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: ‘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 collected 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)
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:

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)


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.


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 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.


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 substative 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:

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:

74 Responses to Dye Plants for Eco Printing and Eco Dyeing

  1. Nina Fenner says:

    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.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Nina! Let us know your results if you get your hands on some of the plants


      • denise says:

        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

      • wendyfe says:

        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



      • Nina Fenner says:

        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?

  2. Iwona says:

    Thank You for Your work…:) Now I feel like I`m ready for the season….Iwona

  3. Prue Quarmby says:

    Thank you so much for all of this information. Some won’t be applicable here in Tasmania (Australia) but wow, such a help to begin!

  4. Thank you, Wendyfe! It’s always nice to learn more! 😉

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! Really inspriring!

  6. Wonderful! Thanks Wendy for all information! You mentioned many trees with their
    French names! I loved it. Living in Massachusetts but native of France.

  7. Margie says:

    This would be a lovely topic for a study group! Thanks for all the info

    • wendyfe says:

      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.

      • mazzaus says:

        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.

  8. Jane Spencer says:

    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.

  9. Darlene says:

    What an amazing resource. Thanks for sharing. A huge amount of helpful information here.

    • wendyfe says:

      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!


  10. Patricia says:

    so appreciate this compilation!

  11. mltai says:

    wonderful resource and great notes…..Awesome

    • wendyfe says:

      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


  12. Tamara says:

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

  13. koffipot says:

    Thank you so much for all this information. Now to do something exciting with my prunings and weedings. 🙂

  14. Yumiko says:

    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?

    • wendyfe says:

      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.

  15. Elaine says:

    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.

    • wendyfe says:

      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

  16. brendamarksstudio says:

    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!

    • wendyfe says:

      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.

  17. Carmel Montoya says:

    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

    • wendyfe says:

      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!

  18. Wow this is an amazing resource thanks so much for sharing. I’ve only just begun eco dyeing and this will be so helpful!

    • wendyfe says:

      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


  19. jennieboyce says:

    What an amazing blog post. Excellent way to journal the beautiful outcome. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Cora Hales says:

    I recently began eco printing your website is so helpful
    thank you for sharing!!

  21. Diana says:

    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

  22. Nina Mihm says:

    Thank you for all your hard work. I am in Texas figuring what works here. The photos were helpful.

  23. Katie says:

    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 : )

  24. Carole L says:

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

  25. glengallery says:

    Great Blog and dye resource thank you Wendy! Geum leaves also give great eco-prints- very clear in iron mordanted water.

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  28. Svetlana says:

    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!

  29. Tricia Gourley says:

    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


    • wendyfe says:

      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!


  30. Liz says:

    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!

  31. wendyfe says:

    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

  32. Nurul Asyiqin says:

    hi wendyfe, now I doing some research on this technique. Can you help me on this research? I want to know how you remove flower latex on the fabric? Here is my email h_nurulasyiqin@yahoo.com. Feel free to email me 🙂

    • wendyfe says:

      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?

      • Nurul Asyiqin says:

        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.

  33. Penny says:

    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.

    • wendyfe says:

      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.

  34. Steph Squires says:

    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.

  35. Julie says:

    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.

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