Non-Traditional Dye Plant Essentials


Hello, in my last blog post I talked briefly about how for the last three years my garden has had the main focus of growing flowers for their dye results. I tested almost every flower in my garden, but especially the ones that were deep colours, and I have had some spectacular results as well as a lot of underwhelming ones. And I think I have come to a point where I can dial back the frantic obsession of trying every plant in my gardens dye potential as well as only buying plants that have intense colours for their dye potential.


The colours I want to harvest from my garden are ones that I cannot buy as well as ones that are rare from natural dyes. So this means greens and blues mainly, as well as some silvers and purples. And I have found plants that give me those results! Mind you one thing before I start the list I will say that many of these plants are only annuals. So that means usually replanting them every year, but collecting seed and taking cuttings is always an option to keep in mind if you don’t want to repurchase these year after year. And most of these flowers I dry then use to make dye bath, they would give very different results if frozen and used in a bundle dye. But enough with the dilly dallying and onto the list of plants!


For blues:

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Black and deep purple Petunias gives a grey blue colour.



Black Hollyhocks gives a periwinkle colour raw, but can be shifted to a light blue with a base such as baking soda is added.



Dark Purple Sweetpeas gives a deeper hued periwinkle than the Hollyhocks.



Purple Lilacs result in a blue especially in a bundle dye, and the darker the lilacs the darker the blue.


For Silver:


(Medium to deep) Purple Clematis results in a wonderful silver. This wasn’t a colour that I ever really thought about using but after the dye tests I really found it quite beguiling.


For greens and others:


Pink Crabapple Blossoms gives an array of wonderful colours. I have achieved golds, purples and greens.


The different colours come from the different points and ways in which you use them. A fresh blossom dye bath gives green or yellow, a week old dye bath gives purple and the gold comes in when you use the blossoms for a bundle dye.



Red Petunias results in a deep army-like green.



Fuchsia Snapdragons transfers as an olive green onto cloth.



Pale pink Hibiscus flowers result in a pale green. I don’t personally grow a hibiscus tree but my uncle does and gives me all the dried flowers off of it.


For purples:


Fern peonies give a unique pink-purple tone. It isn’t a true purple or a true pink it is somewhere in between and it is a delightfully fresh colour.


So those are my must-have’s for my garden as far as dye plants go. Do you have any dye plants that you must grow for certain colours?




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