Dye Plants for Eco Printing and Eco Dyeing

Introductory notes

The search for hidden colours, forms and textures is for me the lure of eco dyeing and eco printing, and a form of art. Eco dyeing and eco printing are essentially direct contact printing methods, drawing out pigments from plants to make interesting and often surprising marks on cellulose (cotton, linen) and protein (silk, wool) fibres, and not necessarily to dye yardage or yarns evenly. While traditional dye practices provide indispensable information and guidance for eco printing, not every colour available in a plant reveals itself in a traditional immersion dye pot.  Eco printing processes aim to use traditional dye plants in both old and new ways and to try plants not well known as dye sources.  Art, like science, reveals the invisible!

This page provides an “in-progress” alphabetical list of plants that I use successfully to eco print textiles and paper as described in my blog posts. The plants are garden-grown or foraged locally (in the Ottawa, Ontario area), with an emphasis on native plants for all North America, especially the north-east and that can also be grown in other parts of the world. I have given the common names in English and French, plus the scientific (Latin) names, noting briefly colours most often obtained in eco prints with alum mordant.

The page is organized by common plant name in English and features my photos of the plants. Currently, the list starts with ‘Alder’ and ends with ‘Walnut’, so it is a long scroll for you, dear Reader…

The textiles and papers pictured here were mostly pre-mordanted with alum acetate or potassium aluminum suphate, and sometimes co-mordanted or post-mordanted with iron (liquor or bits). The fibres printed were silk, wool, cotton and linen, and cotton rag watercolour paper, as noted.

Eco printing results vary according to many conditions – plant season, plant part used, processing time, water quality, pH level, mordant, processing method, fibre type (protein, cellulose or synthetic), etc.

Future pages (of which this one is parent) will be devoted in-depth to related topics: eco print processes, eco dye colours, mordants and gardens for eco dyes. In my definition (so far!) ‘eco dyes’ refer to the colours the plant can be induced to surrender, and ‘eco prints’ to the forms these dyes take on the substrate. 


My new and much smaller garden, my “kale yard”, started in the summer of 2014 after our downsizing-move in 2013. I am developing a garden of native plants with some favourite non-native plant introductions thrown in.

Above is one view of the front garden, with ‘Lacinato‘ kale (‘Dinosaur‘ kale, black kale), fronted by native and pollinator plants: great blue lobelia (Lobelia syphilitica), beside Sedum spectabilis ‘Autumn Joy’ and assorted hostas, with native species Monarda didyma and a yellow goldenrod in the background. In the back yard, shown in part below, I am developing a woodland feel with principally native shrubs and perennials: e.g.: big bluestem grass, bloodroot, cedar, clematis, goat’s beard, iris, rhubarb, serviceberry, Solomon’s seal, spiderwort, smokebush and sumac. With iron bedstead and no grass.


A photo of the plant and of sample eco prints accompany each entry on the list.

ALDER (Alnus incana)


French: Aulne; bois a rames.

DYE COLOURS: Orange-brown prints from the leaves.

ECO PRINT: Alder leaf on watercolour paper:

APPLE (Malus domestica)

Native species.

French: Pommier

DYE COLOURS: Teal blue-green from pink blossoms; yellow-green from leaves.


ECO PRINT: Hybrid ‘Royalty’ crabapple leaves and blossoms on paper.

Aronia/CHOKEBERRY  (Aronia melanocarpa)
French: Aronie noire, gueules noires.
DYE COLOURS: Blue-purple  from berries. Plant image coming when the snow disappears!


ECO PRINT: Aronia berries (blue) on silk with Acer palmatum and Prunus cistena leaves. A rusty saw-tooth blade gave the iron print:

FALSE (WILD) INDIGO, RATTLEBUSH (Baptisia australis)
Colours: DYE COLOURS: Fluorescent yellow eco print from leaves on silk.


ECO PRINT: Baptisia australis leaves hold a fluorescent yellow pigment. With the baptisia (below) is red from Coreopsis verticillata and blue from aronia berries (see above).

BASIL/Purple basil. (Ocimum basilicum var. purpurescens)

French: Basilique

DYE COLOURS: Purple-blue prints on cellulose and protein fibres



ECO PRINT: Purple basil with tagetes marigold (yellow) and eucalyptus (peachy-orange) on silk. Holes and burns come from microwaving bay leaves too long…

BIRCH(Betula papyrifera.)
Native. Paper birch, white birch

French: Bouleau blanc

DYE COLOURS: Leaves, inner and outer bark, catkins traditionally yield dye-pot colour; TBD


BLACKBERRY. (Rubus fruticosus).

Native species.

French: Ronce (Image, Wikipedia)

DYE COLOURS:Berries give blue-purple shades, known to be fugitive; leaves and stems give dark greens for eco prints; dark greys are reported for a traditional immersion dye pot.

File:Bee pollinating Blackberry.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ECO PRINT: Fall blackberry leaf on paper (lower left: under leaf; lower right, top side) Ep_BB_JM_Nov2011



French: Marguerite jaune; obéliscaire

DYE COLOURS:Yellows from flowers, greens from leaves and stalks



ECO PRINT: Black-eyed susan:

BLOODROOT (Sanguinaria canadensis)
French: Sang dragon; sanguinaire du Canada
Dye plant used by First Nations

DYE COLOURS: Intense orange-red from the juicy roots on protein or cellulose fibres.


Sanguinaria canadensis_closeup2

PLANT: Red roots

ECO PRINT: Bloodroot on silk jersey; grated red root with yellow-green dogwood (Cornus sericea), baptisia, geranium and cotinus leaves. Iron darks.

BORAGE  (Borago officinalis)
French: Bourrache officinale

DYE COLOURS: Flowers give blue dyes, especially when frozen.


ECO PRINT: Borage:

POT MARIGOLD , MARY BUDS, MARY’S GOLD (Calendula officinalis).


DYE COLOURS: Yellow-orange dyes from flowers.

PLANT: A new variety here, not the old fashioned calendula above.

ECO PRINT: Pot marigold

CARROT (Daucus carota)

French: Carotte

DYE COLOURS: Eco prints greeny yellow.


ECO PRINT: Carrot (with red cabbage) Yellow green from tops on paper, left. With red cabbage (blues and purples), right. Reported to be fugitive colours. Overlay the two for green.


CATALPA(Catalpa speciosa)
Native. French:

DYE COLOURS: Catalpa pods are tannin-rich and give substantive browns



ECO PRINT: Pods (tannin-rich) give deep brown lasting shades on wool. Catalpa pods print dark brown on wool (here with orange prints of Eucalyptus globulus)

CATMINT (Nepeta cataria)
French: Herbe à chats

DYE COLOURS: Blue flowers give teal blue-green.


ECO PRINT: Whole catmint plant, print on paper: like many blue blossoms, it will give a teal colour with alum:


CHOKECHERRY (Prunus virginiana).
‘Shubert’ and ‘Canada Red’ are varieties with red leaves.
French: Cerisier a grappes.

DYE COLOURS: Deep greens and near-blacks; also yellowish-brown from leaves; purple-blue from the black berries

PLANT (Red leaves, black berries):

ECO PRINT: Leaves print deep greens, greys and near-blacks, depending on season and substrate; yellows, too.

Fall leaves, green-black and yellow prints on paper, lasting shades.

ECO PRINT: Late summer leaves, green print on paper with other leaves:

COREOPSIS ( C. lanceolata, C. tinctoria, C.verticillata)

DYE COLOURS: Reds, oranges and deep yellow prints from blooms; C. verticillata: whole plant gives vivid scarlet red

C. lanceolata:


C. verticillata ‘Zagreb’ – threadleaf coreopsis: you can see why!


ECO PRINT: C. verticillata, print on linen with blue-green sumac: A mighty red!


ECO PRINT: C. verticillata with sumac, red apple slices and purple sandcherry twigs and leaves on silk:


CREEPING BELLFLOWER (Campanula rapunculoides)

French: Campanule raiponcette

DYE COLOURS: A lovely lavender blue print.

PLANT: Not a native, and an invasive weed for some gardeners, but a keeper in my garden.

ECO PRINT: Creeping bellflower:

DOGWOOD spp(Cornus alternifolia, C. canadensis, C. sericea, C. stolonofera and others)
Native. French: Cornouiller spp.

DYE COLOURS: Yellows and greens from leaves; reds and browns from twig bark.

PLANT: Oval, pointed and ribbed leaves on Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda dogwood). Red twigs on Cornus sericea.


ECO PRINT: Yellows
(Reds here are from grated bloodroot)



DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)
French: Dent-de-lion (“Lion’s Tooth”), Pis en lit (“Wet The Bed”)

I love this “green immigrant” – and eco dye garden beneficial

ECO PRINT: Dandelion on paper, below. With iron, you get a lovely olive green.

DYER’S BROOM (Genista tinctoria).
Green immigrant. It is a traditional dye plant for yellow, a Euro intro.

Mine died last year…RIP.

Try again this year!


ELDER (Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis)
French: Sureau blanc; sureau du Canada
Black berries give purple-blues reported as ‘fugitive’; leaves give yellow-green prints.


ECO PRINT: Elder leaves on silk with coreopsis verticillata; dark marks from iron print.
Iron extends the print life.


Exotic Florist Pet

I save branches that come in bouquets that Shlomo brings for Shabbat dinner.

Image shows round-leaved E. globulus “Baby Blue” and a seeded eucalyptus, name unknown to me.

DYE COLOURS:  Red to orange to yellow and brown with chartreuse thrown in


ECO PRINT: E.globulus on old wool ski socks: reds and green-yellows from the same plant!
Sweat as mordant gave the reds, maybe…same alum, same leaves, same wool!

FERN, OSTRICH (Mateuccia struthiopteris)


French: Fougère; ptérétide noduleuse.
DYE COLOURS: Greens, green-yellows

I am guessing this is ostrich fern. It came with the new garden!



ECO PRINT: Fern prints on paper: 2% iron water to shift the yellow greens to olive greens plus act as a mordant.

FIG (Ficus carica)

Exotic Potted Pet (Green Immigrant)

DYE COLOURS: Yellow-green eco prints sometimes reported as fugitive

(Aside: Interesting that the first (human) creative handwork reported in the Bible, post-Paradise, was a textile art:  Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to make clothing. The colours probably stained skin, too…)



I do not have a plant photo handy yet, or an eco print, so here meantime is a fig leaf I printed with acrylics:

GERANIUM/Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)

G. macrorrhizum, G. pratense, etc are perennial geranium hybrids and cultivars.  (The red ones in pots are pelargoniums.)

DYE COLOURS: Green and yellow-green eco prints from leaves and pinks and purples from pink blooms.



ECO PRINT: Geranium winter leaf print on paper: the yellow-green print (upper left) shifted to dark greys with an iron dip, post printing . (I dug the near-evergreen leaves from under the January snow).


GOLDEN MARGUERITE; Dyer’s Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)



DYE COLOURS: Golden yellow from flowers; chartreuse greens from leaves etc


GoldenMarguerite__________________________________________________________________________________GOLDENROD (Solidago spp.)

Native. (There are many, kinds of goldenrod, and I am collecting especially those that attract pollinators)

French: Verge d’or.  

DYE COLOURS: Flowers give yellow dyes and eco prints; leaves give green prints.


ECO PRINT: S. canadensis on paper:


GRAPE (Vitis riparia)
Native. Riverbank grape.
French: Raisin sauvage.

DYE COLOURS: Green-yellow from leaves; purple-blue from fruits.






Polychromatic dye (i.e., more than one colour, depending on the extraction process)





Hapzome_hypericumSmooshed hypericum petals:












Hypericum plant in alcohol to give red:





Native species: Oakleaf hydrangea

DYE COLOURS: Yellows from leaves; blooms, yellow from white “Annabelle”


ECO PRINT: Hydrangea leaves on paper: yellow-greens in spring with red cabbage (blues, purples)

IRIS  sp.

Native (?)
I. florentina; I. germanica; I. hybrida; I. siberica; I. versicolor.

Well adapted pioneer plants, with some irises thought to be native. (The Esteemed Lorraine Johnson says I. tenax is native) Quebec’s provincial emblem, the Fleur de Lis, is the Iris versicolor, native or not. Voilà, mes amis!wpid-Photo-2011-07-07-1105-AM.jpg

DYE COLOURS: A range of yellows, blues and greens; blue iris petal juice was traditionally used in the Renaissance painter’s palette for greens (See my main blog post for details): tall bearded iris ( a heritage variety):

PLANT: Iris hybrida, tall bearded iris ( a heritage variety):

Siberian iris:

ECO PRINT: Iris petals on paper; green cotton thread dyed with iris petal juice


ECO PRINT: Iris blooms on silk (later embroidered with green thread dyed with iris):


JAPANESE INDIGO (Persicaria tinctoria). (PS The BAD GUY is Japanese knotweed- Fallopia japonica – and an invasive species here in Canada)

DYE COLOURS: A blue-green vat dye; not your Usual Eco Dye Suspect.
(See my main blog posts for How To info on dyeing with Japanse indigo.)

PLANT: Home grown plants from donated  seeds.

VAT DYE: Japanese indigo dye on silk velvet: with Japanese maple, cotinus leaves, aronia berries and tansy buttons; the lucious turquoise is the dye colour.


JAPANESE MAPLE (Acer palmatum).

DYE COLOURS: Many colours of print are possible from this plant, depending on the season, the substrate, the mordant, co-prints and the colour of the leaves: e.g.: blues, greens, yellows, purples and even pinks. This Japanese maple in The Kaleyard (my front garden) is ‘Bloodgood’



ECO PRINT: Fall Japanese maple leaves: blues, purples and greens on paper with sweet gum and smokebush:


LILAC (Syringa spp.)

Not native but a beloved and well adapated Euro pioneer introduction.
French: Lilas

DYE COLOURS: Pink and blue lilac flowers often print teal blue-greens; lilac leaves print yellows and greens.

(Aside: ‘Prestonia’ lilacs now abound in Ottawa gardens; they are a hardy strain developed  by Isabella Preston at the Central Experimental Farm research station in Ottawa. Isabella did not get the credit from her male colleagues  for a long while…)

PLANT:  You can almost smell these lovelies 🙂

ECO PRINT: Lilac leaves and blossoms on paper:

MAPLE (Acer saccharum- sugar maple; A. saccharinum- silver maple)

French: Erable

DYE COLOURS: Prints yellowish-green alone but deep charcoal with iron on paper, cotton and silk.

Aside: The Canadian sugar maple is on our flag.


ECO PRINT: a silver maple leaf on a cotton tee-shirt, with rose leaves, iron-dipped:

ECO PRINT: Acer saccharinum (silver maple) with rusted iron on paper, linen and cotton:

OAK  (Quercus spp. )

French: Chêne.

DYE COLOURS: Rich yellow-tan brown


ECO PRINT: Oak leaf on paper with chokecherry

PANSY (Viola spp.)
French: Pensée.

Johnny Jump Up (pictured) is violette pensée in French

DYE COLOURS: Blue eco prints, especially from frozen petals


ECO PRINT: Pansy. Pink and purple (with yellow from tagetes) on vintage linen; prints darker and exudes more juice after freezing the petals; ditto for most fleshy blue petals.

PURPLE (RED) CABBAGE including KALE (Brassica spp.)
French: Choux

DYE COLOURS: Colours pH dependent; widely reported as fugitive. Towards magentas and purples in a more acid environment: lower than pH 7; towards blues and greens in a more alkaline environment: higher than pH7. Measured by pH strips or pH meter.

PLANT (in an immersion dye pot with an eco-bundle splashed with vinegar)

ECO PRINT: Purple cabbage (blues) with C. verticillata (reds, oranges) on paper. Fade alert: the colours of the brassica family are not permanent and cannot be made so. But the have lasted a few years on the papers shown below:

PURPLE SANDCHERRY (Prunus cistena)

Native spp.  Also P. nigra, P. pumila, P. serotina, P.virginiana.

French: Prunier, sauvage
DYE COLOURS: Ecoprints good dark greens and green-blues, especially on protein fibres.


ECO PRINT: Purple sandcherry leaves (L) with red coreopsis (R) on wool felt:

RED AMARANTH (Amaranthus spp.).
Native. (The famous Hopi red dye comes from one variety – not the one I can grow)


DYE COLOURS: Stains more that it dyes or prints on vintage linen. Under investigation by your author.



ECO PRINT: Red amaranth on vintage linen:

SMOKEBUSH (Cotinus obovatus)
Cotinus coggygria (purple smokebush) is the Euro cotinus with deep red leaves.

DYE COLOURS: Amazing colours from cotinus: orange, blue, green, yellow, brown, purple…depending. But some of them fade, especially the blues on linen and cotton (cellulose fibres). Older prints tend to brown out.


ECO PRINT: Purple smokebush.  Fall leaves on paper

ECO PRINT: Purple smokebush autumn-coloured leaves on gold-foiled silk:


ROSE (Rosa spp. )
Native species: R. blanda, R. carolina, R. rugosa, R. virginiana, etc

French: Rose 

DYE COLOURS: Leaves print green; olive or blue-black with iron .  

PLANT: ‘Bonica‘, a Z4 hardy hybrid.

ECO PRINT: Rosa rugosa on cotton:

ECO PRINT: Green Rosa rugosa leaves on paper with blue from chokeceherry fruit:

SAFFLOWER. (Carthamus tinctorius)
French: Carthame.

DYE COLOURS: Dried petals ecoprint yellow  on silk; other dye colours obtained using a different immersion and pH manipulation processes. See below.

Dried petals are a saffron substitute (“American saffron”) obtained in the spice section of a Mid East grocery store.) Seeds are widely used for bird seed and are said to deter squirrels.


IMMERSION DYE: Coral pinks on cotton and silk in the dye pot:

Safflower is a special case. The pink, yellow and orange dyes come from the same petals as a result of an interesting and challenging process (See my main blog for more info on the process)

SASKATOONBERRY (Amelanchier alnifolia)
French: Bois de flèche; Saskatons, poire

DYE COLOURS: Berries print blue. Used by some First Nations to dye baskets and arrows.


ECO PRINT: Saskatoonberries in the freezer for stronger purple-blue prints

SERVICEBERRY(Amelanchier arborea; A. laevis; A. canadensis )

French: Amelanchier du Canada

DYE COLOURS: Fall leaves (multicoloured) print shades of brown, tan and reddish brown with yellow on paper. I could not bear to eco print the tasty berries…just shared them with the birds right off the bush.


PLANT: Serviceberry flowers

ECO PRINT: Red and brown serviceberry leaves (winter, frozen) eco print on paper:

STRAWBERRY (Fragaria virginiana)
Native species. Wild strawberry.
French: Fraisier des champs. Bear food!

DYE COLOURS: Pink prints, fugitive; leaves, a good yellow-green print on paper


ECO PRINT: Strawberry

STAGHORN SUMAC (Rhus typhina) 
French: Vinaigrier; sumac vinaigrier.

DYE COLOURS: Green and yellow green eco prints from leaves; teal-blue  or charcoal grey or black with iron. Pinks and light reds from the berries

Sumac is a traditional dye plant, providing light yellow in the dye pot; also a source of tannin for mordanting cellulose fibres. 

R. typhina


PLANT: Sumac berries

ECO PRINT: Sumac on paper:

ECO PRINT: Dried sumac berries on paper:


 (Liquidambar styraciflua)

DYE COLOURS:  Ecoprinted fall sweet gum leaves: greens, yellows, purples, browns, even pinks
PLANT (shown with eucalyptus):


: Sweet gum leaves on paper with Japanese maple:


French: Oeillet d’Inde

Orange-yellow prints from petals; green from calices.

Traditional dye-pot plant

ECO PRINT: Tagetes on silk habotai with red cabbage (blues):

TANSY  (Tanacetum vulgare)

French: Tanaisie, tanzé

(T.vulgare is the Euro intro; the native is Tanacetum huronense,  but rare.)
DYE COLOURS:  Yellow from tansy ‘buttons’; green from leaves

Tansy is a traditional dye-pot plant

PLANT: Tansy leaves (ferny ones, on the right)with elder (left) and black eyed susans (yellow):

ECO PRINT: Tansy (See also tansy buttons with the Japanese indigo, previous)

TULIP (Tulipa spp.)
French: Tulipe

Aside: Thank you, Holland: Ottawans love their tulips! The Queen of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa during 1939 -1945 war and her daughter was born here. Afterwards, Holland sent millions of tulips every year to Canada as a thank-you. Ottawa has an annual Tulip Festival every May in celebration

DYE COLOURS: From various petal colours on paper: eco printed greens, teals, yellows, pinks, purples:


ECO PRINT: Tulips on paper,  crazy colours from spent petals and black stamens:wpid-Photo-2011-05-16-508-PM.jpg

VIOLETS (Viola sp. )
Native: Viola canadensis (white), v. labradorica (purple-green leaves, blue flowers); V. pubescens (yellow), V. sororia (blue)


DYE COLOURS: Blue petals print teal green-blue on paper; heart-shaped leaves print green. The white ‘Canada violet’ prints yellow or yellow-green. To be honest, I am not quite sure what the name if this blue violet is – maybe V. sororia?


ECO PRINT: Violet leaves and blooms on paper: teal colours from blue petals:

VIRGINIA CREEPER (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)


French: Vigne vièrge.

DYE COLOURS:: Berries give a fugitive blue-purple in an eco print; leaves, a wimpy yellow-green. Reported as fugitive in the traditional dye pot and even a no-show. Under investigation by your author. Iris Dulman, eco-printer extraordinaire and generous teacher, makes wonderful prints with this plant.


ECO PRINT: Virginia creeper:

BLACK WALNUT (Juglans nigra)
French: Noyer noir.

Black walnut is a traditional dye-pot plant, no mordant needed (it is a substantive dye)

DYE COLOURS: Fruit gives lasting browns from the green husks in fall; leaves, rich yellows in late summer, early fall

PLANT (leaves and nuts)

ECO PRINT: Walnut leaf on vintage linen: Juglans regia, actually, from Italy.

ECO PRINT: Black walnut (Juglans nigra) green husk: centre panel, on felted wool.
Blues and greens from Prunus virginiana, reds and oranges from coreopsis.

WILLOW (Salix spp.)
Native. S. alba, s. nigra, etc

French: Saule spp.
DYE COLOURS: Yellowish-tan eco print without iron.


ECO PRINT: Willow leaves on paper; dipped in iron water to darken the print.


Spring plants ready for eco printing on sumac-dyed (yellow) linen:


201 thoughts on “Dye Plants for Eco Printing and Eco Dyeing

  1. Wow this is a wonderful reference, thank you for all your hard work documenting this. I’m looking forward to doing some dying when we settle in our new house and this will be really useful.

      1. Hi Wendy

        jsut four your site oh so lovely. Can you tell me when I have sat my linen in salt water do I put the leaves and plants on when the linen is wet or dry – before I roll up and or tie and then immerse into water to heat? much appreciated

      2. No salt water at all, Denise. Read the tutorial section on my blog for a quick start to your printing then take some time to read the blog posts.FYI, linen must be very well scoured before eco printing to enable pugment take-up. No use to try to print straight onto new natural without removing the natural plant gums or whatever is in the fibre. They act as barrier to the dye so your print will be weak if you do not scour the linen



      3. Hi, I finally did a bit of eco printing onto paper and it was great. Only trouble is I tried to overdye it and washed out a lot of the initial colour! Never mind, lesson learnt. I’ve just had a session with some children today, haven’t opened up the bundle yet so hope they’ll come out well for them. I will be returning often I think for inspiration from your wonderful site. I put some photos here, not sure if you’ll be able to see them?

        Hope things with your beloved are not too bad?

    1. Thank you, Lillemore. Probably you have some plants that we do not have here for eco prints. The local, regional experiences are so interesting



    1. Thank you, Mary! In return, I looked at your doings in eco printing – wonderful, too! O, that delectable Southern Cross euca red! The northern hemisphere up my way has coreopsis and bloodroot but in nowwhere near as plentiful and year-round supply as the eucalyptus.

      1. We are so lucky! But your sumac, service berry and smoke bush… Are all lovely too. I love the way this technique allows detailed investigation of what is local.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I have just started to experiment with eco-dying & will be referring to your info a lot this summer.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Darlene. I have put up a new page – ongoing – with info in order of dye colour, more or less the same plants as in the page you visited. Hope you get some good prints!


    1. I know you will get some great results from your experiments, Melinda! Let us know of any plants you think could work for your climate and mine


  3. Wonderful resource! Does anyone know of classes or group doing eco printing in California. I am looking for more info.

  4. Thank you for sharing all of your exploration with various plants.
    I am wondering how long these pigments will last on the fabric, and most likely, one can not wash the fabric?

    1. Thanks for your question, Yumiko!
      Yes, you can wash the fabric after eco printing. I like to leave the print for a while before doing that; in fact, I have left some fabrics to “cure” for as long as a year! The light- and washfastness of the eco dye pigments is variable, depending on many factors. For safe and reliable practice, I consult several traditional dye manuals but be aware that traditional dyers have differing views! Nevertheless, the info there is precious! Some dyes will fade more quickly than others, depending on the fabric dyed, the plant pigment and the mordant or dye assistant used. For example, a dip in iron liquor or ferrous sulphate solution at 2% weight of fibre will greatly extend the life of the print; but it will also change its colour to a darker version. I know many people think that alum as mordant is not needed for “eco” practice, but in my view, the use of alum not only helps to fix the colour of the print, it also extends the life of the print. When you wash a wearable textile, use a pH balanced soap such as we find in a baby shampoo. If the soap’s pH is too high or too low, the natural colours can change dramatically. And never use vinegar! The acid can change the colour. Store the eco dye print out of the light. Use the traditional way to test light fastness: tape a printed textile to the window where it gets strong light. Cover most of the textile with a piece of thick card. Each day for a week or two, or even more, move the card a bit so that more of the textile is revealed. Write the dates on the card in columns at the back. You can see th effects of the sunlight. Make a note of the plant dyes you have used and any changes you observe.

  5. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog and this page in particular, so much wonderful, helpful information! You mention an iron dip? Is that just want it sounds like? Make some iron water and dip it? For how long? Thank you!
    P.S. I wish your blog had categories so I could more easily navigate. You might be able to change that — instead of showing the dates, you can change that to showing the categories, I think.

    1. Thanks for the navigation tips, Elaine! must look into some blog dusting and clenaing one of these days! Re iron, yes just dip the plant material in iron water or if you like soak it..experiment, take time to research and try stuff…what you find may work better for you…after teh basics that you find on my blog, the rest is up to you

  6. I’m just adding my appreciation to the long list. While I understand this is an experimental process, it’s great to have some general idea of where to start!

    1. Thank you, Brenda!

      When wading in for the first time, check out the plants that are known to be poisonous (eg Lily of the Valley) and avoid them like the plague, no matter what recommendations you find in the trad. dye lit. Other plants can induce adverse reactions – e.g. Ruta graveolens – but not in everyone. Although I love that latter plant, I cannot have it in my garden anymore. The mere scent of it makes me ill! And a garden helper this summer had a very bad skin rash after touching it. So do your Dye Pot Due Diligence.

  7. Thank you so much for this inspiring information! I just happened upon this page and am fascinated by the technique. I will look on your blog for instructions on how to. In Costa Rica we have a lot of different plants I will be experimenting with and am very excited. I thank you again for inspiring me at this time when I was looking for inspiration. Blessings. Carmel

    1. Gracias, Carmel!

      I do not know the plants of Costa Rica. How interesting to learn their properties via eco printing! Just be sure you inform yourself about those that might give you adverse reactions or that are known to be poisonous to everyone. Maybe you can post some images of your experiments!

    1. You are welcome, Jo! I am enjoying sharing the experiments I do and glad others can benefit. Most of what I have learned is thanks to others who have reported their work. We pay it forward


  8. What a wonderful resource thank you so much for sharing all your hard work. I am new to eco dyeing and am very interested. I will look up your blog for more. Thanks, Diana

  9. Thank you for such a brilliant post. I’m new to Eco printing and you have given me the confidence to have a go and experiment.
    Katie : )

  10. Wonderful work Wendy! I am a horticulturist and you have devoted lots of attention and detail to this paper. Et en francais aussi, bravo!

  11. Thank you, Wendy, for such full information! I’m from Russia and we have most of these plants too (especially thanks for Latin names). We tryed to used some of them (oak leaves, for example), but now I know much more!

  12. I am wondering if dried flowers/leaves will work? Or if plants picked a few days before will work? Do some plants work better on silk or cotton, or should most of the plants work on both?

    Thank you


    1. Yes and yes but it depends so experiment: these are the honest answers to your first two q’s, Tricia.
      For answers to the second two: slogging through the blog is the only way until I write my book with am index!
      Look at the “cloud”of tags on my blog and follow the ones that tell you the basics of natural dyeing; or buy a book – look at my list of references.

      Good luck!


  13. Thank you for the informative posts. It’s so important that as creatives these techniques are shared and not forgotten in our busy lives. I’m wanting to know how I can make my Eco prints much more clear, with sharper edges? I’m using habotai silk and my materials are mixing between eucalyptus, onion skins, gorse flowers and whatever else I can get my hand on! I do hot bundle extraction in a bath or steam with pre mordant and dry fabric. I can never seem to get sharp edges or grainy veins however. Thank you from Down Under xx

  14. I found your blog a few weeks back and am so happy I did. I’m right now using your list against the list from my local horticulture center and making a list for my soon to be dye garden! I’m glad so many of what you have up there in Canada works down here in the middle of the US. I just bought a house this year and have wanted to do more gardening and have a perfect spot for it since so many of the plants can handle partial shade!

    I’ll be looking at what native peoples of this region used for dyeing as well.

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your knowledge and experience and doing so in such an organized way!

  15. Great idea to have your own garden of dye plants! Try the native plants in different areas of your garden even if they are recommended for full sun or full shade

    1. The usual way to remove any substance in the cloth before dyeing is to scour it: boil the cloth with washing soda for about an hour. This removes many chemicals that have been processed with the cloth during manufacturing. For vintage cloth, the same procedure is effective. As for your “flower latex” – I do not know what that is – I do know that poppy blooms emit latex. is that what you mean?

      1. Where I can share image to you? I forgot the specifi name for that problem. But maybe I can show you some images about what I mean. Sorry for that.

    2. Plant cell wall has a film like layer called pectin. When you did the leaves in Water mixed with acetic acid for 20 minutes it does open up the pectin. You must wipe the leaf and remove excess water. Then the leaf imprint comes out very well.

      1. Hello Wendyfe:
        I love this blog I’m a felter and would like to use eco dyeing on the wearable art i make
        I live in Southern Colorado
        Where could I get eucaliptus sideroxylon leaves
        Are ther other leaves available I could buy ???
        I’m from Argentina and I remember eucaliptus trees with red bark
        Thank you so much

  16. I’d like to add my thanks to the voices here – this is a fantastic resource and your generosity in sharing your knowledge and results is really appreciated. I feel a new calendar needed: one that helps me make the most of my garden here in New Zealand. I’ve already missed the boat for irises this year but the marigolds look like providing a bumper crop.

    1. Thank you so much, Penny, for your comments. I do plan soon to keep my promise to update the reference lists for plants. Unfirtunately this spring, I lost my husband so many personal plans were shelved, including art and garden projects. But because creative work gives me strength and inspiration, I hope to get back to reporting on them soon. I must say that I have been very surprised to realize that even though I have not made an entry in nearly a year, readers like yourself continue to consult my blog for reference and to sign up for subscriptions.

      This shows me that I can share what I love to a readership that really wants to learn about ecoprinting and can often use my info for their own purposes in their own part of the world. I truly appreciate your telling me that you find the blog helpful. It encourages me to pick up my “pen” again.

      1. Wendy- I did a double-take on this paragraph of yours- I found your info after looking around for ways to eco print the flowers from my husband’s funeral. I lost him almost 3 weeks ago now and am trying to process it all using art. What a terrible thing for us to have in common but I hope it helps you to know that you’ve been helping me with my grieving process, too. Wishing us both peace-

      2. Hello Liz

        Thank you so much for sharing. I think we will never end the grieving of the loss of our beloved but I find that even in the short time since he has died, the absence has become almost a familiar presence in itself. So he is always with me. i do hope you find comfort in creative work and in friends and in reaching out to comfort others in their loss as you have done in your message to me. Yes to peace and to the belief that we will one day be reunited with our beloveds

      3. Liz – I think I got mixed up in my replies. Maybe the tears in my eyes were responsible. Thank you for sharing. O yes, we need time to heal and art helps. But there will always be a hole there…I think I read recently an author who noted that even the resurrected Jesus still had His wounds – but transfigured. May it be so for us.

    2. Good luck with the marigolds, Penny. Re the irises: maybe you can try making paper with the leaves as you go into fall/winter? The liquid from processing the leaves for paper gives a lasting green, too. Yes, you are right about the need for a dye plant calendar! Yes, different times of the year are optimal for plants, and the same plant will give different colours at different seasons. Some of the older trad dye books make notes like that



  17. Wendy, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, and I hope 2017 will be full of art and garden projects to fill you with strength and inspiration for the future. Thanks again for everything you share!
    I love this page with pictures of the plants and their prints. Our local species also give similar results to others in their family which you showed here. The crackerberry Cornus canadensis makes lovely prints yellow, green and black with iron. Our chuckleberry (Amelanchier) also gave me brown prints from red autumn leaves, but I did get some purplish reds from red pincherry leaves (as well as chocolatey browns), which pleased me no end. We have a mushroom here for red or pink dye (Cortinarius semisanguineus) but I find these warm colors tended to clash with the more subtle ecoprint palette. Now I have used your tips to get charcoal-black maple and pincherry prints on the pink background…. harmony! 🙂 Best wishes and thanks again.

    1. Thank you Steph. Do post your website if you have one so we can indulge in your colours! I love all the different names we have given to our native plants in various parts of the country! and reports of colours.



  18. Thank you for this wonderful resource…readers and experimenters like me will return to it again and again.
    I’m about to embark on some systematic experiments with blackberry leaves…interestingly, even though this winter in Vancouver brought much colder temperatures than normal (not to mention the snow!) lovely robust blackberry leaves lasted through and are there for the harvesting!
    I’m very sad to hear of your personal loss and hope that the blossoming of 2017 will bring the salve of art with it.

  19. So glad to find this treasure trove of printable plants! I’m new to this type of artwork, although I paint, but can’t wait to start now xx

  20. thank you for this wonderful reference information. I am just beginning the exciting process of eco dyeing and the plants are starting to bloom, trees beginning to leave. Can’t wait to get started.

    1. Be warned, Sandra: this is a potential addiction…glad you found some useful refs; I am hoping to add more later in the year

      Thank you for you words of appreciation!


  21. Thank you so much for this incredibly informative & inspiring resource! I’m so thrilled to find this information specific to plants in my area; how lucky! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences & experiments with such detail. This is such a generous gift of your time & knowledge. Can’t wait to branch out my natural dye experiments into eco printing.

  22. Wendyp I loved the work and I need your help regarding my thesis project.I want few samples of eco dyeing and rust dyeing.Please let me know if you could help me out with this.Thanks

    1. Hi Sidra

      It is not difficult to make your own samples with very basic equipment in a kitchen and you should do that. I am an artist and I sell my work at gallery prices;therefore, I do not give samples. However, I like to be generous in telling people how to do eco printing on their own. Look at my tutorials and read my blog to discover some of the methods, materials and plants that can be used anywhere in the world. You can eco dye/print and rust dye on cloth or paper. The results will depend on the materials used as receiving surfaces for the prints, the plants available to you, the mordants and dye assistants used and the methods and time for the processes. Every piece will be different because each of these variables will react together in only marginally predictable ways. For a thesis you need original work and first-hand experience with the materials and processes.You need to keep precise and very full records. Every eco print artist has her/his own ways with the basics and many of their techniques and methods are sure to be proprietary – in other words,some of the information you might want will not be disclosed but will be kept private. You should be ready as a researcher to do a lot of digging.
      I would be glad to help with answering your questions if the info you want is not on my blog. Please be aware that I expect people to read the blog so will not answer basic questions like ” What kind of mordant did you use ? ” or ” What is eco printing and how do you do it? ” because this info is on written up my blog already.

  23. Hi Wendyp, thank you for all the informations and experiences you share!
    I’m italian, and I’m experimenting since 3 months with ecoprinting on cotton and silk.
    In Italy I can get few informations about it!
    A friend of mine brought me from the seaside lots of eucalipto leaves, the long shaped ones. I used iron mordant with them and got pale green/yelllow print on a silk fabric. Quite nice. I would like to get the red color as I can see often printed with theses leaves. Can you help me to understand witch kind of mordant or process should I use to obtain that color on silk and linen?
    Thank you so much in advance

    1. Hello Luciana! Thank you for your comment and question about eucalyptus. This leaf gives many shades of orange, red, yellow or green. Even purple! It is not native to Europe or North America but has adapted successfully there. The tree has a curious characteristic of sometimes giving different dye colours from its leaves depending on which side of the tree one gathers the material. This is an observation made by many dyers eg in Australia, New Zealand as well as California and elsewhere. Also dye colour obtained may depend a lot on the species and the specifics of plant culture. So the first step in discovering which variety of euca might dye red: find the complete botancical name. Eucalyptus globulus and eucalyptus cinerea are two plants commonly available to me here in Canada but only at a flower shop! Too cold to grow it outside. From these two I gave obtained the colours mentioned above – no mordant, long long processing ( at least an hour or two) , very close contact between plant and substrate, and using silk or wool (i,e. Protein fibres). If you add iron as a modifier to the dye bath the colour will shift but not usually to red – more often to dark green or charcoal. For myself, my practice has evolved in the direction of using native North American plants to obtain local colour; I use the euca dye for fun experiments only because I cannot grow it outside here in Ottawa. Good luck! I found Eucalyptus globulus growing in gardens around Assisi when I stayed there in 2013

      1. I’m so happy of your answer! Thank you!
        Tonight I’ll do my experiment with a piece of wool I have.
        Assisi is a very nice City, lots of art there! I have friends living nearby next to the lake of Trasimeno and we visit them every year, I love Umbria!
        I will surely write you back to share my the results,
        thank you again

    1. I do not know of any plant that will safely print black directly by the contact printing technique. In natural dyeing traditions, whole cloth is dyed black by using more than one dye plant colour in succession. You can approximate black in eco dyeing by adding iron to the plant collection you wish to dye – plants that are rich in tannins will give shades of black or dark grey or charcoal when combined with iron.

  24. Hi Wendy, just want to let you know how much I enjoyed this page. It’s beautiful represented and easy to understand what you have achieved. It will be a great resource for me here in Australia to recognize plants to print with in my neighbors gardens. My own garden is all planted with native Eucas to get mainly orange prints. It is such an enjoyable hobby!

    1. Thank you, Gisela. I hope to update my plant list this summer! I am growing euca in a pot just as a pet. I am looking at Canadian native plants to give red and orange – though the Aussie euca is seductive!


    2. Thank you Gisela. Your part of the world has a lot of plants good for eco dyeing reds and oranges which are harder to obtain here. That is a great challenge, though, to use what we have and what we can find easily and safely and to get our çreative juices flowing in the experiments



  25. Thanks for the wonderful resource! I was thrilled when I realized you are in Ottawa, and references apply to Ontario ~ Anne in Peterborough

    1. That’s great you are nearby, Anne! When I began eco print/dye work some years ago, there was only one other artist Canada actively sharing on the internet about their research. If there were others, they were not publishing at the time. Now there are many more in Canada and across the world. I have not been blogging since my husband died in spring 2016 but am now on the point of resuming. During my absence from the blogosphere, I saw to my suprise that people continued to look at the blog and become followers. What I realized was that the resources on my site are the most useful and will always be when you are starting out on your own journey. There were not a lot when I began and no-one to answer questions unless I did my own experiments. Now there are FB pagess and websites galore! But the bioregionàl plant focus is and has always been my primary interest in eco printing- exotica belongs elsewhere. Thank you for your visit and maybe drop by if you are in Ottawa!

  26. Dear Wendy, on a textile art market in Warmond (Netherlands) I got inspired by beautiful eco printed scarves and cards.Searching online for eco printing information I found your dedicated, detailed and very helpful information. Over the past few months I have experimented with ecoprinting on cotton rag paper and silk with flowers and leaves from my direct living environment. I am really excited and happy with the astonishing eco printing results. I would like to thank you very, very much for sharing all your valuable information . Love and big hugs from Hellen (Haarlem, Netherlands).

    1. Thank you, Hellen. I am happy to hear that the info here is useful. I learned so much from the generosity of others who have published their experiences in books, papers, on blogs and websites. I would be a poor researcher indeed if I failed to acknowledge what others have given me. Certainly, I have contributed my own researcg, but my foundations are on the work of others.

  27. Bonjour de Belgique, je viens de lire ce post, je l’ai aperçu car mon anglais est plus que basic, j’ai lu en français les noms des fleurs, arbres…quelle dommage que la page ne soit pas traduite par Google j’aurai pu me faire une idée car je vais essayer de faire de la teinture avec de la soie…ce sera une aventure car je ne l’ai jamais fait…j’ai une petite idée mais on verra le résultat. De toute façon, je vous remercie pour les noms en français …

  28. Dear Wendy,
    I must be the latest in such a long line of newgirls to discover you and I am SO grateful! Bless you for your marathon work so beautifully presented for us all world wide. I went on to read all the comments above together with your generous replies, and I was desperately sad to read of your loss of your husband last year. I hope with all my heart that you are beginning to feel your way forward again a step at a time. I am a painter myself and teach watercolour classes in my home, and three of my student friends have lost their husbands in recent years and I have learned how important our hours of creativity are especially when in the company of like minded creative friends. Such a gentle and restoring experience whilst the slow process of healing quietly takes place deep in our souls.
    I live in Henley on Thames in southern England, and my artist sister in Sweden found your website and sent it to me this week, knowing how desperately I wanted to become skilled in Eco-printing and Dyeing. What an extraordinary resource you have created! THANKYOU Wendy! Now I will look for your blog in my next step to educate myself. At 74 I need to improve my IT skills! I am learning that All Things are to be found on the web! I tried rusting some old chains and screws in vinegar yesterday and am wondering if the fumes from the jar on the garden table account for the very strange and vacant head I have had all day today!! I have decided to hunt for already-rusted items instead of doing it myself. For now I send you my best wishes, and I shall keep you in my prayers. With love from me in a chilly rather damp England – Angie Mills.

    1. Thank you, Angela, for these heartfelt words of consolation. I am in awe of the generosity of the readers of my blog, and so deeply touched by the sincerity of expressions of sympathy and empathy an gratitude such as yours. I feel blessed by the outreach from so many hearts.I am grateful that I can share what I have learned and that it will make a difference to people’s creative lives. As Julia Cameron expresses it in her book “The Artist’s Way”, we serve God the Creator when we use our creativity. And I add to that, when we have the privilege and grace of helping others to use theirs.


    1. Hello Brittany

      Best to wash in many changes of fresh warm water then use a pH balanced soap like New Dawn dish soap which is used to wash birds that have been covered in oil-slick oil. The company that makes the soap keeps changing the formula so best to ask them if theirs still works. Otherwise use Ivory Liquid. I use mild shampoo, also or baby wash soap. And Orvus Paste, used by farmers to wash their animals – less available but worth sourcing.

  29. Thank you for your work and sharing your information . You have so many beautiful results. Hopefully when I do some they will turn out to. Thanks 😊

    1. Yes, Dina, you are sure to get results you love! This craft can reward the newest adherent with just as much treasure as it gives the most experienced among us.



  30. WEL I am inspired to try and do the same with Australian plants,seeds,bark and more….your pictures are wonderful and the people written with your replies…I have lots to learn which is part of the fun…I started out by doing solars plant dyes as summer now..sure winter will be better..next rust solars and seaweed..onion and advocado..got some alum through gardening supplies…next needed silk and cotton….no idea how to put it altogether but will stumble along…I bet your husband is looking down thinking what is she up to now..one inspirational lady

    1. Thank you, Jan, for those touching remarks. I know that the Land of The Southern Cross provides ample supplies of wonderful plant material for eco dyeing. You will be in your own heaven on earth for sure when you fire up the dye pot!


  31. Hello Wendy. Thank you for sharing so much with if I may say what seems to be your new found family. It amazes me how people are able with this technology to reach so many. The joy of dyeing naturally never ceases to fill me with happiness. I much admire your recording in the middle of such creativity. A discipline I have up to now lacked Except with notes in my sketch pad. Having just moved house in England I am pleased to note I have golden rod well established and a few other plants well known to dyers. I send my good wishes to you Wendy for the loss you have experienced and know that life experiences seem to become a part of us as a palimpsest of ourselves. You have made a difference to my life and dyeing and for that I thank you. Mary

    1. So very kind of you, Mary. I continue to be surprised and touched by the depth of compassion and caring that is expressed to me by people I have never met in the flesh- such as yourself.
      As for “recording” the info and its required “discipline” – well, I must admit I often have to read back over my blog entries to remind myself of what I did in my dye sessions- and ditto for some of th articles I have had published in magazines!!! It is a survivak strategy, Mary! There is so much to learn – still. Plus a quick set of my notes written on a dated shipping label has often been the source of info for the blog post or article. I buy labels at the office supply stores and attache with safety pins. That practice has saved my butt many a time…even then, the info is sometimes not as complete as I would like now, years after- eg. Why on earth did I not record notes on dye fastness in the wash or after light exposure….thus you live and learn. Good luck with your experiments Mary and buy a box of shipping labels plus one of safety pins

  32. I know this is an old post but do you have any photos of the spring flowers in the epilogue? This is great information!

    1. Yes, there are spring flowers shown in the page I devote to dye plant photos. Take a look at the pics and see what you recognize. Also, check the topic cloud on the home page for names of plants like “tulip”, etc.

  33. Hello Wendy,

    So grateful for your incredible resource thank you !!
    I am French and so lucky to live in Corsica cause here the flora is so generous !
    Have tried my very first eco-print this evening, bundles are resting all night long…. Used eucalyptus that grow here, oak, olive leaves, lentisque pistachier leaves, roses petals, fern, ciste, first marigold found yesterday, oxalis, wild carott leaves and first flower, rose petals…
    I have made a solution with oak galls that contain a lot of tanin ; good as sole mordant ???

    my very best wishes for the new year 🙂

    1. Thank you, Esther and bonne annee to you, also.
      I have not used oak galls as a mordant – but why not? There in Corsica it is probable that the European sumac (Rhus spp.) grows as it does in Umbria and other parts of Italy. I forget the Latin name but it is in my posts about Assisi. We use Rhus typhina here in Canada for tannin mordanting. It is easier to collect and process than oak galls. It works well with cellulose fibres (cotton, linen) in a three step mordanting soak.cook process – alum/tannin/alum. Check my early posts on natural dyeing for details. You will not get the same results as an alum mordant when you use only a tannin mordant.Alum alone is sufficent for all eco printing; tannin treatments give variable results as a “mordant” for eco prints – it has a different role from alum in colour fixing and colour changing. With iron bits added to your plants in the bundle, the tannins will turn the iron prints black or dark charcoal. Alum alone does not make those kinds of colour changes when in contact with iron – typically, the iron prints orange with alum. See my post “Twas a dark and stormy ecoprint”

      1. Hi 🙂 So nice to get your quick answer ! I will ask my Botanical friend’s Fb group for the Sumac 😉
        And what about 2 other mordants :
        – soya milk with sodium bicarbonate ?
        – sea water (one or two days soaking) ?

        So many thanks to you

  34. Yeees we have Sumac of Virginie in Corsica (its latex is toxic). Called also vinaigrier = Rhys Typhina 🙂 ans the eco-print of its leaves is really wonderful !!! One of my next experiences of course !!

  35. These two, like tannins, are not strictly speaking, mordants. It is better to think of them as dye assistants – chemicals that have the power to change pigment colour when combined with changes in the pH of the water you use. Get Jenny Dean’s book – look at my list of natural dye refs. Soya milk is not a mordant. It coats the surface of a fibre and makes the dye think it is colouring a protein fibre. That is why people soak their cellulose fibres – cotton, linen, in soya milk.

  36. Muy interesante recien descubro esta tecnica y me atrapo,veo que mucha veces los duelos nos llevan por distintos caminos para pro
    cesarlos.!Muchas gracias por compartir!!!!

  37. A friend has been enthusing about eco-printing and that, combined with all the range of information from you, is inspiring me to have a go. It will be on paper, at least to start with. Would you know what Alum is in French and if I’d get it in a pharmacie? I’ve also read that you can use soya milk as a mordant. Is this something you’ve tried? I’m a Brit living in France and have been delighted to read that the local cotinus seems to work so well.

    1. Do have a go, Sheila. “Alun” in French – though I would not expect most people to have clue what that is – ditto for English. Check out ” Couleurs de plantes”, a natural dye biz in France which may sell alum. Potassium aluminum sulphate and alum acetate are two versions to inquire about, using the chemical names. As for soya milk as a “mordant”- it is not mordant per se but it does coat cellulose fibres ( eg linen, cotton) and dyes then respond to them as if they were protein fibres ( silk, wool) which take dye colour more easily with or without mordants. Mordants interact chemically with plant fibres and dye mollecules to allow pigment . Good luck!

  38. Foi a primeira vez que tive a sorte de ler opinioes e conselhos TÃO importantes para quem esta a iniciar a impressão botanica.Tenho 76 anos e estou……apaixonada………vou estar muito atenta. obrigada.

  39. Thank you so much for all of your indexing work! I live in New Zealand so my available flora and fauna differs a bit but several of your plants listed are available to me! Awesome resource that you have created.

  40. Thank you Wendy for your generosity in sharing your experimentation and your wealth of knowledge. I started my eco printing journey with an on line course in the spring and now I am experimenting and trying to learn which plants I can grow in my own garden (in Ireland). Your list of plants with the photographs is great and has inspired me to try some plants I would not have thought of. I think I will be coming back to your blog often!
    Best wishes

  41. Thank you so much for this – I went on a eco-printing stage (course) yesterday in the Haute-Vienne and loved it – this will help me continue forward.

      1. I’ve been printing on paper and fabric – loving it – fabulous results on paper, strong leaf impressions, less so on fabric but still very happy with results so far. Blackcurrant leaves and eucalypus my favourite so far on fabric, but nearly all plants worked on paper. Used vinegar and tannin on paper before printing.

  42. Hi Wendy, thank you for your time and effort to put up this wonderful info for all of us new to Eco printing/dying. I have been playing around dying old cotton t-shirt and having such fun experimenting with plants I have in my garden. Mostly Eucs and Roses and Calistmons. I am not able to get definite details of many plants unless I use an Iron dip, I do like this method but the grey and blacks have an overpowering quality. Can you please advise how I can get more greens and oranges without the sad look of the iron juice! I have India Flint’s book which is full of detail but confusing to use for a visual learner as myself. Have you ever used Dandelion Root and if so how would I use it? I was sad to read your loss and connect with your journey of grief, 2016 was a very sad year for our family too. I lost my best friend to Motor Neron Disese in the Jan and in the May my Hubs was diagnosed with Leukemia, then that Nov (a week before his bone marrow transplant) we lost our first sweet grandchild (13yrs) in a tragic freak accident. I have been in a deep black hole for a couple of years and try as I may couldn’t get back into creating. Now after reading your site last July 2018 I have become crazy obsessed with Eco Dying/Printing, my 35 or so years of Art learning has come to this genre with a new way of looking at why I produce art. I can not thank you enough for your kind, caring & sharing of your invaluable experimentation and love of making. Some days are Diamond but some days are still stone. Take care and big hugs from me to you 🤗

  43. I am amazed that the breadth of this resource and all the work you have put into creating it! I just want to stare at the computer and be enchanted by it.
    Thank you.
    Anna Maria from Italy.

    1. Thank you, Anna Maria from Italy! Many of th Canadian plants on my little database are yours, too, in Italy, as I recall from my time near Assisi. Enjoy making such beauty from your own region with its characteristic and native plants

  44. Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge,encouragement, and experience. I am a naturalist wanting to do some basic dye classes with both children and adults using native plants. You have provided such an incredible resource. I am working with eco printing on paper and silk and cotton hankies (for experimentation and cost effectiveness). I am completely and hopelessly (in a good way) hooked! Getting pots at thrift stores also …

    1. Great, Amy! Are you in Canada? I am a member of the North American Native Plant Society …have written an article for the fall issue of their mag about eco printing with native plants…most of which are found outside N.A. You can access it if you are a member – it is a summary, basically of Best Bets for eco prints with natives. But with digging around on my blog, you find the same info, plus…

  45. Hello Wendy,
    Can I first say how sorry I was to read of your loss, you husband is such a huge part of your life, a companion whose loss is not easy to even explain, never mind cope with. I lost my father in 1990 and brother in 2012 and it all still hurts.
    Thank you so very much for the huge wealth of information on dyeing and plants, and the photos make such a difference.
    I have recently done a batch of ‘eco dyeing’ and been pleasantly surprised by the results, encouraging me to try again.
    I got soft greens, greys and blues with some definition here and there in SOME of the leaves. I work with paper.
    Unfortunately having had to receate the paper stack 3 times, as the first one was too high for a roasting tin, and the second to wide for a huge pan, by the time stack 3 was done my back and neck were screaming at me.
    Hopefully having acquired a bigger pair of tiles, I will get slightly better impressions on ALL the sheets not just the centre ones.
    I used alum and white vinegar 6tblsp of each, plus 2 huge hunks of iron found in a field. And soaked with the first 2 tblsps of alum and vinegar for about 4 hours, creating a gorgeous purple liquid, which on boiling for an hour totally disappeared to my great disappointment.
    I used a great variety of leaves and flowers from my garden including some picked up from the ground that I often did not know the variety of.
    Plus pink peppercorns and juniper berries from the kitchen, star anise and cochineal food colouring, plus I added half an onion in the bottom of the pan at the last moment.
    I also added the contents of a few fruit teas: Blackcurrant and Vanilla, plus Teapigs Superfruit, and ‘Redberries’.
    I also had berries on Hypericum, and Holly.
    One of these berries gave a good greenish print, and one a dark grey.
    Best colour and definition from a flower was from Coreopsis – as you have mentioned. It was a quite strong greenish colour print, original flower – dark red.
    I think I have some sort of Sumac in the garden, but no idea which one it is.
    I have oaks so I could make oak gall tannin if that’s possible at home?
    I have ‘food grade Alum’ – bought a few years ago for a purpose I forget but I can’t discover exactly which Alum that is, if it’s Alum Acetate or Aluminium potassium sulphate or Sodium aluminium sulphate, or something completely different.
    Having just begun with eco printing, I have no images on my website, but I’ll add those today.
    Is there anywhere one can buy the sumac berries that gives such a nice red? Or anything else to create red or purple? Or at least to have a chance of doing so?

    1. You are having a great time, I can tell Fran! Eco printing is truly an absorbing art and it encourages you to experiment – great for creativity…the grocery store alum is the p.a.sulphate. Alum acetate gives equally good results on cellulose or protein fabrics/papers. The other alum sometimes needs other steps in the dye process. Get a good book eg Wild Colour by Jenny Dean to help sort the use of mordants and dye assistants…do not throw vinegar at everything. Coreopsis gives red, try again, no vinegar. Better than sumac berries for a beginner red…for purple, try logwood. And get that dye book! You will be very glad now that you are hooked but have a lot of questions. Thank you for sharing all you have done so far, Fran

      1. PS – on finding purples: see my replies to the question by Lindy Smith posted on the Bye Bye Buckthorn page for tips on getting purples from local plants, I recommended logwood but I rrealize you would likely have to send away for it

    2. PS It matters which kind of coreopsis. C.verticillata gives me reddest reds. C.lanceolata, more orangey. The bidens family of plants also gives orange reds

      1. Thank you Wendy for sharing all this great information. Many years ago I experimented with eco dyes, dyepot and the plants I was able to gather locally on wool yarn. I kept what I thought were good records and a sample book which still lives in a dark cabinet). 20 years ago I painted started painting on silk with commercial dyes. Now I am ready to eco dye on silk and your tute was awesome. My plant knowledge is vaster, and I am psyched to try. Your work is awesome, I can imagine your work space happily and think you should write a book. The information about Native Americans and their use of plants is invaluable. – Dorothy

      2. That is a wonderfully gracious testimonial, Dorothy! I an sure you will adore eco printing. Check out the FB group Printing with Botanicals for the latest and greatest in eco printing. They also maintain a file referenec section with useful info

  46. I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your work, your openness to share your processes and journey and your vulnerability of your art journey. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of all that is ecoprinting. I am trying to find my way through the commercial “natural dyes” and processed and am also interested in what is foraged for food or medicine and if it dyes as well. Thanks for all your information. I am in Ottawa occasionally and would love to meet sometime.

    1. Thank you, Jane! By all means be in touch when you are next in town. For refs on food and meds, check out ” The Boreal Herbal” by Beverley Gray; for natural dyes updated, see the latest by Joy Boutrop and Catherine Ellis on the science and art of natural dyes

  47. I wanted to know after removing the plant material post steaming what is the right method of curing for colour fastness. Does the fabric need to be dipped in Alum again or should it just be allowed to dry? All the tutorials talk about beautiful prints and pictures but the article then ends there.

    1. Hi there Reena! If you ask this question on a FB group like Printing With Botanicals, you can expect several different answers. All depends on the interaction of the elements at play. For myself and the variety of processes, plants, fabrics and dye assistants that I use, sometimes I rinse right away and dry, other times I let the article dry then cure for some time before rinsing. If I mordant with alum at the start of the eco print process, I do not usually mordant again with alum. Though I might use other dye assistants eother before or after to change colours or to help fix the. These assistants ( eg iron):may also have the property of improving light fastness.,



  48. Hi Wendy
    I am gobsmacked at the amount of work that went into your posts! So generous of you for sharing your experiments and as a Canadian artists, I genuinely appreciate the regional relevance of your posts. What is your favourite mordant to use on cellulose fibres? Is it different when you plan to use a dye blanket? I am combining ecoprint and painting, do you think I need to post mordant to “fix” pigment before adding paint media? Here is an example https://www.roselwilliamsarts.com/
    Thanks again so much for your hard work and talent!
    Rose L. Williams

    1. Hi Rose! I know your neck of the woods – many moons ago I was a waitress for one summer at the Roger Hotel on E Hastings near Carrall if I recall correctly…many tales and far from the peace of eco prints…Anyway: do check out the most recent work by Jane Dunnewold ( great person, teacher, artist and constant innovator) – FB, website, books, workshops, etc. Her work now combines eco prints and painting..Re your mordant q’s – try soya milk on cellulose ( process info online everywhere) plus the FB group Printing With Botanicals where you will find eco print- painters there too…I use alum acetate mostly for cellulose mordanting, soya for different purposes. As for treating the fabrics that have been both eco printed and painted- big question, many possible answers. For myself, because I am into plants, I use only watercolour paints naturally sourced ( not synthetics) when I paint onto an eco printed surface because the prints and the paints have similar properties…I treat my substrates according to their intended use: wearable, wall art, book, etc. Hope these tips help…As for tips I used to get at The Roger Hotel: incrediblly generous ones from poor people ( hookers, junkies, drunks, homeless, jobless…on and on) eg a whole fresh salmon once, several pairs of nylons when one man asked me why my legs were bare ( he was checking…)…smartypants me said it was because I had no money for stockings…Next day, at the bar, the stockings were waiting for me – the man had just left them for me…the waiters on the late shift would walk me to the bus stop and see me onto the bus, they would never let me walk Hastings alone…it was a rough part of town….I loved that job and those little peeps

  49. I just scrolled through your excellent guide to see what tips you could offer for fig leaves… and now I can let you know that I got the same “possibly fugitive, yellow-green” results with watercolors papers, mordant alum with co-iron application–not the affirmation I wanted 😉 but I am determined to combine letterpress, eco-printing, and maybe even cyanotype printing to get the effects I want… Your blogs and oh! so generous gifts of instruction and processes is inspiring, thanks so much!

  50. Thank you, Wendy! I just happened upon your website as I was searching for common plants to use for eco dyeing, and I realized that I follow you on Instagram! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.

      1. The weather this year is perfect for the garden (in Winnipeg, at least). Today I’m going to try eco-dyeing some dill, on paper that I’ve wet with alum water, and will dye in a pot of copper water. I love experimenting! Have a great day, Wendy!

  51. I am starting my experiments in eco-printing and discovered your blog. Thank you so much for this valuable resource. I spent hours reading it all!

    I have a few questions for you about eco-printing on paper:
    1. Output differences between steaming and immersion bath.
    2. When you say “soak papers in alum overnight”, is it hot water?
    3. This is the one I am struggling with the most: if you leave the bundle overnight after dyeing, doesn’t the paper becomes dry? how to avoid breaking the paper when you lift the leaves? if you are doing the immersion bath, do you also leave the bundle overnight in the water?
    4. About pressure: output differences between tying, clamping and weighting the bundle.
    5. Another one very puzzling to me: do you put the fresh leaves and flowers wet or dry? If the leaves are dry (versus fresh) do you hydrate them?

    Thank you again for sharing all your record-keeping. I started this past summer to experiment with natural dyeing and kept some records too, I am sharing this in case may be useful for your readers. It is mostly about natural dyeing but I also included a few samples of eco-printing:


    1. Thank you for your visit and your comments, Hellen. I will try to answer briefly by topic. Please know that your own experiments and willingness to TRY ANYTHING are what count.

      1. Paper soaking: try all kinds and see for yourself which will fall apart. Watercolour papers are designed for soaking, for example. On the other hand, maybe you would like your papers to disintegrate if you have an art purpose for that. (I do)
      2. Soaking keeps the paper wet. Alum can dry your skin ( it is used in antiperspirants) but not the papers
      3. Alum works as a mordant on papers even if you soak them briefly – an hour or two. Longer soaking does no harm.
      4. Water temp is unimportant for papers and soaking in alum. Obviously if you start with hot water it will get cold overnight or cool after a few hours.
      5. Leave the bundles overnight if you like. Some people cannot wait….experiment anc see what you prefer
      6. The output you mention re tying the bundles: you will have to experiment and see for yourself. i like to use cardboards or thin wood serving boards to keep the papers flat. Or ceramic tiles. String and binder clips work – clips give tight contact by their nature, string requires your own strength to tie tightly
      7. Using leaves and flowers wet or dry: IOW, fresh or dried? The papers are wet from the soaking in alum water but papers are OK to use if they are dry. Use plants fresh or dry but most will give better colours when fresh- and thus, when they are wet with their own juices. No need to dip in water.
      8. The most important attitude for your success is one of willingness to try things. There is no single route to success in eco printing. Just a some Best Practice.
      9. Read about the work of others doing eco printing.

  52. Hello Dears thank you for sharing your experience and tutorials.I have an interest doing researches on eco printing of cotton fabric using heat press machine so I need your valuable comments so please write this is my email address

    1. Hello Belaynesh,
      I have not made eco prints using a heat press machine. However, there is a book about the use of a heat press for ecoprinting by Jane Dunnewold entitled: “Best of Both World: Enhanced Botanical Printing”. I am sure this will be helpful to your research. Jane is a well known educator, has a website and makes You Tube videos. You can reach her through these online links should you need permission to use her work in your research or if you intend to take classes from her, etc. Good luck with your projects! Ecoprinting is a fascinating field.

  53. What an amazing website you have gifted to us. Absolutely fascinating and exciting.I’m from tropical Africa but currently in UK and about to embark on eco-dying paper. Thank you

    1. Thank you, Zanna! And these days, there are many more references online so you will not be short of inspiration for your work in eco printing!

  54. What an amazing documentation you have here. Thank you. Just a tiny thing, though. It’s Irit Dulman, not Iris! ; )

  55. A million thanks for your kindness and generosity in sharing your knowledge!!! I’ve just read through 7 years of readers’ comments/queries, and learned from your replies. I am so inspired to try printing with the endemic wild flowers and domesticated flowers in my southern Spanish garden. I deeply appreciate too how you’ve shared how therapeutic this process has been and continues to be for you and others undergoing the loss of loved ones. Please continue to inspire us.

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