Dye plant seeds harvested from our own garden grown plants or sustainably harvested from the fields and meadows, on the organic Estate in South Oxfordshire where we are based.
Woad (Isatis tinctoria) seeds can be sown in modules or pots in early spring to protect them from slug attacks or direct sown. Woad is a biennial, harvest the leaves in the first year for dyeing blues (you can get several crops) and if you want to collect your own seed leave a couple of plants to flower and seed the following year.
Madder (Rubia tinctorum) seeds can be sown in modules or pots and planted out in the garden or a large pot or container. The roots will be ready to harvest in 3-4 years and dye orange, red and pink.
Weld (Reseda luteola) seeds can be scattered on any disturbed ground in spring. The whole Weld plants can be harvested for dyeing later the same year and give clear bright yellows. Weld doesn’t like to be transplanted, so best to sow where you want them to grow.
Chinese Woad (Isatis indigotica) seeds can be sown in seed trays and transplanted in late Spring, however transplanting is thought by some to provoke them into flowering earlier, so it may be best to direct sow later in the year. Chinese woad contains significantly more indigo precursors than Isatis tinctoria but you are likely to get a smaller harvest.
Cosmos sulphureus seeds are best sown in seed trays in Spring then planted out once the risk of frost has passed. The whole plant dyes beautiful oranges, or you can harvest just the flowers and the plants will go on producing more. This a beautiful dye plant that will make a great addition to any garden.
Dyer’s Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) seeds are probably best sown in Spring in modules or trays in order to protect them from slug attacks, then planted out. The whole plant dyes beautiful oranges, or you can harvest just the flowers and the plants will go on producing more. This is one of the prettier dye plants and makes a great addition to any garden.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) seeds seeds can be sown in Spring in modules or trays and planted out when they are ready and once the risk of frost has passed. Safflower is an annual and the petals can be harvested and dried to use for yellow, orange and pink dyes (Safflower was used to create ‘red tape’).
St John’s Wort ( Hypericum perforatum) seeds can be sown outdoors where they are to grow. Flowers can be harvested to dye a reddish orange.
Burr Marigold (Bidens tripartita) seeds can be sown in modules or trays and then planted out. They really like damp locations! The whole plant can be harvested when flowering to dye a beautiful orange. The other common name for this plant is Beggar Ticks and the seeds will get stuck firmly into your clothes, so do beware!
Flax (Linum usitassimum) seed is from our own stock of long flax fibre plants, sow in spring in a block, for a beautiful patch of rippling blue flowers that you can harvest and process into linen and/or keep for seeds.