Top, Middle and Base notes are referenced in this blog. To learn about blending for aromatic balance, read Blending for Aromatic Balance.
Blending by plant part is a beautiful way to take inspiration from the natural energy of plants to help support those energies within ourselves.
For example, trees offer stability, flowers offer calming and citrus brings us joy – these are the natural energies of plants and their essential oils are concentrations of these energies.
Focus on one plant part to blend, or layer in different parts to create complex blends. Unlike medicinal and therapeutic blending, this is a more ethereal and intuitive way of blending, which can bring so much joy, pleasure and personal agency to the art of aromatherapy.
Below is an overview of blending by plant part, with example scenarios and remedies. And once you’re ready to get started, use our Shop by Plant Part function for easy browsing and shopping.
Overview of Plant Part Energies & Oils
- Energy: uplifting and emotionally balancing; also used for amorous and aphrodisiac blends.
- Oils: Rose, Lavender, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine
- Energy: Often thought to be invigorating and refreshing.
- Oils: Lemon, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Bergamot
- Energy: Frequently associated with grounding and strength.
- Oils: Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Pine, Cypress, Hinoki, Ho Wood
- Energy: Considered grounding and stabilizing.
- Oils: Ginger, Vetiver, Angelica Root, Turmeric, Valerian Root
- Energy: Often linked with beginnings and new growth.
- Oils: Cardamom, Coriander, Fennel, Celery, Dill, Caraway, Cumin, Nutmeg
- Energy: Traditionally associated with spirituality and meditation.
- Oils: Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin.
Now let’s dive deeper into each plant part to look at how we can blend for the benefits of its energies.
Woods / Barks / Roots
Oils from wood, bark and roots relate to the root chakra, representing the energies of support, strength and grounding. Some familiar oils from this plant part are cedarwood, birch, sandalwood, ginger and vetiver.
Essential oils from these parts are excellent to use when going through change, transition, depression or just when you’re feeling off kilter or are having a tough time making a decision. They’ll bring you back to a sense of confidence, grounded in your body. Wood and root oils are stabilizing, supporting, offering a sense of homeostasis when there’s trauma or when we’re feeling flighty, unstable, anxious or overwhelmed.
Sample scenario: Your friend has separated from her long time partner and is moving to a new town, seeking new employment. She feels off-balance, a bit lost, ungrounded.
Remedy: Make a blend with a strong wood and/or root component, including one or more woods, like cedarwood, birch, sandalwood, Buddha wood and roots such as spikenard, vetiver and ginger. This will help her regain a sense of stability and groundedness, growing strong roots in her new life situation. Since these are mostly Base notes, I would balance the blend with a flower or light citrus. You may also add in a seed oil to support her new beginning.
RESINS – Resins relate to the root and heart chakras, representing Healing, Protection and Purification. Some familiar resins are Frankincense and Myrrh, two oils that go back thousands of years in human history. Another wonderful resin comes from Pinyon Pine, considered sacred by some Native American peoples, bringing a sense of peace and balance. Another option is Benzoin, which offers a sweet, balsamic scent.
Resins are excreted on bark when the wood is cut or wounded to help repair it, and they offer similar emotional healing to the human spirit, helping to repair our hearts in times of betrayal and loss. They help us recover from addictions, abuse and low self-esteem – consider them to be a soothing balm for the soul.
Scenario: A sudden loss in the family has left a friend with a sense of grief, trauma and PTSD. Deeply wounded, she needs a sense of protection to feel safe again. You’ll base your blend on one of the oils we’ve mentioned – for example, Myrrh. Like most resins, this is a Base note, so you may balance it with a Middle note like Lavender and a Top note like white grapefruit, for a peaceful and healing blend.
SEEDS – Seeds relate to the sacral chakra, representing Potential, Expansion and Growth. Some essential oils made from seeds are cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, star anise, coriander, carrot seed and vanilla. Seeds are typically Middle notes.
Seeds symbolize new growth and potential and help guide new opportunities. They are linked to the season of spring and are useful when birthing new ideas or trying for literal pregnancy. They restore our life energy, offering a sense of growth, nourishment and manifestation of potential.
Scenario: Your friend is starting a new business, growing her seedling of an idea into being. Since your supportive blend will be inspired by essential oils from seeds, let’s start with fennel. This fresh, somewhat licorish-y scent is a Middle note and can be balanced nicely with sweet orange, a Top Note. To ground the blend, I may use another seed which is a Base note, Vanilla, in small proportion to the other two so as not to overwhelm the blend. This would be a lovely and sweet blend inspiring new growth and opportunities.
FRUITS – Fruits relate to the solar plexus and throat chakras, with cleansing, uplifting, energizing properties. The only fruits that offer essential oils are citrus fruits – the oil is extracted from the rind, either by cold-pressing or steam distilling. Citrus oils are stimulating and purifying, bringing a sense of energy and clarity. They clear out negativity and toxicity, bringing refreshment and vital energy. This large family of citrus offers us some of the best essential oils out there – check out lemon, lime, sweet orange, mandarin, tangerine, bergamot, white and pink grapefruits, blood orange, kaffir lime, and yuzu, a Japanese fruit that smells heavenly, like a sweet grapefruit. These are truly some of the oils you want to fill your apothecary with, as they not only offer the energetic benefits but they help fix any blends that have gone wrong, making just about any blend better. They also make fantastic additions to your natural cleaning products!
Scenario: It’s winter, with long dark days and you’re feeling a bit stagnant and uninspired. With too much time on the couch, you want to wake up your life and creative energies. To accomplish this, I’m going to choose Bergamot, which has a fresh and energizing scent, add a few drops of lemon to brighten it up even more, and then balance with Ho Wood – a light Middle note which inspires transformation. To finish it off, I’ll ground the blend with a sweet and energizing base note flower, Ylang Ylang – considered a tonic for the heart, with lovely uplifting qualities. In a 5 ml bottle, I may just use 1 drop of Ylang Ylang, as it’s very strong, to 2 drops of Ho Wood and 2 Drops of Bergamot, and 3 drops of Lemon and see how that smells before adjusting. This is sure to be a Beautiful and inspiring Blend!
Just as we share flowers with others to express love, so do their oils support us in similar ways. With delicate beauty, they offer inspiration, a sense of transcendence, and universal love – they carry the thread of deep connection between all things.
Scenario: A friend is getting married, and you want to make a personal gift that really carries meaning. You might make a blend or perfume that is infused with flowers to offer her wishes of love, connection and harmony in her new life commitment. Try Rose as your central middle note, perhaps grounding with a drop of Magnolia oil, a base note offering calming properties. To finish it off, find a top note like neroli (from the flowers of the bitter orange tree), for a sweet and loving blend.
LEAVES/Sprigs/Needles and Cones – relating to the throat and heart chakras, representing Clarity, Breath and Self-Expression.
These parts of the plant are its own respiration system, giving it fresh air to breathe, and allowing it to exhale oxygen, which we need to survive. This symbiosis we have with the plant kingdom allows us to reap benefits from these oils relating to a sense of expansion and the affects of deep breathing – like anti-anxiety, ability to express oneself, and clarity of purpose.
You’re about to step on stage, give a presentation, or speak up in any area that brings you to the edges of your comfort zone. By breathing deeply the oils of these plant parts we can engage our throat chakra and bring forth the energy of expansion and breath, eliciting a greater sense of confidence and calm.
Remedy: Create a fresh blend with eucalyptus at its heart, balanced with a grounding wood like sandalwood and finished with the fresh top note of lime. This blend would smell beautiful as well as offer clearing, calming and opening energy to bring a sense of grounded courage, and ability to speak authentically.
These are just a few ways that the energetics of essential oils can offer us inspiring and joyful ways to work naturally to balance and improve our moods and energies.
To explore this lesson in your own life, design a blend for yourself or someone you love that meets an emotional need that they have right now.