Growing Flowers to Dye For

I've always enjoyed growing marigolds in my vegetable garden. The big seeds are easily sown directly in the soil as soon as the ground thaws here in Northwestern Ontario (late May/ early June), and the plants have plenty of vigor producing masses of red, gold, and yellow blooms that not only look gorgeous but prevent pesky pests from devouring my veggies too!

I started dyeing fibres with marigolds about two years ago, and, there’s really nothing better than a plant that performs as well as this in a short growing season.

This year, I decided to expand my flower-colour-palette by researching and including a few new seeds to grow in pots with the purpose of dyeing.

Coreopsis Tinctoria

These seedlings were spindly, but they quickly caught up to the marigolds and surpassed them in height, producing beautiful, loonie-sized red-centered yellow blooms throughout the summer.

Calendula Alpha and Calendula Pacific Beauty

I’ve grown Calendula before but only in small numbers, and, without harvesting for its good healing and dyeing properties. I was determined to grow as many calendula plants as possible, stuffing the seedlings into any pot or planter I could find and dead-heading through the summer for a continuous supply of blooms.
Last, to round out my selection, I experimented with Cosmos Sulphureus - an elegant bloomer towering upwards of 60 cm and scattered throughout my veggie beds.
To promote as many blooms as possible I diligently pruned the flowers every couple of days, and have a lovely stash of dried blossoms for dyeing with during our long, snowy season.
I left the flowers in pots on the deck as long as possible, and, sadly, picked the last of the flowers today - (Oct. 22) they really clung on for life despite receiving our first snowfall last week.
I’m looking forward to growing more of the same flowers next year, if not for their colour potential, for the sheer delight in seeing their sunny blossoms swaying in the breeze from July to October!