The Prettiest, Best Dye Flowers to Plant in Your Garden This Spring
One of the questions I’m asked most is, “What flowers are best for dyeing?” And I love to answer it because I’ve done a lot of experimenting, and I want to save you the heartache from sad, bad results. Maybe not bad, bad, because there’s nothing bad about growing flowers. The growing part is absolutely beautiful in every way. The process itself is beautiful, and the flowers are beautiful for the birds, and bees, and other critters, and the health of your soil and water in your community, and beautiful for you and your neighbors, and the children around who come to admire them.
However, I often hear from other dyers and artists, “Love your results!” But many a time I’ve planted something really gorgeous that I’ve heard is a dye plant, and then I get all excited with my seeds or plants, watch and wait, and watch and wait some more, and carefully snip them, and place them on my gorgeous organic cotton cloth (which is super expensive, because only the best, healthiest, softest, ethically grown cotton will do, darlings)—only to get a horrid brown blob. No, no, I am not happy with that, not one bit. The lovely thing is that those brown blobs can be covered up with some other dye materials typically, but still. Not a fun or magical surprise.
Five flowers that will not make brown, and will give you permanent, gorgeous results every time (if your fabric has been mordanted) are cosmos, marigold, coreopsis, dahlias, and goldenrod (technically a weed. For cosmos and dahlias, the darker varietals, the better. Marigolds, coreopsis, and goldenrod are always yellows or orangey shades.
Tip: The color of the flower is often not the color that will be produced on your fabric. All of those lovely zinnias will make permanent marks on fabric, but not in the colors of the petals. Oftentimes, these are more likely to make tans and greens.
The great news is that all of these flowers are hardy and easy to grow. And so pretty, and healthy, too.