your closet. Adding small sachets of lavender to your bed will help you sleep better.

Tying and hanging herbs like lemon verbena, mint, bay leaves, tansy or rosemary in the kitchen freshens the air and deters flies. You can sew scented potholders or buy them in country craft stores. Pomanders can be made by pressing cloves into oranges, making holes in the orange skin by first using a knitting or sewing needle. The whole orange can be covered with the cloves or you can create a design with them. Mix cinnamon and orris root powder together and roll the orange in it, then allow to dry and shrink. Tie a ribbon around the orange and hang up or set in a bowl to release scent.

Using herbs to film your home with pleasant scents has been used for centuries. Try some of these suggestions to add some fragrance to your home during the winter months!

Read other articles by Marlene Spinosa