Dyeing with Golden Rod

Dyeing with Golden Rod

harvesting golden rod flowers for dye


I live in Southern Ontario, where Golden Rod ( solidago sp) grows wild everywhere! Is a striking plant that can grown up to 150cm ( 59 inches).

Native to North America, Golden Rod belongs to the aster family, Asteraceae and has a long history of use as a dye plant & a medicinal plant. 

There are more than 100 different species of Golden Rod!  

Ive dedicated a portion of my garden to it, and every year I get a bigger and bigger patch. It is a great native plant to encourage in the city. Great for all our pollinating friends!

Golden Rod is ready for harvest when the yellow flowers begin to bloom. Leave it for too long it will head right to seed ! 

It blooms from July to October,  and in largest quantities in September.  Because I never want to take too much from anyone once spot, including my garden, I tend to harvest plant tops all season and freeze, untill I have enough for a large dye bath.

golden rod


When making a Golden Rod dye bath you can use just the flowering parts or the whole top, flowers & leaves included.  

Making the Dye bath

Once you have enough material weighed (equal weights of fresh plant material to fibers.) 

chop up the plant material into a big pot of water.   Use enough water so the plant material has space to move about!

golden rod dye bath


Simmer the Golden Rod for an hour to extract the colour. I like to let the plants sit in the dye bath over night to cool.  Strain plant material out, and add pre-mordanted fibers. 

Add Fibers

Im dyeing 100% cotton cord , that has been scoured, and pre-treated/mordanted with Oak Gall &Alum Acetate.

If Im dyeing cord, sometimes I leave the plant material in the pot when I add the cord. I don't suggest this when working with fabric or wool, it would be a real headache to get the plant material off of the fibers!

rope inside of a yellow dye bath
plant material strained out before adding cotton


dyeing with golden rod
plant material left in to cook with cotton cord


Simmer fibers in the dye bath for an hour, or so and leave the fibers in the dye bath to cool overnight.  Wash out fibers and let dry in a shady spot. 


Golden Rod produces lovely shades of yellow using alum as a mordant.   

goldenrod dyed fruit bowl

                      Golden Rod basket with Madder Root dyed accents

Iron will shift the yellow of Golden Rod to shades of olive green. 

( the hemp accents in the basket below are goldenrod with iron) 


                   Basket made with Golden Rod dyed cord and hemp.


As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!! I love the exchange of plant dye knowledge! 




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