Orange Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) is an amazingly productive plant. Once it starts to flower, we have a hard time keeping up with the harvest! It seems that every morning, we look out the window and it’s ready to be harvested again. It’s also very gangly and we try to plant rows of shorter dye plants in between our rows of Orange Cosmos or we have a hard time getting down the aisles by mid-summer! The bees absolutely love the flowers, and harvesting must be done with care to not catch a bee unawares. We harvest basketfuls of these flower heads and dye them immediately to preserve their colour and vibrance. Orange Cosmos dyes a vibrant pumpkin orange colour on both wool and cotton.
Key Dye Colours: Orange, brown, olive
Dye Process: Colour is extracted by bringing to a gentle simmer until the water turns a deep orange.
Weight of Fibre (WOF): Use at 30% for a rich medium shade. For a darker colour, use more; for a lighter colour, use less. A small bag will dye ~100g of fibre and a large bag will dye ~330g of fibre. A typical wool skein is 100g.
Key Modifiers: Iron produces a grey-brown or olive shade. Shifting the PH to alkaline can produce a golden yellow or a reddish-orange.
Washfastness: Very Good.
Overall Colourfastness: Good to Very Good.
Natural colour grown with care
This natural plant dye was grown with care on our small farm in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. All of our dye plant material is dried on site immediately after harvest to preserve quality and maximum vibrancy of colour.
Natural dyes can only be used on natural fibres (cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, hemp, silk). For best results, natural fibres should be pre-prepared using a mordant or tannin before dyeing. Natural dyes and mordants are available in our online store.
Natural dyes create unique living colours that will evolve and wear over time as they are washed, worn, and loved creating colours and garments that are alive, telling the story of their use. While they are not as consistently repeatable or as durable as many synthetic dyes, they are far more environmentally friendly and, in our opinion, absolutely unmatched in magic and beauty. If you are new to natural dyes, we have a free guide to getting started with natural dyes.