How To Make Orris Root Powder

orris root powder

Making your own orris root powder to use as a fixative in potpourri or other crafts is easier than you might think. Orris powder is made from the rhizome of the Iris x germanica var florentina, often referred to as orris iris. The pale lavender flowers appear almost white.

Use a sharp knife to cut through the orris root rhizomes.

Once this iris is established, the rhizomes multiply rather quickly. Allow the plants to grow until they are beginning to get crowded, then begin to harvest what you want. Some people remove their iris rhizomes from the ground and divide them that way. I leave mine in the ground and use a sharp knife or clean pruners to slice through the rhizome removing only the ones I wish to harvest.

The smaller the orris root rhizome is cut, the easier it will be to powder once it’s dry.

Once I am back inside, I cut off all the roots and foliage. This discarded material goes into the compost pile where it will break down. I then wash off the rhizomes to remove any dirt remaining on the rhizome. I pat the rhizome dry with paper towels, then put it on a cutting board and slice it into thin strips. Some people prefer to grate the rhizome because that gives you smaller chips that are easier to powder.

Dried orris root ready to use.

Once the rhizome is cut or grated up, lay it out on a drying screen to dry. You can put it in a dehydrador on the lowest setting if you prefer. Give this root plenty of time to dry. You don’t want to put it away wet and risk mold ruining your stash.

Once it is completely dry, put it in a glass bottle with a lid. Put this in a cool, dark, dry place. It needs to sit for two years at this point. Shake the bottle from time to time if you think about it. As the orris root ages, it takes on a unique smell similar to lilacs.

Store orris root in a sealed jar in a cool, dark and dry place.

Once the two years is up, mix the orris root up one last them, then it is ready to use. You can use it like it is or powder it as needed. To powder the root you need a heavy duty food processor or kitchen grinder.

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11 thoughts on “How To Make Orris Root Powder

  1. dee says:

    I just dug up some very croweded iris’s in my yard. I gave some of them away, but have a bunch left over. My question is does it make a difference which bearded iris is used? Mine are deep maroon and a shorter variety. I also grow lavender and if I can use the roots I have it would be serendipity!

  2. Hello Dee and thank you for your question. The orris root iris is a specific one, so yes, it does matter. The botanical name of this particular iris is Iris x germanica var florentina.

  3. dee says:

    Okay. I appreciate you clearing it up. I would like to grow the specific iris for the orris root. Do you have a suggestion as to where I can obtain it? I have so many different iris plants, colors and heights, none of which I have purchased – strickley plant exchanges. I don’t think I have this specific one.

  4. dee says:

    Both sites are great. I really appreciate your help, thank you!

  5. Bart Hance says:

    many varieties of iris can and have been used to make ‘orris root’ for perfume and gin production. iris x germanica var florentina may be the traditional orris root variety but they all have unique and wonderful aromas that should be explored

  6. @Bart Hance: Thank you for commenting Bart. I was unaware of that fact. Have you used some of the other varieties to make orris root? I am interested in knowing more if you care to share.

  7. Jeanette Delauter says:


  8. Jeanette Delauter says:

    There are several varieties of Orris in commerce, differing chiefly in colour and the care with which they have been peeled. The finest is Florentine Orris, from I. Florentina, which is carefully peeled, nearly white, plump and very fragrant, irregular in shape, bearing small marks where the rootlets have been removed. Veronese Orris, from I. Germanica, is usually somewhat compressed and elongated, less suddenly tapering than the Florentine root, less carefully peeled, yellowish in colour, and somewhat wrinkled and has not the fine fragrance of the Florentine Orris.

    Morocco or Mogadore Orris, also obtained from I. Germanica, bears particles of reddishbrown cork, is darker in colour generally and less fragrant; the pieces are also smaller, flatter, more shrunken and often bear the shrivelled remains of leaves at the apex. This variety is sometimes bleached with sulphur dioxide. It is altogether inferior to both the foregoing varieties. Bombay Orris is also of small size, dark-coloured and of inferior fragrance.

  9. @Jeanette Delauter: Thank you Jeanette! I think what I have is the I. florentina. Can you tell from the picture? It looked white to me when I cut it up – and that is the one it was supposed to be.

  10. dehra mcdonald says:

    I am so excited now I have discovered your website as I have started growing my own herbs .. I also have many flowers and I am collecting and drying all the petals and buds I can to make pot pourri. I have one question. About ten years ago I bought powdered orris root and still have enough to use for this year, but I am wondering if it still retains all its properties after so long.I´d be very grateful if you could help me in this matter. Thank you , Dehra.

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