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For Newbies From a Newbie: 1 Getting Started with African Marigolds

July 31, 2018 10:24 AM | Sara Anderson (Administrator)

African marigold seeds sit upon a shibori dyed scarf I created in the Inspire Me: Dip and Dye Silk Scarves Class.   I took this photo and thought the seeds looked like fireworks on the horizon with a cosmic background as an unidentified onlooker to the left watches.  I keep the seeds in the scarf for next season.

If you’re looking to grow your own natural dye plants but have no idea where to start, then the brief and simple For Newbies From a Newbie posts are for you.  Through the posts, I share my path to growing and dyeing with natural dye plants.  Whether followed to a T, or modified where it makes sense, I hope my path can serve as a guide to getting you started with growing and using dye plants.  I don't have all the answers, but that may be as good a reason to try as any.

The first year I decided to grow dye plants, I soon realized I had no clue what to plant or where to get the seeds.  Googling the topic provided so many options that I found it difficult to narrow it down and soon found myself throwing down vegetable seeds for that summer.  I had some great salads that I don't regret but still no dye plants.  While I found a dye garden internship to teach me the ways, I know that is not practical for everyone.  So, I hope this guide is.  Here I will share the basics of what I learned from Textiles West, especially Peggy, about starting a dye garden.

For simplicity, I'm focusing on growing African Marigolds, my #1 recommended confidence booster.  The plants are hearty and the blooms profuse!  African Marigolds are the zucchinis of the dye plant world.   

The first thing you need to do is buy some seeds.

Where to purchase seeds:

One place the seeds can be purchased is from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.rareseeds.com.

What to purchase:

If you are feeling ambitious, here are the other seeds, besides African Marigolds, that I planted:



  •      Flower Plains Coreopsis
  •      Cosmos Bright Lights
  •      Hollyhock Jet Black 
While you are waiting for your seeds to arrive, perhaps make sure you have some potting soil and seed starter trays (or something similar) ready to go.  If the plants are indoors, you may want to have some grow lights too.  You really don't need anything else, but I like to supplement my watering with fish emulsion.  It is stinky, but the plants love it, so it is worth it.


Once the seeds arrive, you'll be ready to plant!

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