P.S. to Yellows



Coreopsis growing in my garden







This is one of the delights of Autumn in my garden. I love the combination of the yellow of the coreopsis flowers and the deep lavender blue of these michaelmas daisies.



In my earlier post on yellows I made only a passing reference to coreopsis. However, now that I’m enjoying the wonderful glowing yellows of the coreopsis flowers in my garden, it seems appropriate to write a little more about these delightful plants. There are several species of coreopsis and all make good dye plants. Many are perennials and some will spread very rapidly, so caution may be necessary in a small garden. We have had perennial coreopsis in our garden for many years and the wonderful display they give in late Summer and early Autumn more than compensates for any need to remove surplus plants from time to time.

The flowers can be enjoyed while in full bloom and then harvested for the dyepot when the plants are deadheaded. Once the flowering season is over, the whole plant tops can also be used in the dyepot. A dyebath made from the flowers alone will give rich yellows and golds, while the whole plant tops give greener or browner shades. For increased fastness and really bright yellows, I usually use an alum mordant with coreopsis. However, the dye will fix on ummordanted wool, especially when an iron modifier is used, although this shifts the colour towards green or brown. Most species of coreopsis give similar colours, with the exception of the annual plant, dyer’s coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), which gives shades with a more orange tone. This plant is well worth growing in a flower border for its charming blooms alone, and the colours it gives in the dyepot are an added bonus for dyers.

6 replies
  1. Martine
    Martine says:

    Truly delightful foto’s of your coreopsis Jenny.
    Last week i bought a coreopsis verticillata. Its a beautiful red. To smal for dying, that i have to wait for till next year. I wonder what color it’l give me then.

  2. claudia
    claudia says:

    Thank you for this inspiration, I have also a lot of this flowers in my garden, but i didn´t dye with them in the past. But I will try it.

    Best wishes
    claudia from germany

  3. red2white
    red2white says:

    Thank you for this information! They are growing right under our kitchen window, also next to huge lavender. I never realised I could use them in natural dyeing!

  4. Benita
    Benita says:

    I have been doing natural dyes for several years, now, and host an annual Dye Day event. One of the books I always recommend for people to read is your Wild Color.

    Because of how much I love your site and how much you give to all of us, I have chosen your site to pass the Honest Scrap award to. You can go to my blog to get the banner and see what it is for. Choosing yours to feature for its content and design was easy!

  5. cedar
    cedar says:

    Just finished a coreopsis bath, but the flowers had soaked for a month, seems harvest got a bit ahead of dyeing, anyhow they did make a lovely lite orangey/beige skein, which is a keeper…Next time I must stay on top of what I have soaking.

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