Homes and Property

Make those flowers last

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Flowers can be wrapped in papers. 

By Sarah Tumwebaze

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  02:00

When they are in full bloom, flowers are a sight to behold. They have a way of brightening the room with their colour, and lending it a scent with their fragrance. However, they don’t stay fresh too long and most times, the next alternative is to throw them away. But there are other ways you can use still make them part of the decor at home.

When you either buy or receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers, you wish for it to stay that way. But sadly, these beautiful blooms stay fresh for at most two days.
After that, they start changing colour. The petals start bending and falling off, they lose their scent and in a week, they are dry. So the only option you have is to throw them away.
However, with the ever changing world of decoration, you no longer have to get rid of them because they can still be used to decorate your house. Here is how you can use them.

The General Manager of Harver Florists along Bombo Road, Sheila Kibuukamusoke, says you can also preserve your withered flowers by tying them upside down on a string and placing on the shade/balcony.

Kibuukamusoke says you remove the flowers from the oasis (the green sponge-like piece in which most florists place the flowers) when they are still fresh, bind them together around the stalk with either an ordinary string or a coloured one and hang them upside down on the balcony. But ensure that they are not under the sun.

She explains: “You keep them upside down so that the petals do not bend. After they have dried up, you spray them with any perfume of your choice and either leave them where they are or hang them in the sitting room on the curtain box. You can also hang them on the curtain beams in the kitchen to keep it well scented.”

Alternatively, the general manager says you can remove the petals from the flower stalks when they are still fresh, put them in a basket and put them on the balcony to dry. “After they have dried up, spray them with perfume and put them anywhere in the house.”


Don’t let the fancy name fool you into thinking this is a hard thing to pull off. The dictionary describes potpourri as a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room.
Jennifer Wanyoto, a homemaker in Mukono shares how she makes the potpourri in the different rooms of her home.

What you need
“There are different types of potpourri but I usually make the dry kind since it lasts longer. For the ingredients, I use flowers of course and different other things, each with its own function. I already have most of them around the house and those that I don’t are easy to come by. I use:

• Petals. You can separate the petals or leave them on the bud. I’ve found that fully blossomed roses and hibiscus look better in potpourri when the petals are separated while those that are not in full bloom look better when used with the bud (the green part) still attached. The last part also applies to flowers with small petals like white and pink mums.

• Fixatives. This is the technical term for what you use to strengthen the petals. The most commonly used is orris root, which you can buy from any florist. However, you can also use the peels of fruits like oranges and tangerines. That’s what I use since I read about it years ago and discovered it works just as well as the orris. The trick is to make sure you remove any pulp and that white part from the inside since these attract mold.
• Herbs and spices. These are not a must but they are a good way to add a nice scent to the potpourri, depending on where you plant put it. For instance, I use rosemary herbs in the potpourri I plan to put in the kitchen and cumin seeds for the one I place in the bathrooms, so use whatever herb or spices you like.
• Woods or tree barks with a fragrance. These are also optional but they have two pluses. One is their scent and the other is that they are decorative and add a nice blend to the petals. I use cinnamon bark, which is available in many spice shops and markets. I also use those fragrant sticks we use to light charcoal stoves.
• Scented oils. I buy these from beauty shops. There are a variety of oils to choose from. Personally, I love lavender, vanilla, sandalwood and rosewater.
• Other decorative items. These don’t have to be natural. You just add any cute items to the potpourri. I like to add artificial nuts and pine cones that I bought at a shop that sells decorations. Other people add shells or rocks to the mix.

“When you have all the ingredients, then you can start making potpurri:
i) Dry the petals, orange peels and the herbs under the sun. If you have fresh orris roots, dry these too. You know they are dry enough when they are not soft to the touch. You dry them to avoid mold.

ii) Next, mix the spices and fixative. In my case, I mix three tablespoons each of ginger or whatever other nice smelling ground spice is in my kitchen. The times I have used orris root powder, I put two tablespoons to this mixture.
I don’t really measure the peels I use but I don’t use a lot. Say if I take peels from one orange, I use less than half of them. To this mixture, I add a few drops of the scented oil. Again, I don’t really measure I just add the drops depending on how strong I want the potpourri’s scent to be. Mix these well so that everything is evenly distributed.

Add this mixture to the dry petals, herbs, bark and all the other dry ingredients. As you mix these, make sure your hands are dry so that you don’t add any moisture to the potpourri.
iii) Place everything in a watertight container and cover it. Keep the container in a dark, dry place for a month or two, depending on how much potpourri you are making. In the first few days, shake the container. Potpourri is like wine, the longer you keep it in the container, the stronger it’s scent will be.
iv) When it’s ready, display the potpourri in a small basket or bowl. Arrange in whatever way is pleasing to the eye. I also put some in those little jewellery bags with draw strings and hang them in the windows.

These also come in handy if you have small children who are likely to pick the potpourri from open bowls or baskets. When placing the potpourri around the room, look for spaces where the wind can lightly blow on it and get the scent into the room.
“The process may seem long but it is worth it since you dictate how you want it to smell unlike the air fresheners we buy from supermarkets. And they are a pretty addition to the decor,” Wanyoto concludes.

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