Fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus

It’s summertime hardy hibiscus are in full bloom. I have found a great plant near where I leave and I have managed a substantial harvest (30- 40 flower buds). I love natural fabric dyeing with every day let it be food or weeds found easily. Recently I have found out that one can use these hardy hibiscus flowers for fabric dyeing.

Hibiscus flowers that are grown in warm climates are known to have great dye properties. They are used in food colouring, tea making and other lots of edible and dye use. There is plenty of variety of hibiscus available so don’t just eat any hibiscus flower.

Hardy hibiscus grown in temperate climate are known to produce dye for fabric dyeing however from this experiment I found that animal fibres like silk do take the colour much better than cellulose fibre like cotton. Hardy hibiscus commonly is pink in clour but they do come in other colours as well.

It’s possible to dry the flowers before fabric dyeing. The flowers also do fall off the plants if they are not harvested. Dried flowers may yield a slightly different colour compared to freshly harvested ones.

Did you know that one can yield 25 different tones from one single dye bath? This is done by adjusting the mordants, no mordant, pre mordant, post mordant and a combination of mordants. There is an option to use natural mordants like soya bean, rhubarb leaves and many more.

Fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus

To prepare the dye bath

Simmer the flowers on low heat for 30 minutes then put the fabrics in pre mordant or no mordant. Leave it overnight for the colours to seep in. 

Below is a sample of fabric pre mordanted alum then dyed with hardy hibiscus. The top left fibre lying on top of the cotton fabric is silk which has the strongest dye colour.

fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus

If using iron-on pre mordant fabric with alum the colour is much darker.  This silk fibre on the top of the picture below has the darkest colour of all after using iron and alum mordant. For more information on using mordant here is a link to my blog post on using mordants.

fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus

The colour on cellulose is less intense virtually not much uptake of colours compare to silk fibres. I have not dye it with hemp or linen fabric. So do go ahead and experiment and thank you for dropping by. Have a look at my other flower eco dyeing experiments like with dahlia

fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus

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