• Chrissy Thornton

I'm Going To Plant And Grow A Dye Garden Part 1

I thought this year I would try to plant and grow a dye garden after the last frost.

Before the invention of synthetic dyes in the 1850s all dyes were natural pigments.

I would love to try bundle dyeing. I already grow a lot of flowers of my own but I want to grow some traditional plants used for dyeing also.

I was watching a video the other day about 'Woad': I couldn't believe my eyes when wool dipped in a dye bath of woad (that started as a murky yellow) as by magic turned a beautiful shade of blue as soon as the wool hit the air.

I want to try silk eco printing to make silk scarfs using flowers and natural dyes.

First I am going to prepare my plot: Apparently most of the plants used for dyeing are wild flowers that like a lot of sunshine and light.

This first year I am mainly going to discover which plants grow well and where. Apparently if you are not careful Woad can take over your garden as it self seeds everywhere.

I have read that the plants should be kept weed free, watered well, and kept free of pests until established. They don't mind poor soil so I will try and find an uncultivated spot; maybe I will mix a general compost 1:2 ratio.

I have read that after several weeks I should see my dye garden grow and mature and I can begin to harvest. At first I will limit this to 20% of the plant so it can recuperate and leave something for the butterflies and bees. At the end of the season I will harvest 80-85% of the plants and let the rest go to seed so I can gather it all for next years dye garden.Some plants can be gown in containers too.

I am to going to aim for the 3 primary colours Blue Red and Yellow as I am hoping that from this the full rainbow of colours will be available to me by mixing different colour dyes together. (I am looking forward to making a beautiful mess). I intend to keep it small to begin with.

Plants I am thinking of growing for the Dye Bath are:


Hibiscus flower

Madder - Roots

Sumac - Berries

Beetroot - Veg

St Johns Wort - Whole plant (red, pink yellow and green can be obtained from one plant).


Bay Leaves – Leaves

Saffron – Stamens

Marigold = Flowers

Queen Annes Lace = Flowers

St John's Wort – Plant

Golden Rod – Flowers

Larkspur – Plant



Red Basil - Whole plant

Dark Red Hibiscus - Flowers

Day Lillie's - Flowers past their prime

Blue/Blueish Purple

Hyacinth flowers

Indigo - Foliage

Woad - Leaves

Mulberry - Fruit

Cornflowers - Flowers

Blue Berries - Fruit

I will also be able to dry some by hanging them upside down and I will also put some in the freezer to use when its cold and there is nothing around.

I can't wait to start Eco printing and I will add my first efforts to this blog later in the year in

Part 2. You never know how the Eco print will turn out. The beauty of it is every one will be different.

I will show you what I did and how I got on.


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