Some Plants for Dye Plant Gardens in Northeast US (trees not
included) that were used in Medieval Europe:
||Perennial. Good as shade groundcover. Must be kept
|Alkanna tinctoria,Anchusa tinctoria
||Perennial; can get bush-like
||Pinks and Yellows
||Annual. Needs full sun.
|Chamaemelum nobile, Anthemis nobile
||Hardy perennial; spreads like carpet
||Easy perennial can be harvested after 2-3 years. Leaves can cause rash on some individuals.
||Invasive perennial; dig up roots and harvest to leave just a small plant each year.
Other Galiums (woodruff, cleavers) may also contain dye in roots.
||Easy biennial can be harvested either year. 2nd year bolt will
contain LOTS of seeds; be very careful to bag & cut off tip if
you do not want to re-seed for next year.
||Takes a lot of flowers to get enough saffron for dyeing
||Dyer's Greenweed, broom
||Stems, leaves, and flowers
||Easy bush perennial, harvest as needed
||Non-hardy annual (best in pot), needs long growing season
||Easy biennial can be harvested either year. Blossoms produce
lots of seeds; cut off before seeds mature or bag the seeds so
they don't spread.
||Easy invasive perennial. Cut flowers before they go
*Blues from indigotin require a special vat-dyeing process.
Some dye plants are considered to be noxious weeds
in some states. Check http://invader.dbs.umt.edu/Noxious_Weeds/ for
information on your state's laws. The classification of
"Noxious" is NOT a joke and you can face serious fines if you
grow a plant that is outlawed in your state.
Woad is considered to be noxious in most of the Western US and can be
found wild in many areas. It spreads through airborne seeds. If you can
find woad natively, DO NOT grow it in your garden.
Tansy may also be considered dangerous, especially in areas where
livestock graze because it can be toxic in large doses. It spreads by
both seeds and rhizomes.
Helpful Hint from Experience: Don't tell your mother over the phone
that you're growing a Dyeing Garden. She can't hear the "e" in
"dyeing" and will question your mental health (or at least
your gardening skills)!
Sources for Dye Plants and Seeds:
Goodwood, Ontario, Canada
Brush Creek Woolworks
(Merchants at Pennsic and MDSW)
Meyersdale, PA 15552
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (annual event)
Various vendors… The Herb Farm is usually right near the entrance
Landis Valley Herb and Garden Show (annual event)
Sometimes conflicts with MDSW. Go early and know what you're looking
for; some dye plants sell out quickly and aren't always labeled well.