Madder is an ancient, historic dye and yields an amazing red. It is a slow grower, taking about 3 years to yield usable roots, and madder dyed textile fragments have been found in Mohenjodaro from the third millennium BCE. Madder has a rich history of use in India, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe and is found in textiles, tinctures and Ayurvedic medicine. Take bedhead fiber’s advice and grow it in a contained bed or a large planter. Otherwise it will become your garden!
bedhead fiber says:
Madder seeds are for those who are in it for the long haul! Start seeds indoors and transplant outside once they are a few inches tall. One happy plant can spread to 4 or more square feet, so ideally madder would have its own bed as it can become too comfortable and crawl over its neighbors. Madder can even become mildly invasive if left unwatched. Prefers a sunny spot, and well drained, deep, fertile soil will yield the best color results. Takes about 2-3 years for roots to produce dye, but this plant needs minimal maintenance once established. Each seed packet contains 10 seeds. Madder root will give the illusive orange and deep reds that are tricky to obtain with natural dyes–worth the wait!
Don’t throw away the spent roots. They may be used in eco printing or for fermentation indigo vats after it has been used in the dye bath.
All bedhead fiber seeds have been sourced from farms within the US and are non-GMO.
Photos by Kristina Moravec. Contact bedhead fiber to arrange usage terms