Making your own orris root powder to use as a fixative in potpourri or other crafts is easier than you might think. Orris root powder is also used as a cosmetic stabilizer and to help keep linens fresh – just add a pinch of orris root powder to your washing detergent if you make your own or directly to your wash water. Although I have not personally tried this, I did come across some uses for it in tea and also is used as a homeopathic treatment. 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.
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.
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.
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 violets or lilacs.
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.