buy natural dyes
Blog Posts

Which Plants give Which Colors as Natural Dye

Shades of ORANGE

– Alder (Alnus rubra) (Bark)- orange

– Barberry (mahonia sp.) yellow orange (with alum) very strong & permanent. Any part of the plant will work.

– Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) (root when cut open)- will give a good orange to reddish orange color.

– Butternut Tree (Juglans cinerea) – (bark, seed husks) – light yelllow-orange

– Carrot (Daucus carota) – (roots) – orange

– Eucalyptus – (all parts, leaves and bark) beautiful shades of tan, deep rust red, yellow, green, orange and chocolate brown.

– Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) Yields bright permanent orange with alum.

– Lichen (orchella weed) (Roccellaceae) – gold, purple, red

– Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) (twigs) – yellow/orange

– Onion (Allium cepa) (skin) – orange

– Pomegranate (skins)– with alum anywhere from orange to khaki green.

– Sassafras (leaves)

– Turmeric (Curcuma longa) dyed cloth will turn orange or red if it is dipped in lye.

 

Shades of BROWN

– Acorns (boiled)

– Amur Maple (Acer Ginnala) – black, blue, brown from dried leaves.

– Beetroot –Dark Brown with FeSO4

– Birch (bark) – Light brown/ buff – Alum to set

– Broom – (bark) – yellow/brown

– Broom Sedge – golden yellow and brown

– Butternut Tree (Juglans cinerea) – (bark) -dark brown – boil the bark down to concentrated form

– Coffee Grinds

– Colorado Fir – (bark) – tan

– Coneflower (flowers) – brownish green ; leaves and stems – gold

– Dandelion (roots) brown

– Fennel – (flowers, leaves) – yellow/brown

– Goldenrod (shoots ) – deep brown

– Hollyhock (petals)

– Ivy – (twigs) – yellow/brown

– Juniper Berries

– Maple Trees (Red Leaf Buds) – red-brown color when dried. Found on branches before new leaves appear only present during early spring and throughout fall.

– Oak bark will give a tan or oak color.

– Oregano – (Dried stalk) – Deep brown- Black

– Pine Tree Bark – light medium brown. Needs no mordant.

– St John’s Wort (blossom) – brown

– Sumac (leaves) – tan

– Tea Bags – light brown, tan

– Walnut (hulls) – deep brown (wear gloves)

– Walnut (husks) – deep brown – black

– White Birch – (inner bark) – brown

– White Maple (bark) – Light brown/ buff – Alum to set

– Wild plum root will give a reddish or rusty brown.

– Yellow dock (shades of brown)

 

Shades of PINK

– Strawberries

– Avocado from skin and seed – a light pink hue.

– Cherries

– Raspberries (red)

– Roses and Lavender, with a little mint and some lemon juice to activate the alkaloids can make both a brilliant pink dye and a very tasty pink lemonade.

– Lichens – A pink, brown, or wine colored dye can be produced from a lichen known as British soldiers.

– Camilla -It’s a nice pink-magenta. With lemon and salt.

– Grand Fir – (bark) pink

 

Shades of BLUE – PURPLE

– Dogwood (bark) – blue

– Red cabbage

– Woad (first year leaves). Woad gives a pale to mid blue colour depending on the type of fabric and the amount of woad used.

– Mulberries (royal purple)

– Elderberries (lavender)

– Saffron – (petals) blue/green

– Grapes (purple)

– Blueberries

– Cornflower – (petals) blue dye with alum, water

– Cherry (roots)

– Blackberry (fruit) strong purple

– Hyacinth – (flowers) – blue

– Japanese indigo (deep blue)

– Indigo (leaves) – blue

– Red Cedar Root (purple)

– Raspberry -(fruit) purple/blue

– Red Maple Tree (purple)(inner bark)

– Nearly Black Iris – (dark bluish purple) alum mordant

– Dogwood – (fruit) greenish-blue

– Oregon Grape -(fruit) blue/purple

– Purple Iris – blue

– Smilex (S. aspera) – blue

– Sweetgum (bark) – purple / black

– Queen Anne’s Lace

 

Shades of RED – BROWN

– Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) (root) – red

– Elderberry – red

– Whole (or the peel of) pomegranates – Between purple-red to pink from fresh pomegranates, and a brown color from very overripe (beginning to rot) pomegranates.

– Red leaves will give a reddish brown color I use salt to set the dye.

– Sumac (fruit) – light red

– Sycamore (bark)- red

– Dandelion (root)

– Beets – deep red

– Bamboo – turkey red

– Crab Apple – (bark) – red/yellow

– Rose (hips)

– Chokecherries

– Madder (root) – red

– Hibiscus Flowers (dried)

– Kool-aid

– Canadian Hemlock – (bark) reddish brown

– Japanese Yew – (heartwood) – brown dye

– Wild ripe Blackberries

– Brazilwood

– St. John’s Wort – (whole plant) soaked in alcohol – red

– Bedstraw (Galium triflorum) (root) – red

 

Shades of GRAY-BLACK

– Iris (roots)

– Sumac (leaves) (Black)

– Meadowsweet makes an amazing black dye.

– Blackberry

– Butternut Hulls

– Carob pod (boiled) will give a gray to cotton

– Oak galls – makes a good black dye.

– Sawthorn Oak – (seed cups) – black

– Walnut (hull) – black

– Rusty nails & vinegar – set with Alum

 

Shades of RED – PURPLE

– Pokeweed (berries)

– Hibiscus (flowers, dark red or purple ones) – red-purple.

– Daylilies (old blooms)

– Safflower – (flowers, soaked in alcohol) – red

– Logwood (is a good purple but you have to watch it as it dyes quick when the pot is fresh. Also it exhausts fast. We use alum to mordant and using iron can give you logwood gray.)

– Huckleberry – lavender (can use it for dye and also for ink.)

– Portulaca – (flowers, dried and crushed to a powder) use with a vinegar orsalt mordant, can produce strong magentas, reds, scarlets, oranges and
yellows (depending upon the color of the flower)

– Beluga Black Lentils – soaked in water overnight .. yield a dark purplish / black water. The color is washfast and lightfast and needs NO MORDANT and it lasts – a beautiful milk chocolate brown (when super thick) … to a lighter medium brown or light brown when watered down.

– Dark Hollyhock (petals) – mauve

– Basil – purplish grey

 

Shades of GREEN

– Artemisia species provide a range of greens from baby’s breath to nettle green.

– Artichokes

– Tea Tree – (flowers) green/black

– Spinach (leaves)

– Sorrel (roots) – dark green

– Foxglove – (flowers) apple green

– Lilac – (flowers) – green

– Camellia – (pink, red petals) – green

– Snapdragon – (flowers) – green

– Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) – bright olive/apple green

– Grass (yellow green)

– Pigsweed (entire plant) yellow green

– Red Pine (needles) green

– Nettle

– Broom – (stem) green

– Larkspur – green – alum

– Plantain Roots

– White Ash – (bark) – yellow

– Purple Milkweed – (flowers & leaves) – green

– Lily-of-the-valley (light green) be careful what you do with the spent dye bath. The plant is toxic so try to avoid pouring it down the drain into the water supply.

– Barberry root (wool was dyed a greenish bronze-gold)

– Red onion (skin) (a medium green, lighter than
forest green)

– Yarrow – (flowers) yellow & green shades

– Mulga Acacia – (seed pods) – green

– Peach – (leaves) yellow/green

– Coneflower (flowers) – green

– Peppermint – dark kakhi green color

– Peony (flowers) – pale lime green

– Queen Anne’s Lace – pale green

– Hydrangea (flowers) – alum mordant, added some copper and it came out a beautiful celery green

– Chamomile (leaves) – green

 

Shades of PEACH–SALMON

 

– Jewelweed – orange/peach

– Broom Flower

– Virginia Creeper (all parts); alum mordant; Peach.

– Achiote powder (annatto seed)

– Plum tree (roots) (salmon color on wool with alum)

– Weeping Willow (wood & bark) makes a peachy brown (the tannin acts as a mordant)

– Virginia Creeper – (fruit) – pink (all parts); alum mordant; Peach.

– Balm (blossom) – rose pink

 

Shades of YELLOW-WHEAT

– Alfalfa (seeds) – yellow

– Bay leaves – yellow

– Barberry (bark) – yellow

– Beetroot (yellow) (alum & K2Cr2O7)

– Burdock

– Cameleon plant (golden)

– Celery (leaves)

– Crocus – yellow

– Daffodil (flower heads after they have died); alum mordant

– Dahlia Flowers (Red, yellow, orange flowers) make a lovely yellow to orange dye for wool.

– Dandelion (flower)

– Dyer’s Greenwood (shoots) – yellow

– Fustic –Chlorophora tinctoria or Maclura tinctoria (wood)  –  yellow

– Golden Rod (flowers)

– Heather – (plant) – yellow

– Hickory leaves (yellow) if plenty of leaves are boiled and salt added.

– Marigold (blossoms) – yellow

– Mimosa – (flowers) yellow

– Mulga Acacia -(flowers) – yellow

– Mullein (leaf and root) pale yellow. *careful, because the little fuzzy hairs can make one itchy!

– Mullein (verbascum thapsus) (flowers) bright yellow or light green.

– Old man’s beard lichen – yellow/brown/orange shades

– Onion (skins) – set with Alum.

– Oregon-grape roots – yellow

– Osage Orange also known as Bois d’arc or hedgeapple (heartwood, inner bark, wood, shavings or sawdust) (pale yellow)

– Oxallis (wood sorrels) (flowers) – the one with the yellow flowers. Use the flower heads, some stem ok. It is nearly fluorescent yellow, and quite colorfast on alum mordanted wool.

If the oxalis flowers are fermented or if a small dash of cloudy ammonia is added to the dye bath (made alkaline) the fluorescent yellow becomes fluorescent orange. Usually I do this as an after-bath, once I have the initial colour. Useful for shifting the dye shade, and some good surprises in store!

– Queen Anne’s Lace

– Paprika -pale yellow – light orange

– Peach (leaves) – yellow

– Red Clover (whole blossom, leaves and stem) alum mordant – gold

– Saffron (stigmas) – yellow – set with Alum.

– Safflower (flowers, soaked in water) – yellow

– Sassafras (bark)- yellow

– St. John’s Wort – (flowers & leaves) – gold/yellow

– Sumac (bark) – The inner pith of Sumac branches can produce a super bright yellow color.

– Sunflowers – (flowers) – yellow

– Syrian Rue (glows under black light)

– Tansy (tops) – yellow

– Tea ( ecru color)

– Turmeric (spice) –bright yellow

– Weld (bright yellow)

– White mulberry tree (bark) Cream color onto white or off-white wool. Alum mordant.

– Willow (leaves)

– Yarrow – yellow and gold

 Yellow cone flower (whole flower head); chrome mordant; Brass to Greeney-Brass.

– Yellow, Curly, Bitter, or Butter Dock (despite various leaf shapes, all have a bright yellow taproot) gives you a yellow/flesh color.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.