How to Make Organic Natural Blue Dyes

  • 01 of 10

    How to Create Natural Blue Dyes with Plants

    Blue petals
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    One of the most treasured and rare colors in the plant world is blue. Indigo was so valued that in the United States that Colonists used it as a trade crop.  

    Learn how to create natural blue dyes from plants and then use it to dye fibers and fabrics for your home, clothing and craft projects.

    Once you have mastered blue dyes, you can try your hand at all of the other colors also created from natural plant materials.

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  • 02 of 10

    Cornflower Blooms

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    Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus, is an annual plant native to Europe with intense blue flowers. It is also known as Batchelor's Button or Blue Bottle. As a native wildflower species, it is now endangered due to agricultural growth. However, it has been cultivated to become a rather common garden flower.

    To create a dye bath, the petals are boiled with alum in the water.


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  • 03 of 10

    Dogwood Bark and Fruit

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    There is nothing blue on a dogwood tree, Cornus, but you can produce blue dye using the bark of the dogwood and a greenish-blue dye from the red fruit.

    Dogwood bark has an interesting square-plate texture. The fruit is colorful in the autumn and winter often turning a brilliant scarlet.

    The dye is extracted by boiling large quantities of the bark or fruit with water.


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  • 04 of 10

    Hyacinth Flowers

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    Hyacinth, as it is commonly known or Hyacinthus, Asparagaceae, is a group of plants grown from bulbs in a range of colors from white to yellow to pink to purple to blue. Native to the Middle East, the bulbs became a garden standard when the bulbs became cultivated commercially in the Netherlands.

    To create a blue dye, use the blue and purple blooms in large quantities boiled with water.


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  • 05 of 10


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    Indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, is a shrub or small tree found in many countries in the southeastern parts of Asia. The dye is derived from the leaves of the indigo plant that are red or purple in color. The leaves are usually divided into smaller leaflets. The small rose, purple, or white flowers are borne in spikes or clusters. The fruit is a pod, usually with a thin partition between the seeds.

    Indigo plants were brought to the American colonies and was grown in the deep South for many years but...MORE never became the cash crop that settlers expected. It was replaced by rice and cotton.

    The leaves are boiled to extract a deep, true blue dye. Natural indigo powders can be purchased if the plant is not accessible.


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  • 06 of 10

    Japanese Indigo

    Japanese Indigo
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    Japanese Indigo, Polygonum tinctorium, is also called Dyer's Knotweed. It is an annual plant that is started from seed. It has a relatively short growing season and can produce enough growth for several dye batches each summer. Seed can be saved to grow it again the next year.

    Creating a dye bath from Japanese Indigo takes a number of steps and the addition of household ammonia and sodium hydrosulfite. Learn how to make a great deep blue dye from this website, Sheep to Shawl.


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  • 07 of 10

    Oregon Grape

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    Oregon Grape, Mahonia aquifolium, is an evergreen shrub related to the barberry. It is not part of the grape family; however, it does produce clusters of blue/purple fruit that look like grapes.

    The Oregon Grape is native to the northwestern United States, but has been cultivated for use in the home garden nationwide except in tropical areas.

    To extract the dye, gather the fruit when it turns blue and boil with water using an alum mordant.


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  • 08 of 10

    Saffron Crocus Petals

    Blue Crocus
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    The stigmas of the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, are worth their weight in gold...maybe even more. Saffron is a prominent and treasured spice in many Asian cuisines.

    It is the blue petals of the crocus flower, however, that will produce a lovely blue/green dye. It will take many, many petals boiled with water to achieve the dye bath color you desire.


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  • 09 of 10

    Purple Iris

    purple iris
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    You can find iris blooming in every color of the rainbow. But, to achieve a blue dye you'll need the blue/purple iris blooms. Gather the blooms - fresh or dried - and use an alum mordant to achieve the a blue dye.


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  • 10 of 10


    Anne Green-Armytage/Getty Images

    Woad, Isatis tinctoria, also called Dyer's woad, is an herb that contains the same chemical in its leaves as true indigo and will produce a blue dye. The concentration of the chemical is not as strong as in true indigo will produce a beautiful blue.

    Woad is native to Central Asia but is now found around the world. To some, it is a noxious weed, to others a cultivated crop for the extracted dye.

    The steps for extracting the blue dye is a process similar to Japanese indigo and the steps must be...MORE followed carefully.