Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Re-Purposing Dried Plants In Fire-Starting Bouquets

Instead of throwing dried plants, flowers and herbs in the compost bin, Mary Lu Orr likes to re-purpose them as fire-starting bouquets.

Mary Lu Orr and her fire-starting bouquet

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

Mary Lu Orr prides herself on re-purposing just about everything. This fire-starting bouquet not only looks and smells beautiful, but once it's thrown in the fire place, it will keep the fire burning strong for hours.

It’s a gorgeous December morning in southern Indiana, unseasonably warm in fact.

Mary Lu Orr is enjoying the sun out on the porch where she’s surrounded by bunches and bunches of dried plants, flowers and herbs. She assembling some fire-starting bouquets that will decorate the living room and then eventually be tossed into the fire to keep the flame going.

“All these things are still useful but aren’t prime and you just hate to throw them in the compost,” she says.

Fire-Starting Bouquets

  1. She begins by laying down a paper bag she’s cut in half. Next, it’s a sheet of the Financial Times, which she uses because she likes the pink paper on which it’s printed.
  2. Then she gets creative combining Russian sage with sunflower heads, oregano with blackberry lilies, and finishing the bouquet off with some prickly teasel.
  3. Now fold it up like your local florist would do, snugly wrapping the papers around the plants. It can’t be too snug because the bouquet needs to fit into a skinny wine bag. Wrapping twine around the bouquet will help compress it.
  4. And finally, you now have a use for all those old ribbons and bows from holidays gone by: decorate the bouquet with a colorful ribbon.

This bouquet will make your house feel like an expansive field of flowers once it’s tossed into a fire. But your home doesn’t need to have a fireplace to benefit from one of these bouquets: they look and smell beautiful all on their own.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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