The term “potpourri” comes from the French and loosely translated means “spoiled pot.” It is a container in which fragrant parts of plants (including blossoms, roots, herbs, and spices) are kept to give the room a pleasant scent.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, potpourris were characteristic objects of the bourgeois household and improved the room fragrance due to the fragrant plant parts stored in the pot.


The so-called potpourri is usually a bulbous, vase-shaped pot mostly made of faience, porcelain, or earthenware and has a perforated lid and an inner lid. These vase-shaped pots were typically brightly painted and elaborately decorated at that time.


A mixture of different parts of plants such as herbs, roots, peel of citrus fruits and blossoms, and essential oils as an additive was used as content in the potpourri. If one used fresh flowers, it was preserved with the addition of salt. Otherwise, one added other dried parts of the plant. After some time, this mixture produced a fragrant but, at the same time, unsightly mass.

In the meantime, ready-made fragrance mixtures, often dry mixtures of plant parts that one refreshes with fragrances (e.g., essential oils), are commercially available for the potpourri. Not only did the potpourri filling change over the years, but the shape of the pot. Flat bowls, some with a perforated lid, were produced and used more often. Accordingly, the specific potpourri pot has largely disappeared; the term potpourri is now instead used for the fragrance mixture itself.