The Cornell Natural Dye Garden was started in the spring of 2015 as an opportunity to cultivate a variety of colors for textiles that come from the natural world. We believe natural dyes are an opportunity to make a sustainable intervention in the apparel supply chain and the Cornell Natural Dye Garden has become a hands-on and direct source of knowledge for students to learn how to cultivate, extract, and create colors on textiles.

Located in the courtyard between the Human Ecology Building and Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, the garden is regularly used for teaching demonstrations and community outreach. We would like to thank those who generously donated monetary gifts through the Cornell Crowdfunding campaign, which helped us to establish the dye garden as a place of research, teaching, and outreach.  Every January we invite students, faculty, staff, and the public, to view the outcome of our gardening efforts in the "Natural Dye Studio" exhibition, located in the Jill Stuart Gallery, Terrace Level of the Human Ecology Building.  

Plants in the Natural Dye Garden

The following plants are currently growing in the garden providing us with natural dyes.

Indigo plant

Indigo, indigofera tinctoria, Bean Family Fabaceae
Leaves yield various shades of blue dye

Hopi Sunflower

Hopi Sunflower, Helianthus annuus, Aster Family Asteraceae
Seeds produce blue, black and purple dye and the leaves give a range of yellow to green

Dyer’s Chamomile

Dyer’s Chamomile, Anthemis Tinctoria, Daisy Family
Flowers and stocks yield shades of yellow to yellow-green

Yellow Bedstraw

Yellow Bedstraw, Galium verum, Rubiaceae Family
Flowers and stalks yield shades of yellow, while the roots give shades of coral to orange

Purple Basil

Purple Basil, Ocimum basilcum cultivars, Lamiaceae Family
Stocks yield shades of purple, mauve, brown, and green


Marigold, Tagetes species, Daisy Family
Flowers yield shades of yellow, gold, and brown


Madder, Rubia tinctorum, Rubiaceae Family
Roots yield shades of red, salmon, orange, and coral


Cosmos, Cosmos sulphureus, Daisy Family
Flowers yield shades of orange and golden orange

working in the de garden
plucking flowers
flower heads
boiling flowers
extracting color from flowers
gathering unspun wool
flower color collages
flower and dye samples
natural dye garden in bloom
student turning over soil in garden
school students visit the dye garden