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“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”― Audrey Hepburn...PART 3

This is part 3 in my little series of beginner botanical dye related posts (for now). So if you are interested in this topic, then go check out the other two posts that are just before this one.

5 Great Choices for Starting Flower Dye Garden

So hopefully you are starting to think "Spring" and prepare for warmer months ahead...and with that comes the budding thoughts of planting a flower dye garden. (I will only be talking about dye flowers in this post, yay!) So I wanted to give you 5 of my tried and true natural dye flowers, suppliers, and tips to help you on your journey for a fun and successful dye garden.

(I am not being paid to endorsed any of these suppliers so this is just my opinion and what has worked for me)

So, where to begin? Firstly, you need to ask your self this...are you just starting out and want to experiment with a lot of different dye flowers? Or are you just looking to start small and but have a good solid harvest from a single variety? Either way here are a few ideas for getting started.

Not ALL flowers are dye flowers. For many scientific reasons well beyond the purpose of this post. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't experiment with your natural surroundings and see what kind of colors you can get from what is in your very own backyard. I read somewhere to keep an eye out for the flowers in Summer that still hold their color after they have taken on a lot of harsh sun. IF the petals still look vibrant, most likely the color that they make will have good fastness too. The flowers I am suggesting to you in this post are those that are KNOWN as good sources of natural dye and will leave you with happy results and great color on your fiber.

Lots of really great natural dye flowers are wild flowers. Easy to grow, long lasting, often drought resistant, fantastic for pollinators, and of course incredibly beautiful. That being said, most of them do really well when they have room to really go wild and free. Although most of these flowers you can grow in pots and you will still get get a really nice harvest.

Sulphur Cosmos

-Easy to grow by sowing directly into the ground in early Spring after the first frost

-Can be grown in a container but will do best when it can spread out and thrive

-The more you pick them, the more flowers will follow

Look at the fiery red/orange...this is not an edited photo they really do look this beautiful. When you see color like this from your dye flowers you can be certain that they will leave beautiful orange pigment on your fiber when mordanted with alum. These flowers are also great for hammering, pressing, and drying. They are just an all around great dye flower with so many uses and potential.They are really a must!

The most amazing cosmos in all of the land can be purchased at Grand Prismatic Seed. They have a really great selection of other natural dye flowers and plants as well. But definitely grab the Tango Cosmos. They produce stunning blooms and will keep blooming all Summer long. The more you pick them in fact, the more they will bloom. The bees love them and will use them as shelter so be sure to keep an eye out from them before you pick the flowers. This is an absolute must grow dye flower!


-Easy to grow

-Can be grown in a container

-Thrive on being picked and will continue to grow all Spring/Summer

Marigolds are probably my favorite dye flower. (Thats a big statement, right?) I feel like in a lot of ways they are a bit of an "underdog" and I like underdogs. They just quietly and unassumingly sit in the garden. It's hard to grasp all of their potential at first glance, but the more I dive into this art, the more and more I appreciate the Marigold.

They are super easy to grow and will also bloom like crazy if you keep picking them. Grand Prismatic Seed has lots of great marigold seeds to pick from-however I really like buying my marigolds from the local green houses as small plants. Marigolds are one of the first signs of Spring and are very easy to come by in the garden centers here in the North East. You don't need a special "dye" variety although different color marigolds will leave different colors on your fiber. I have gotten a range of golds, yellows, and greens from marigolds. You can grow them in a pot, planter, or in your garden. The more room they have, the more they will bush out and grow. They dry up beautiful too for use all winter long.

Just be sure you are buying marigolds and not calendula. While calendula is amazing all by itself for so many reasons- I am speaking specifically about Marigolds. If you decide to buy seeds- check out Hudson Valley Seed Co. They have a really great selection of Marigold seeds, I suggest buying the African variety as they produce big puffy blooms and also the Medley that will have a range of gold and red blooms. That will be a perfect selection to work from this season. Hudson Valley Seed Co. might also have the most beautiful seed packets that I've ever seen- they artwork is created by local artists who are picked each season to create the packets. So cool!

Marigolds are a must grow!


-Easy to grow

-Can be grown in a container

-Thrive on being picked and will continue to grow all Spring/Summer

-Will come back the next year! (One of my favorite qualities in a dye flower)

This flower! Make sure you grow Coreopsis. (Write it down or stop reading my post and go purchase seeds for this incredible workhorse of a dye flower) For this flower be sure to buy the "dyers variety". You can find them at Grand Prismatic Seed or Botanical Colors.

This flower can do just about everything from leaving a beautiful eco print on your fabric that is a perfect print of the flower itself, to flower hammering, drying for bundle dye or flat dye. It's just an all around great dye flower. There are many varieties of this flower- but I recommend starting with the dyers version.

Just grow them. You will be happy you did. Promise.

Black Knight Scabiosa

-Requires a little more work than the flowers mentioned above

-Loves to be picked to encourage more blooms

This flower is real stunner. It's so pretty and I could never grow enough of them. They are fantastic fresh or dried. They are a more PH sensitive flower so the colors will range based on your mordant and acidity. I generally use them in bundle dyeing as they add a beautiful pop of blue/purple. They don't have great fastness, so just be sure to bundle with some other botanicals that will stick around a little longer. But in general- if you want a real WOW flower- Go with these. You won't be disappointed.

Jet Black Hollyhock

And for my last choice I really went back and forth with which flower to suggest- But I decided to go with the Black Hollyhock because it is just SOOO pretty and so fun to bundle dye with.

There is only one reason why I hesitated to suggest this flower and that is simply because I am an instant gratification gal-And this flower is a biennial. It will bloom every other year (booooo!) Usually the first year you will not get flowers- and then you will the second season. (they come back each year, yay!)

However! The first year I grew mine I was lucky enough to have amazing blooms. So I say give them a go. They are totally worth the wait if they don't produce for you in the first year.

When you mordant with alum you will get a range similar to the Black Scabiosa but just MORE of it- so large areas of that beautiful blue/purple. They are not very color fast so it's more of that ephemeral beauty that we have to enjoy- but wow, they leave some really bold beautiful color.

The color will shift and fade over time, but I find it desirable- it's not really just fade and gone- it's more of a transition. You can purchase seeds here Siskiyou Seeds.

Either way, I love this flower for photos, dye, and just to enjoy its tall stalks of beauty. I find the best thing to do is wait until the blooms fall off and harvest them from the ground, I think they are too pretty to just pull the flowers off.

A few other honorable mentions that I also LOVE are

Black Hopi Sunflowers, Rudbeckia, Dyer's Chamomile, Larkspur, Yarrow, and Safflower.

Ok! So that's all I have for you for now- If you have a question, drop it below and I will respond.

Now go get ready for SPRING!


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