A History of Potpourri [Part 1 of 7]

Potpourri has been around since the beginning, satisfying our inner desire to decorate and make our shelter “home.” Join The Herb Lady on an adventure through time, and tune in weekly for the new series “A History of Potpourri.”

Painting of a woman making potpourri, 1867

Painting of a woman making potpourri, 1867

“Potpourri,” from the French word for “rotten pot“ (“pot-” meaning “pot” and  “-pourri“ meaning “rotten“), is commonly used to describe “a collection of dried flower petals, leaves, herbs, and spices that is used to scent the air.” It was common practice for the French in the early 17th century to use these mixtures to scent their homes.  


Surely they were not the first to use botanicals to scent their dwellings, so before we get to specifics about France and its rotten pots, let‘s explore the use of dried flowers and herb mixtures to scent interiors throughout the ages.  


In the coming weeks, these posts will cover an elaborate timeline of potpourri throughout history. Check back next week, starting right at the beginning with “Scenting the Cave.”