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9 Best Flowers and Herbs for Pomanders

I love my garden's beauty and aroma, which I capture in pomanders. These are my favorite flowers and herbs to use for this purpose.

The golden apple pomander

The golden apple pomander

What Is a Pomander?

The pomander is a general term for any container that holds fragrant blossoms, herbs, spices, oils and resins. The term includes any aromatic plant or material intended to impart scent. Hence a clutch of lavender tied with string and hung in a room would satisfy the definition.

Traditionally the pomander was a cloth bag that was worn on the person as a form of perfume to hide unpleasant odours, or to protect one from evil spirits and disease. They were worn as an accessory at social gatherings and even today serve as decorative additions at weddings.

Pomanders have developed into all shapes and sizes and the containers might be made of gold, silver and expensive china. Nowadays it is generally around the home that we seek to have pleasurable aromas.

Typically we might create different aromas for individual rooms using pomander cushions, door stops, scatter bags, and vases. We may place these in bedding, wardrobes or as ornamental features.

My Favorite Pomander Herbs and Flowers

  1. Lemon balm
  2. Common wormwood
  3. Jasmine
  4. Lad's love
  5. Eucalyptus
  6. Rose
  7. Lavender
  8. Hops
  9. Ylang-ylang

Replenish in the Autumn

Every autumn I refill 10 or more decorative china pomanders with an individual herb or blossom and place them about the house. Apart from creating a pleasant ambiance in each room, these little receptacles can be held to the nose for an uplifting intake of aromatherapy.

It can make housework an enjoyable experience with each room rewarding you for your attention. One of the advantages of using refillable china shapes is that if after a few weeks the fragrance begins to fade; it is easy to add a few drops of essential oil in order to replenish it.

Collection of pomanders

Collection of pomanders

Lemon balm has a light green tender leaf

Lemon balm has a light green tender leaf

1. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, is a delicate leaved plant that is also known as balm mint. Like other mints, it can easily spread and become invasive, so it is best grown in pots or in restricted spaces. The leaves are aromatic and if rubbed between the fingers impart a strong scent of sweet lemon. It is used to flavour fruits, salads, cordials, ice-cream, herbal tea, and is included in many fish recipes.

I keep my lemon balm pomander in the kitchen, and it helps to eliminate cooking odours. It is lovely to walk into the kitchen in the morning and be met with the zest of lemon. Both the dried flowers and the essential oil are economic to produce, and are therefore not expensive to purchase.

It is said that lemon balm tea is good for the digestion, a natural detox, calms the nervous system, and sharpens brain activity. The chemical compounds continue to be investigated as possibly beneficial in the treatment of dementia.

The foliage of common wormwood is a soft silvery green

The foliage of common wormwood is a soft silvery green

2. Common Wormwood

This plant produces a powerful pungent odour that stimulates the nasal receptors. Known as Artemisia absinthium or common wormwood, it contains the compound thujone which is used in the manufacture of perfume.

Growing wild in Europe in areas with arid soil, it is favoured as a silvery foliage perennial border plant in gardens. Due to its bitter taste it is used to flavour the alcoholic spirit drink absinthe as well as vermouths and as a medicine in specialized elixirs. Wormwood can be purchased as a dried leaf or as a plant from most garden centres.

Jasmine is known as the flower of the night

Jasmine is known as the flower of the night

3. Jasmine

Jasmine, or Jasminum, is a shrub that produces highly fragrant flowers which are used as a beverage and in perfumery. Generally the delicate flowers open at night and are hand-picked for drying, a labour intensive and expensive method. This is also true in the extraction of the essential oil whereby huge quantities of flowers are required. Jasmine aroma is said to be a natural sedative.

The flowers are worn in garlands at wedding ceremonies mostly in India and Indonesia where it is the national flower as it is in Pakistan and the Philippines. This tradition has spread to the Western hemisphere where the dried and fresh flowers have become popular.

The foliage of lad's love is a light feathery green

The foliage of lad's love is a light feathery green

4. Lad's Love

This plant has a similar aroma to the common wormwood, but is sweeter and spicier. Known as Artemisia abrotanum or lad's love and southernwood, it grows across Europe preferring dry sunny conditions, and is grown as a standalone garden plant. Traditionally, fronds of the plant were hung in doorways, windows and with clothes in wardrobes to deter insects’ flies and moths from entering.

The leaves are also used in beverages and meat dishes. Historically, considered a masculine scent, men would pin sprigs of lad's love onto their shirts to indicate they were seeking romance. Viewed as an aphrodisiac, young men would also add this herb to a lady's bouquet.

5. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus, or Eucalyptus macrocarpa, is an evergreen tree from which the leaves provide the essential oil. The aroma is best described as exhilarating. It reminds me of the scent of sweet heather (Erica) mixed with bruised pine needles. The oil is used in vapor rubs, cough medicines and decongestants, as well as perfumes, and soap.

Hybrid rose "Alec's Red"

Hybrid rose "Alec's Red"

6. Rose

Roses come in all shapes size and colours, but not all have scent. The Alec’s Red shown in the photo above is a hybrid rose variety that is highly fragrant.

Roses are grown primarily for display and for the cut flowers provided by florists. The essential oil is used in perfumes. It requires between two and three thousand roses to produce one gram of oil which puts it beyond most people’s budget. Imagine all that fragrance packed into a few drops of oil.

Hence all we need are the rose petals to enjoy their wonderful scent. Rose petals are edible and are used to flavor drinks, desserts, and decorate food. Traditionally the petals are thrown as confetti at weddings. The aroma is said to relief stress and anxiety. I keep a pomander of dried rose petals on my bedside table.

7. Lavender

A herbalist once told me that if you have a garden of lavender and chamomile you have a living medicine chest that will care for your mind and body. Chamomile is not suitable for pomanders, but I recommend it in other applications for your general well-being.

Lavender, or Lavandula, is known for its heady sweet aroma and I believe that only frankincense can equal this humble gift of nature. It likes a sunny position and is grown as a garden scented plant, commercially as a Bee blossom for honey production and for the extraction of its highly aromatic oil which is used in perfumes and cosmetics.

The flowers are also used in bakery, confectionery, and herbal infusions. Lavender essential oil contains a number of complex components that aid its use as an insect repellent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. The aroma is said to relax and alleviate stress and anxiety, and aid the onset of sleep.

The female flower cone of the hop

The female flower cone of the hop

8. Hops

Hops, or Humulus lupulus, are the seed cones of the female flower of hops. They are grown primarily for the production of beer to which they add the “bite” to the flavor. Hops are known to have soporific qualities and are also used to reduce anxiety. Dried hops are often sold ready-packed into sleep cushions and are often mixed with lavender. I annually buy a large bag and empty the contents into a colorful cushion cover and hang it on a bedroom wall.

Also known as the perfume tree

Also known as the perfume tree

9. Ylang-Ylang

The ylang-ylang, or Cananga odorata, is an evergreen tropical tree that produces highly aromatic flowers from which the essential oil is extracted. I describe the scent as exotic. Traditionally the dried flowers are strewn upon sheets and bedding. It is used in perfumery, and said to lower blood pressure as well as being an aphrodisiac. I keep this pomander in the top drawer and bring it out for special occasions

Potpourri Tips

Enjoy Your Pomanders!

I hope my favourite scented fillers have inspired you to try them either individually or to create your own potpourri.

© 2014 Colleen Swan

I welcome your comments, and would love to know what is your favorite aroma?

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on September 03, 2015:

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan, Thank you for your input; we enjoy growing different kinds of herbs and spices. While not aromatic, chives from our garden do wonders for an ordinary tossed salad. Happy harvesting. Colleen

Claudia Mitchell on September 03, 2015:

This is a really interesting hub Colleen. I love all of the different plants and will definitely plant some of these next year.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on February 19, 2015:

Hi Kristen. Glad you found this of interest. I was out in the garden this morning, and the first signs of spring are here, buds and bulbs waiting to burst into life. Looking forward to the display and aromas to come soon.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 19, 2015:

Great hub, Colleen. I never heard of pomanders. I guess it's different than potpourri that I know of in it is packets. Great info!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 14, 2014:

Thank you Larry for your kind words. I had assumed that the pomander was an everyday word, but other people have since said it was new to them. When I look at the stats for the hub I realize that Hubpages gets visits from far away locations.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 14, 2014:

When you can write about something a reader has never heard of and make it interesting, you are a good writer.

Before this article I had never even heard of a pomander, but your definition and description of fragrant plants and how they can be used with the pomander was expertly executed and had my attention throughout.

Bravo!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 13, 2014:

Thank you for the congrats, it is that time of year to collect tomorrows aromas,. I am happy that it has inspired you and I hope many more will decide to use these flowers and herbs around the home.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 13, 2014:

Thanks for looking in. That's great that you have found something new from this article, maybe a new hobby.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 13, 2014:

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day accolade. I share your love of eucalyptus and lavender. Yes, you have inspired me. Thank you.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on October 13, 2014:

Thank you I've never heard of this. I know of lots of other uses I can use these for. Nice

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thank you Suzette for your congratulations. The china pomanders are a small part of my collection. I like them because they are easily topped up with a few drops of essential oil. They are also a colorful addition in any room.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thank you Poetry Man. Yes I love the aromas. The postman said he loves my door opening when he has a parcel to deliver. Thanks for looking in.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 12, 2014:

Congratulations on HOTD! This is very interesting and informative. I have heard the word pomander before but never really knew what it was. The china pomanders you have pictured are so pretty and certainly would enhance a room in the house. I love lavender and chamomile and I can attest to their great, healthy and well-being properties. I just love the fragrance of Lavender and chamomile is great for settling an upset stomach. Thanks for sharing you knowledge of these herbs and pomanders.

poetryman6969 on October 12, 2014:

I'll bet your house smells real nice!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thanks for the tip Paynes. I will think on this for the spring plan.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thank you Heidi for the Congrats, hope you find some of the information fruitful.

PaynesGrey on October 12, 2014:

I grow my Patchouli in my conservatory, and put it outside for the summer months.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 12, 2014:

Gorgeous photos and great tips for using these amazing aromas in the home. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thank you for your comment. It's fun to grow your own, especially if you have a sunny position or even a windowsill to put pots on. I love Patchouli, but I cannot grow it in my garden, so I use the essential oil instead. it is Wonderful.

PaynesGrey on October 12, 2014:

Lovely selection of plants. I grow many aromatic herbs, the oily ones produce the most scent generally. My favourite is Patchouli.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 12, 2014:

Thank you for looking in. I agree the real thing is best and often cheaper to purchase. I don't like those chemical ones that you plug into the electric socket.

mySuccess8 on October 12, 2014:

Wonderful selection and variety of natural aromas produced from flowers, herbs and plants! These are healthy alternatives to the sometimes toxic artificially-scented fragrances formulated using chemicals. Congrats on HotD!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 06, 2014:

Thank you Rebecca; It's nice to know people are motivated to seek unusual things. I sometimes think that computer culture has made us forget basic natural pleasures.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 06, 2014:

Nicely done! I have never had a pomander, and this makes me want one. Thanks for sharing!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 03, 2014:

Thank you Gilbert. I have tried several floral herbal teas. It is more often the medicinal claims that attract me rather than the flavors. I inevitable reach for the coffee jar .

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on October 03, 2014:

The pomanders and herbal flowers combine a beautiful combination of art and sweet fragrances. I enjoy some of the herbs you've listed as tea concoctions. Beautiful photos, Colleen!

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 02, 2014:

Thank you Manatita for your kind words. Glad you like the photos.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 02, 2014:

Thank you Nadine. That must be a luxury, having lavender growing wild. To cold here in the North of England. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on October 02, 2014:

What a great post on a very enjoyable topic. I use Lavander since that grow like a weed on our property.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on October 02, 2014:

What a great post on a very enjoyable topic. I use Lavander since that grow like a weed on our property.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 02, 2014:

Thank you Thomas, I am glad this article evoked childhood memories. Aromatic memories can prove extremely powerful and long-lasting.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 02, 2014:

Thank you DDE, glad you enjoyed the variety of flowers and their properties. I enjoyed writing this hub.

Thomas Swan from New Zealand on October 02, 2014:

This article is brilliant, and I mean that for more than our namesake :) Voted up, beautiful, and shared.

The wealth of information, presentation, and images are excellent. My grandparents used to grow lavender in their garden, and the aroma was powerful, yet wonderful. I think the smell will always remind me of my youth. Though, the plants did attract a huge quantity of bees that made me slightly terrified at times!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 02, 2014:

Beautiful photos.! I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting hub.

Colleen Swan (author) from County Durham on October 02, 2014:

Thank you DJ for looking in. It was fun to turn my autumn ritual into a hub. With the late summer here in the UK I am still able to cut fresh roses from the garden. I don't recollect the store, I've been in the UK along time.

DJ Anderson on October 01, 2014:

Colleen, what a delightful hub! I have moved away from sachets and

potpourri over the last few years. The pomander reminded me that I once owned a few ceramic ones. Have lost track of them over the years.

Do you remember the store, "Crabtree & Evelyn"? I loved that store, but I think they have gone out of business. 'Savannah Gardens' was my favorite fragrance. Later I went through a Moroccan phase with oils and candles from health food stores. I do have some exotic oil heaters. You helped to bring back some lovely memories.

Allen Smith is always full of great ideas. He does make it look so simple.

Thank you for this informative hub.

DJ.

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