Making Natural Dyes from Plants

Did you know that a great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colors. Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown and grey are available. Go ahead, experiment!

Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dyeing.

To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.

Color Fixatives (Mordant):

Salt Fixative (for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

Plant Fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

Other Mordant: Cream of tartar, iron, tin, alum or chrome

Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.

Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry. Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately.

Muslin, silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best.

NOTE: It's best to use an old large pot as your dye vessel. Wear rubber gloves to handle the fabric that has been dyed, the dye can stain your hands. It's also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure.

A Listing of Plant Material Available for Dyes

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) (roots when cut open - fresh)- mordant: alum - will give a good orange to reddish orange color.

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

- Carrot (Daucus carota) - (roots) - orange

- Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

- 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.

- Golden Marguerite  (Anthemis tinctoria)(fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: chrome - golden orange

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

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

- Madder (Rubia tinctorum ) (fresh roots) - mordant: tin - orange

- Onion (Allium cepa) (yellow skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: tin - bright orange

- Onion (Allium cepa) (red skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: alum - reddish orange

- Onion (Allium cepa) (yellow skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: alum - burnt orange

- Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (fresh or dried fruit)  mordant: chrome - rust

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

- Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)  (fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: tin - rust

- Sassafras (leaves)

- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - (fresh flowers) - mordant: tin - orange/red

- Sunflower

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

- Weld



Shades of BROWN

- Acorns (boiled)

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

- Barberry - (all plant, fresh or dried ) - mordant: alum - tan

- 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

- Burdock

- Cascara sagrada

- Coffee Grinds

- Colorado Fir - (bark) - tan

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

- Comfrey ( Symphytum officinale) (leaves) - mordant: iron - brown

- Dandelion (roots) brown

- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (fresh flowers, leaves) mordant: chrome - golden brown

- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (fresh tops) mordant: iron - brown

- Geranium

- Goldenrod (shoots ) - deep brown

- Hollyhock (Alcea) (petals)

- Hops

- Ivy - (twigs) - yellow/brown

- Juniper Berries (Juniperus)

- Madder (Rubia tinctorum ) (roots) - mordant: iron - brown

- Oak bark will give a tan or oak color.

- Onion (Allium cepa) (red skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: tin - tan/brown

- Onion (Allium cepa) (yellow skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: iron - brown

- Onion (Allium cepa) (red skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: chrome - dark tan

- Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium) (fresh roots) mordant: chrome - tan

- Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium) (fresh roots) mordant: alum - light yellow brown

- Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium) (fresh, all plant) mordant: alum - khaki gold

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

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

- Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (dried fruit)  mordant: alum - brown

- Potentilla (Potentilla verna) (fresh roots)  mordant: chrome - brown/red

- Poplar

- Raspberry (tan)

- St John's Wort (blossom) - brown

- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - (fresh stems) - mordant: alum - brown/red

- Sumac (leaves) - tan

- Sunflower (tan)

- Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratium) (fresh leaves, stems) mordant: alum - tan

- Tea Bags - light brown, tan

- Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi) (fresh leaves) - camel

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

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

- Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) (roots - fresh)- mordant: alum - reddish pink

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

- Cherries

- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)(all plant - fresh) - magenta

- Grand Fir - (bark) pink

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

- Madder (Rubia tinctorum ) (roots) - pink

- Pokeweed

- 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.

- Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (fresh fruit)  mordant: alum - pink

- Sorrel

- Strawberries

- Woad (Isatis tinctoria) (fresh, young leaves) - mordant: alum - pink

Shades of BLUE - PURPLE

- Blackberry (fruit) strong purple

- Blueberries

- Cherry (roots)

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

- Dogwood (bark) - blue

- Dogwood - (fruit) greenish-blue

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) - lavender

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh berries) - mordant: alum - violet

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh berries) - mordant: tin- blue/gray

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh berries) - mordant: chrome - blue

- Geranium (Geranium sylvaticum) - blue/gray

- Grapes (purple)

- Hyacinth - (flowers) - blue

- Indigo (leaves) - blue

- Japanese indigo (deep blue)

- Lady's Bedstraw (Gelium verum) (roots -fresh or dried) - mordant: iron - plum

- Raspberry -(fruit) purple/blue

- Red cabbage

- Red Cedar Root (purple)

- Red Maple Tree (purple)(inner bark)

- Mulberries (royal purple)

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

- Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium) -(fresh fruit) mordant: alum - blue/purple

- Queen Anne's Lace

- Saffron - (petals) blue/green

- Purple Iris - blue

- Smilex (S. aspera) - blue

- Sweetgum (bark) - purple / black

- Woad (Isatis tinctoria)(first year leaves) Woad gives a pale to mid blue color depending on the type of fabric and the amount of woad used.

- Woad (Isatis tinctoria) (fresh, young leaves) - blue


Shades of RED - BROWN

- Bamboo - turkey red

- Bedstraw (Galium triflorum) (root) - red

- Beets - deep red

- Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) (root) - red

- Brazilwood

- Burdock

- Canadian Hemlock - (bark) reddish brown

- Cascara sagrada

- Chokecherries

- Comfrey ( Symphytum officinale)

- Crab Apple - (bark) - red/yellow

- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (root)

- Dock (Rumex spp.) (fresh young leaves) -mordant: chrome - red

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.)

- Fennel

- Geranium

- Hibiscus Flowers (dried)

- Hops

- Japanese Yew - (heartwood) - brown dye

- Juniper

- Kool-aid

- Lady's Bedstraw (Gelium verum) (roots -fresh or dried) - mordant: alum - red

- Madder (Rubia tinctorum ) (fresh roots) - mordant: alum - lacquer red

- Madder (Rubia tinctorum ) (fresh roots) - mordant: chrome - garnet red

- Onion

- Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (fresh fruit)  mordant: alum -  red

- Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (fresh fruit)  mordant: tin - red

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

- Poplar

- Potentilla

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

- Rose (hips)

- St. John's Wort - (whole plant) soaked in alcohol - red

- Sumac (fruit) - light red

- Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratium) (fresh roots) mordant: alum - red

- Sycamore (bark)- red

- Wild ripe Blackberries


Shades of GRAY-BLACK

- Alder

- Blackberry

- Black Walnut

- Butternut Hulls

- Elder

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh bark) - mordant: iron - gray

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

- Iris (roots)

- Meadowsweet makes an amazing black dye.

- Oak galls - makes a good black dye.

- Poplar

- Raspberry

- Rusty nails & vinegar - set with Alum

- Sawthorn Oak - (seed cups) - black

- Sumac (leaves) (Black)

- Sunflower

- Walnut (hull) - black

- Yarrow


Shades of RED - PURPLE

- Basil - purplish grey

- 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.

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

- Dark Hollyhock (petals) - mauve

- Daylilies (old blooms)

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

- Lady's Bedstraw (Gelium verum) (roots -fresh or dried) - mordant: chrome - purplish 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.)

- Pokeweed (berries)

- 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)

- Potentilla (Potentilla verna) (fresh roots)  mordant: iron - purple-red

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


Shades of GREEN

- Agrimony

- Angelica

- Artemisia species provide a range of greens from baby's breath to nettle green.

- Artichokes

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

- Bayberry ( Berberis vulgaris) (all plant: fresh or dried)  - mordant: iron - dark green

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

- Broom - (stem) green

- Camellia - (pink, red petals) - green

- Chamomile (leaves) - green

- Coneflower (flowers) - green

- Dock (Rumex spp.)(fresh leaves) - mordant: iron - dark green

- Foxglove - (flowers) apple green

- Grass (yellow green)

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

- Larkspur - green - alum

- Lilac - (flowers) - 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.

- Majoram (Origanum Majorana) - (fresh whole tops) - mordant: alum - green

- Majoram (Origanum Majorana) - (fresh whole tops) - mordant: chrome - olive green

- Mulga Acacia - (seed pods) - green

- Nettle

- Peach - (leaves) yellow/green

- Peony (flowers) - pale lime green

- Peppermint - dark kakhi green color

- Pigweed (entire plant) yellow green

- Plantain Roots

- Purple Milkweed - (flowers & leaves) - green

- Queen Anne's Lace - pale green

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

- Red Pine (needles) green

- Sage (Salvia officinalis) (fresh tops) - mordant: iron -  green gray

- Snapdragon - (flowers) - green

- Spinach (leaves)

- Sorrel (roots) - dark green

- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) (fresh tops) mordant: iron - dark green

- Tea Tree - (flowers) green/black

- Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi) (fresh, all plant) - mordant: alum and iron - green

- White Ash - (bark) - yellow

- Yarrow - (flowers) yellow & green shades

- Yarrow ( Achillea Millefolium) (Fresh, all plant ) mordant: iron- olive green




- Achiote powder (annatto seed)

- Balm (blossom) - rose pink

- Broom Flower

- Jewelweed - orange/peach

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

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

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




- Betony (Stachys officinalis)  (all plant - fresh ) - mordant: alum - chartreuse

- Broom ( Cytisus scoparius) (tops) - mordant: alum - green yellow

- Feverfew ( Chrysanthemum Parthenium) (fresh leaves, stems) - mordant: chrome - greenish yellow

- Foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea) (fresh flowers) - mordant: alum - chartreuse

- Goldenrod  (Solidago spp.)(all plant - fresh) - mordant: iron - yellow/green

- Nettle (Uritca dioica) )(all plant - fresh) - mordant: alum- yellowish green

- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (fresh flowers, leaves)  mordant: alum - yellow-green

- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) (fresh young leaves) mordant: alum - yellowish green

- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) (fresh flowers) mordant: alum - greenish/yellow



- Agrimony (fresh leaves, stems) - mordant: alum - brassy yellow

- Alfalfa (seeds) - yellow

- Bay leaves - yellow

- Barberry ( Berberis vulgaris) (inner bark, fresh or dried) - yellow

- Barberry  ( Berberis vulgaris) (roots, bark, fresh or dried) - mordant: tin  -  yellow

- Beetroot (yellow) (alum & K2Cr2O7)

- Broom ( Cytisus scoparius)(fresh flowers) - mordant: chrome - deep yellow

- Broom ( Cytisus scoparius) (fresh flowers) - mordant: alum - bright yellow

- Burdock - yellow

- Cameleon plant (golden)

- Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelium nobile)(fresh flowers) - mordant: chrome - yellow

- Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelium nobile)(fresh flowers) - mordant: alum - bright yellow

- 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 (Taraxacum officinale)  (fresh flowers) - mordant: alum - soft yellow

- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)  (fresh flowers) - mordant: tin - yellow

- Dock (Rumex spp.)(fresh roots) - mordant: alum - deep yellow

- Dock (Rumex spp.)(fresh leaves) - mordant: alum - yellow

- Dock (Rumex spp.)(fresh late leaves) - mordant: chrome - gold

- Dyer's Greenwood (shoots) - yellow

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh leaves) - mordant: alum - soft yellow

- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) (fresh leaves) - mordant: chrome- deep yellow

- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (fresh flowers, leaves) mordant: alum - mustard yellow

- Fenugreek - yellow

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

- Golden Marguerite  (Anthemis tinctoria)(fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: tin - yellow

- Golden Marguerite  (Anthemis tinctoria)(fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: alum - yellow buff

- Goldenrod  (Solidago spp.)(flowers - fresh) - mordant: alum - yellow

- Goldenrod  (Solidago spp.)(flowers - fresh) - mordant: chrome - gold

- Goldenrod  (Solidago spp.)(flowers - fresh) - mordant: tin - bright yellow

- Grindelia - yellow

- Heather - (plant) - yellow

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

- Horseradish - yellow

- Lady's Bedstraw (Gelium verum) (tops -fresh) - mordant: alum - dull yellow

- Larkspur -  yellow

- Lavender Cotton (Santolina Chamaecyparissus) (flowers, leaves -fresh) - mordant: chrome - gold

- Lavender Cotton (Santolina Chamaecyparissus) (flowers, leaves -fresh) - mordant: alum - yellow

- Marigold (Tagetes spp. or Calendula spp.) (flowers - fresh or dried) - mordant:  alum - yellow/tan

- Marigold (Tagetes spp. or Calendula spp.) (flowers - fresh or dried) - mordant:  chrome - gold

- Mimosa - (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.

- Nettle (Uritca dioica) )(all plant - fresh) - mordant: chrome - tan

- Old man's beard lichen - yellow/brown/orange shades

- Onion (Allium cepa) (yellow skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: alum - yellow

- Onion (Allium cepa) (red skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: chrome - gold

- Onion (Allium cepa) (yellow skin - fresh or dried) - mordant: chrome - brass

- 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

- Plaintain (Plantago major) (fresh, all plant) - mordant: alum - dull yellow

- Plaintain (Plantago major) (fresh, all plant) - mordant: chrome - camel

- Pomegranate (peel) - yellow

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

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

- Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)  (fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: alum - yellow

- Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)  (fresh or dried flowers) - mordant: iron - brass

- Sage (Salvia officinalis) (fresh tops) - mordant: alum -  yellow

- Sage (Salvia officinalis) (fresh tops) - mordant: chrome -  deep yellow

- Salsify - yellow

- Sassafras (bark)- yellow

- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - (flowers & leaves) - gold/yellow

- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - (fresh tops) - mordant: alum - medium yellow

- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - (fresh tops) - mordant: chrome - bright yellow

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

- Sunflower - (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 ( Achillea Millefolium) (Fresh flowers) mordant: alum - 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.


Author: - Ingredients for a Simple Life


Photo credits: Alvimann | Kevin Connors

206 Responses

  1. Christa Collins

    If I am doing a dye job the incorporates both plant (tumeric) and berry (blueberries) material, then what would The best method of fixative? I’m making a woven wrap out of osnaburg and want to do a gradient dye from yellow to blue.

  2. Landon

    This is a great resource! Thanks for putting this all together. Have you had much luck with green dyes? People have said that they have difficulty with them. Peace ☮

  3. james

    Will these dyes handle repeated machine washes(possibly 100 washes)? Great information. Cheers

  4. Bea

    As far as color fixatives am I correct that you soak your fabric after you dye it?

  5. Celeste Johnston

    This has inspired me. Where can I purchase fiber and fabric to dye?
    Thanks for your help, Celeste

  6. margarida

    could you be kind to tell me what to do and how to use pome granade or strawberryes to dye.
    You make a juice and then how many time stays and do you put water or other ingridients?
    thanks a lot.

  7. Moonbeam

    I absolutely LOVE the colour from dyeing wool with Syrian Rue! The yellow colour it makes just looks so.. mystical. And the alkaloids in the plant material impart a gorgeous blue-green when you put it under a blacklight. Working with this plant always makes me feel so positive and full of glowing energy. I made a beautiful blanket from wool, Syrian Rue, Acacia Confusa (rainbow tree bark) and dogwood bark and it is one of my favorite things I’ve made!

    Important note: if you are having trouble finding Syrian Rue, don’t buy it online where it can be upwards of ~$20 for 100 grams, just look in your local Middle Eastern market for ‘Wild Rue’ or ‘Esphand/Esfand’. It’s the same thing at a quarter of the price 🙂

    • tevin

      The dye was so awesome and its cool man. 🙂

    • William heckeroth

      Good day moonbeam. I had a quick question about acacia confusa aka rainbow tree bark. I was wondering if it washes out too easily and if one can really use it to make both red and yellow dyes? Any advice would be neat because it is hard to find resources on its uses as a dye and i enjoy hearing about personal experiences. Cant wait to hear back

  8. Annette


  9. Linda

    I have some red rocks from Wyoming and want to know if I can crush them and use them for a dye. Any thoughts, anyone?

    • Hannah

      They are most likely red due to iron content. If this is the case they will not produce a dye. You can make them into a pigment for paints, but the iron won’t bind with animal or plant fibers. Iron is used to alter the colors of dyes, so you could possibly use them in that respect.

      • Mury Ceo

        Good evening Linda,

        I know from personal experience that iron once on clothing is extremely difficult to get out. So personally I feel that if it is crushed and used for dye it would work quite well. Good luck!

        Mury Ceo

  10. Kellyn

    I don’t know if anybody’s asked this yet, but does the dyed fabric need to be washed separately forever or just during the first wash? (I apologize if this question has been asked..I tried to look for the answer in the comments and on other sites and couldn’t find it.)

    • Hannah

      Unfortunately it depends on the color fastness of the dye and or what mordant was used. Its generally just safer to always wash them separate.

  11. Keith

    Will natural dyes work on Leather as well?

  12. Cathy

    You missed one. Black walnuts. Cheap and easy and does not fade. I use to stain the baskets I weave.

  13. Jim

    Hi, I have some St. Johns Wort growing in my garden, just wondered if anyone could elaborate on it. Does the whole plant include the roots, which alcohol works best and for how long should it be soaked?

  14. Dawn

    I am teaching at a one room school house for the week. I would like to show the students how the pioneers would use natural dyes to color fabrics. I need to bring the dyes in with me. I can have the shirts soaking before we start dyeing to help adhere the color. The problem is that there is no heat source. Can I have the dyes in spray bottles and then let the shirts air dye? Any suggestions?

  15. Rachel S

    I have a bunch of unbleached muslin that I would like to dye but I’m worried about how the colors will turn out since it isn’t white. What do you recommend? Will certain plants produce a more vibrant color when using a fabric that isn’t white?

  16. Crystal

    It says when Turmeric is dipped in lye it will create a red color. My question is at what percentage should the lye solution be? Would 1% be strong enough or would it need more?

  17. Arm Span bulk of gathered plants from the wild is safety should toxicity be a consideration, edible dyes though, leaves are generally the safest.
    Can this be questioned?

  18. caitlin

    I bought a natural dye and it talks about using tin, alum, copper. Is this something that has to be used or is salt and vinegar just as good?

    • Laurin

      Alum is fine to use, it’s the same thing as pickling salt, but avoid the others as they are very toxic! They were widely used as late as the ’70s, but most natural dyers avoid them now because of toxicity concerns. Usually alum with a little cream of tartar will work beautifully.

  19. Sofia

    Love your ideas!!

  20. Deb

    after you dye your fabric do you throw out the dye that you used for the fabric to soak in? To my understanding what you don’t need you can put in a jar in the fridge for latter but was wondering about the other (used dye)

  21. tierra

    what plant from Utah?

  22. One of my elderly Greek neighbours, when her husband was quite ill, asked
    me not to cut the oregano flowers, so she could use the plant for dying.
    Deep brown-black from oregano

    Greek widows traditionally wear black, and not from purchasing a new

    She cut it when it when the stalks were completely dried on the plant.
    She didn’t use the seed heads only, but said they were important.

    Her husband, unfortunately, died that winter.

    — frances

  23. sartaj

    plz tell me any body how we can use above natural dyes for paper

    • pete

      Any/or all natural plant dyes can be used with paper…however the paper should be made from rag* or mulberry fibers, not wood. You will need a shallow basin or vat to “float” the paper into the dye batch. Lots of books out there on hand-crafted paper. *old cotton t-shirts work great.

  24. cathy

    Thanks for this information. For years I have been looking for something about natural dying. I have in the past used certain liquids for dying Aida fabric and had good results. As a herbalist this gives me more scope for the use of mother natures gifts.

  25. June

    Can beet juice be stored in jars in a cupboard for use later? Can all the food dyes be stored in a cupboard? I would like to make ahead and but in canning jars and store in the pantry till needed.Thank you

    • cathy

      June because these are natural dyes they can be stored in sealed jars for up to several weeks. As for beetroot of course they can but do not add water to them as this changes the colour of their dye to purple whereas beetroot juices is red. Found this out from a friend.

      • kate

        is it possible to freeze the dyes (in ice cube tray then seal in airtight container or vacuum sealed) then defrost amount needed?

  26. Jill

    When you talk about different plants and have (with alum) after it, what do you mean? And when is a mordant used? In the actual dye bath or when the fabric is in the fixative?

    • Pachouli

      Mordants are used before the dye bath. It allows dyes that don’t have a tannin in them already to adhere permanently to the fibers. The fixative you speak of should be the mordant, and should be applied before the dye bath, not after. Alum is a mordant and is usually used in conjunction with cream of tartar. Dyes made from coffee, tea, sumac and other plants that contain tannin (a natural mordant) do not need additional mordanting.

  27. su

    Thank you for sharing the many list of natural dyes. It will be very helpful for me in completing my assignment regarding natural dyes. I have a question to ask,would you mind answering it, your help will do wonders for me? How can I change grass into a sheet of non woven? Do I need to soak the grass in water, I am very puzzled about the method to turn it into a non woven.

    • cathy

      Su take a piece of ply wood and place grasses on in one discretion then add a new layer in the opposite direction. Do this several times then take a heavy book and place on top and allow to dry. This way it isn’t woven and yet becomes paper.

  28. Meredith

    Does anyone think this might work for human hair? I am personally interested in the purple and blue colours but every colour of the rainbow is nice to know for the future to change it up. A lot of people my age and ages all over, specifically want these results and are using bleaching or harmful toxic chemical products that damage the hair and I’m sure a lot would appreciate another all natural option, semi permanent or permanent.

  29. suzanne

    thanks for the extensive list! can’t wait to get started!

  30. k

    Will ginger stain-dye linen or hemp rope

    • Reagan Hutchinson


  31. Rebekah

    Thanks much for the list of natural dyes. Turmeric is a favorite of mine, and I was unaware that lye gave reds in a turmeric dye bath. I will be trying it!

  32. Leanne

    Have been using plants to colour and paint paper with primary children in nature club but wanted to know how to fix the colour with materials. Red cabbage is amazing as is red onion and elderberry – all home grown. Can’t wait to try some of these plant on paper and fabric. Is is absolutely necessary to simmer the fabric in the dye or will it be successful in just warm liquid?

  33. jacob

    whats the Fixatives measurements for the rusty nail (black). its not a plant or berry’s fixative


  34. Laura

    Accidentally discovered that rose petals will dye fabric.

    • Pachouli

      Oops. 😀

  35. Kirsty Smith

    Really happy to find this site as I need to dress my daughter as a bonfire and didn’t fancy buying loads of different fabrics. I haven’t natural dyed since I was a small child and had forgotten the different plants and results. I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into this project now!

  36. Janine

    Just dyed some wool with peony flowers and came up with a beautiful pale lime green color.

  37. Betsy

    New to this, thanks for all of the great info.
    Saw some unusual purple berries, in my yard, falling off of japanese yew. They made great dye for paper, but discovered afterwards that everything about this plant except for ripe berries is poisonous. Since I cooked the berries (microwave)with the seeds still attached I am carefully cleaning all of my prep equipment. I’m not sure about the hazards but the color is amazing. Deep blueberry/ grape juice purple.

  38. renuka taneja

    hi wonderful site .. wanted to know how to add the mordant .. alum is anordant right .. does one soak it in alum water before the dye bath … do let us know the process in detail .. i work wih kids and would like to experiment with them … does one put glycerine/castor oil in the colour … i had heard from someone that they do do that .. take care renuka

  39. Jamie

    Kool-aide is an acid dye and only dyes protein based fabrics (wools, silks, human hair) it will only stain natural fabrics (cotton, linen) and will wash out over time. Kool-aide has to be at least 170 degrees F to adhere.

  40. Meredith

    Thanks for the great list! In addition, Meadowsweet makes an amazing black dye.

    • Bill E.

      Tried dandelion today. Gathered about 1/2 gallon “yellow heads” and simmered in water an hour over a fire; mordant for napkin-sized linen was one-part vinegar to 8 parts water in a separate simmer. It’s still in the dye pot as I write this, but pulling it out and looking at it…well, no magic and no color change. Water is black. Only thing I can think of it that the pot was too rusty and overwhelmed the dandelions. I’ll check it tomorrow.

      Staghorn sumac are flowering here, so I’ll give that a go later this week, looking for a light red. Did it a few years ago with the leaves and got a nice blue-gray on linen.


    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for

  42. Amanda O.


    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.

  43. Lydia M.

    Avocado as a natural dye, light pink

    Apparently a pink hue can be obtained from skin and seed of avocado.

    • sarah Matthess

      I have tried Avacado skin and seed, dried, and fresh. Never could get any decent colour. Just a dirty brown. How are you getting pink?

  44. Barbara Lee Gates

    A Permanent Black Dye

    If you want an indelible black dye for material, use the juice from the TEXAS BLACK persimmon fruit.

    The juice out of the fruit is clear light amber like honey, but when it gets on any fabric it will turn it
    dark black when it dries on the fabric.

  45. Joanna S.

    Natural Yellow Dye

    Hi, your site is so helpful!

    The inner pith of Sumac branches can produce a super bright yellow color. Also, the berries are both a grey and a yellowish color. I didn’t not use any mordents for these, and I steeped them for about 2 days in a hot bath, but the color was great.
    Thanks for the info on all the rest!

  46. Jill

    Oxalis Cornuta

    Hi there – you might like to add that if the oxalis flowers are fermented (OK I forgot them) 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! – happy dyeing

  47. SUS McB.

    Plants for Dyeing

    Have just had a look at your list of plants and could not see any mention of Eucaluptus leaves and bark which give beautiful shades of tan, orange and brown.


    Natural Dyes
    I dyed some yarn yesterday with hydrangea flowers in an alum mordant. I also added some copper and it came out a beautiful celery green.

  49. BY ROSIE

    Natural Plant Dyes

    I just stumbled upon your site and the page about dying. i have done a lot of natural dying myself and as a rule if you can eat it it wont give a very good colour and the colour it does give will not last, especially if the cloth is exposed to light. You suggest various berries for example, the colour on the cloth that these give will go grey very quickly. Onion skins however give a very good orange, the colour does fade over time though. I would also suggest woad for blue, it is still available if maybe a bit more expensive and gives a great colour, a bit smelly to work with perhaps!

    Great site, it would be great if we dyed out own fabric more often in this world.

  50. AINE

    Marigold Flower

    The petals of the Marigold flower make a great yellow!

Leave a comment