Natural Dye from Flowers: A Dye Garden Plant List

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If you want to use natural dyes in your projects and on your fabrics, you need… dye! One of the best ways to attain natural dyes is dye from flowers. Grow your own plant dyes right in your own garden with this dye garden plant list.

If you’re dipping your toe into natural dyeing and enjoying it (it’s fascinating, right?), then it’s time to dip your whole foot in by growing your own dye garden. And if you’re already a gardener, well, half the battle is already eliminated because all you’ll need to do is add a few dye plants to your established garden.

Note: You can use many different plants from flowers to trees and herbs to fruits and vegetables for natural dye. Today, I’m simply focusing on flowering plants you can grow to get dye from flowers.

Natural dyeing is a fun and rewarding activity that yields some amazing and unique results. I’m diving in and showing you the different aspects of natural dyeing to help make your learning curve a lot smaller than mine was! You can also check out this post on how to use natural dyes to dye fabrics safely.


Gardening to Get Dye from Flowers

When it comes to growing a dye garden, the good news is that you don’t need to create a separate garden to grow your dye plants. Instead, you can simply incorporate them into any existing beds or borders you already have.

In fact, if you love growing plants, you likely already have a few dye plants growing!

Of course, growing plants is just the first step of natural dyeing. If you want to dye your fabrics and yarns naturally, you’ll need to learn about mordanting in order to make your dye stick to your fiber permanently.

Storing Plant Dyes

With a flower garden, just as with a vegetable or fruit garden, you likely won’t gather enough material all at one time to use for your project, so you’ll need to store it until you do.

Once you have gathered enough material to fill your dye bath, then you can begin dyeing. To save your material until you have enough, preserve flowers in the freezer.

Dye Garden Plant List

Use this list (broken down by color categories) to help you pick and choose which flowers you want in your dye garden.

Yellow Plant Dyes

These flowers are best for getting those beautiful yellow colors. Since natural dyes can vary quite a bit, you may get anything from tan to pale yellow to orange in this group. Even green (depending on the plant part used – or by mixing with blue!) 

I’ll be a little more specific with regard to each plant listed.

Yellow fabric soaking in a dye bath.

Yarrow 

Yarrow is a flowering perennial in the aster family with bright yellow flowers, native to the northern hemisphere. Yarrow is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and looks lovely planted in full sun perennial beds or borders. Yarrow will also bloom all summer long.

Bunched yarrow sprigs on a white background.

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: Yellow, white, pink, red, orange

Bloom Time: Spring-fall

Plant Part to Use: Leaves and stems

Best mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Yellow

Learn More: See our complete guide on growing yarrow

Bloodroot 

Bloodroot is a perennial flowering herb that’s native to eastern North America. Some natural dyes can turn different colors depending on which mordant you use. Bloodroot is one of them. 

With no mordant, bloodroot gives a lovely orange color. However, with alum, it gives a rust color, and with tin, it gives a reddish-pink color.

Bloodroot blooms and leaves on a white background.

Botanical Name: Sanguinaria canadensis

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: White

Bloom Time: Spring

Plant Part to Use: Roots

Mordant to Use: None, alum, or tin

Dye Color: Varies based on which mordant you use

Black-Eyed Susan 

Black-Eyed Susans are wildflowers in the aster family native to North America. Using the leaves and stems, you get a yellow or orange dye. However, using the flowers gives an olive green dye.

Closeup of a black eyed Susan flower in bloom

Botanical Name: Rudbeckia hirta

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: Gold

Bloom Time: June-October

Plant Part to Use: Leaves and stems (for gold or orange); flowers (for olive green)

Mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Depends on the part of the plant you use (see above)

Learn More: See our guide on how to grow Rudbeckia from seed to flower.

Dyer’s Coreopsis 

Dyer’s Coreopsis is also in the Aster family and can be used for plant dyes. It’s an annual that’s native to North America and can grow just about anywhere with full sun, even in poor soil. 

Closeup of a Dyer's Coreopsis flower.

Botanical Name: Coreopsis tinctoria

Type of Plant: Annual

Flower Color: Gold, maroon bicolor

Bloom Time: Midsummer

Plant Part to Use: Flowers, whole plant

Mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Gold, orange, rusty red

Zinnia 

Zinnias are annuals that are typically grown for their beautiful flowers to put in flower arrangements. 

A pink zinnea flower on the stem.

Botanical Name: Zinnia elegans

Type of Plant: Annual

Flower Color: Red, orange, pinks

Bloom Time: Summer-frost

Plant Part to Use: Flowers

Mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Beige and tan

Reds

Red plant dyes can vary from light pink to rust to purples. Huge variance, right? Plus, as you may have already noticed, some plants can provide wildly different dye colors depending on which part of the plant you use.

A bundle of fabric after being dipped in pink dye.

Alkanet

Alkanet is a biennial herb in the borage family noted for its blue flowers and the red dye from its roots. 

An alkanet sprig on a white background.

Botanical Name: Anchusa offinicinalis

Type of Plant: Biennial

Flower Color: Blue

Bloom Time: Mid-summer

Plant Part to Use: Roots

Mordant to Use: None

Dye Color: Red

Dyer’s Woodruff

Ornamental tiny white flowers with an airy growth habit similar to Baby’s Breath.

A sprig of Dyer's woodruff with white flowers in bloom.

Botanical Name: Asperula tinctoria

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: White

Bloom Time: Early summer

Plant Part to Use: Leaves

Mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Reds

Hollyhock 

A classic garden favorite: this flowering plant is in the mallow family and is native to Europe and Asia. It grows tall with large ruffled flowers that look like they were plucked out of an English cottage garden. The flowers are beacons for hummingbirds!

A Hollyhock stem with pink flowers in bloom.

Botanical Name: Alcea rosea

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: Dark rose, red, black

Bloom Time: Summer

Plant Part to Use: Light-colored flowers (for yellow, gold, or brown), dark-colored flowers (for lilac, purple, pink, and light reds) 

Mordant to Use: Alum 

Dye Color: Depends (see above)

Blues

Blues can vary quite a bit as well, but not seemingly as much as the yellows or reds do. Here are some common plants to grow for blue dye.

Blue dye being squeezed from fabric by hand.

Woad 

Woad is a flowering plant in the brassica family (think: cauliflower, broccoli) known for its leaves’ blue dye.

A woad sprig with yellow flowers in bloom.

Botanical Name: Isatus tinctoria

Type of Plant: Biennial

Flower Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: Spring

Plant Part to Use: Leaves

Mordant to Use: None

Dye Color: Blue

Indigo 

Indigo has been used for centuries for its deep blue dye. A part of the bean family, the plant dyes are found in the leaves. Indigo can grow as an annual in colder climates.

In indigo plant growing in a field.

Botanical Name: Indigofera tinctoria

Type of Plant: Shrub

Flower Color: Violet

Bloom Time: Summer

Plant Part to Use: Leaves

Mordant to Use: None

Dye Color: Indigo (deep) blue

Russian Sage

A hardy, beautiful plant that grows bush-like with spiky clusters of lavender flowers that are so abundant they almost completely obscure the leaves.

Russian sage is a beautiful plant to grow in and around your garden and yard. It makes a wonderful tea, dries and smells, and looks beautiful in bloom. It also makes a beautiful blue fabric dye.

Russian sage on a white background.

Botanical Name: Perovskia atriplicifolia

Type of Plant: Perennial

Flower Color: Lavender-purple

Bloom Time: Summer-frost

Plant Part to Use: Flowers

Mordant to Use: None

Dye Color: Blue

Bachelor’s Buttons 

These beauties, also known as cornflowers, are easy to grow, can be easily dried, and produce a beautiful blue dye.

A bright blue bachelor's button flower.

Botanical Name: Centaurea cyanus

Type of Plant: Annual

Flower Color: Pink, blue, purple, white

Bloom Time: Spring-fall

Plant Part to Use: Flowers

Mordant to Use: Alum

Dye Color: Blue

  • Learn More: Bachelor buttons are one of my absolute favorite flowers to dry. The color is retained very well and the flowers hold up for crafts and decorations. Check out our post on how to best dry flowers if you’re interested.

Final Thoughts on Dye from Flowers

This list is not an exhaustive one. Many other plants can be used as natural dye sources, including trees, fruits, vegetables, and more.

However, I think it’s really interesting to see that dye from flowers in your backyard garden can produce quite a rainbow of colors!

Are you interested in growing a garden?

We have many articles about growing flowers indoors, outdoors, and in containers: