Harvesting Indigo for Dyeing
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mary Derm
Posted on: November 4, 2002

I bought some indigo seeds from you for growing dyeing plants. This is my first experience with indigo. My dye book says to pick the leaves for dyeing when the plant flowers. I think I got my plants started too late - they haven’t flowered yet & our temps are now getting down in the 30’s Fahrenheit (close to zero degrees Celsius) some nights (Kansas City, KS, USA). Should I go ahead & pick them & use them or might they still flower?

When the indigo plant flowers, the dye will be at maximum concentration in it. You can use it at earlier times, but you will have to use more of it to get the same results.

If your patch is not too large, you could cover it with a sheet of plastic or even cloth for nights when the temperatures are getting too close to freezing to take a chance. This way you can extend the growing season for up to a month - and maybe your plants will bloom yet. Be especially diligent during nights with a full moon and on nights when there is no cloud cover. Frosts are more frequent under those conditions. Also note that temperatures tend to come in about three day cycles of increasing or decreasing temperatures and you can act with greater confidence when you are expecting the freeze!

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