Making Natural Plant Dye using Buddleia davidii

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP – Living in Natures Love Lifestyles


Commonly called the Butterfly Bush in our #yyj region, the plant parts of the Buddleia davidii can be used to create deep shades of yellow dye for paper, wool and fabrics.  In the above photo I chose to dye 2 pieces of cotton fabric using different parts of this trees plant material. The fabric on the left is a dye made from the flowers of this tree and the fabric on the right is created from the branches and leaves.  The deeper color on the left reminds me of the vibrant colors often worn by Tibetan Buddhist Monks.

Creating plant dye naturally is fun, simple, educational and easy.  I wish they would engage kids in our classrooms in their art or science classes!  

The steps to  create the dye – you can substitute other flowers, leaves, stems and roots!  

  1. I began by picking diminishing flowers from a friends tree remembering to  cut higher up the branch to get limbs and leaves.
  2. Separating them into two batches and putting them into two large pots.  The flowers in one and the leaves and limbs in another.
  3. Filling the pots with water completely covering the plant materials and heated to a boil.  Once boiling turned down to simmer for 20 minutes and then left to sit overnight.
  4. The plant materials where then strained out leaving the liquid to infuse the material.

The dye bath created from the flowers was thicker and much deeper in color than the bath created from the leaves and limbs.

Here are some samples of the dye bath water at intervals.:  The first picture was taken immediately after adding water to the pot and covering the materials.  Each of the next photos were taken as the water came to a boil at 5 to 10 minute intervals.



The material was added to the natural dye water and brought up to a boil on the *stove and reduced to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  This was then left to sit for a number of hours (overnight).  You can leave this to sit longer.  I have left dye infusions to sit for a few days to obtain a solid colour.

*I have begun to explore with solar energy to dye by placing a glass jar of water, plant parts and material in the sun to heat and sit infusing!  Wouldn’t this be interesting for children?

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Butter Fly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP –  – Living in Natures Love Lifestyles






In Chinese Herbology it is known as the ‘eye guardian’

  • Symbolizes:  Transformation, rebirth, build charisma & activate power of attraction
  • Uses:  Edible, Dye, Tea, Medicinal, Tincture, Flower Essence, Eye Wash
  • Parts used:  Flowers, Leaves & Roots
  • Preparation:  Flower Tea, Flower Essence, Add to Rice to improve or dye it yellow, syrups

Associated with:  Brow Chakra

In our region of  Greater Victoria, #yyj, the beautiful flowering Butterfly Tree has recently been labelled as invasive.   Each tree is covered with flowers from July to September and if the blossoms are left to go to seed,  they spread and sprout easily in our growing conditions.  The new growth has spread at a rate that the new trees are endangering our native species.

The above pictured Butterfly Tree is one I rescued from a culvert before I learned it was labelled invasive.  It was less than a foot high and in the second year I accidentally cut the top off when pruning.  I thought that would be the end of it however,  another branch bent over and shoots grew upright and branched out.  This tree growth is only the third year!  It is very easy to grow and now I  understand why it has been categorized as invasive.

Originally from Asia where it is used medicinally for an eye and liver treatment.  It is also used to infuse in teas.  In North America it is popular for using as a natural dye and create sweet syrups.

Buy Heirloom Butterfly Bush Seeds 

#yyj Non-Native Winter Flowering Edible & Medicinal Shrubs

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Traditional uses and properties of herbs are for educational purposes only.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. Any serious health concerns or if you are pregnant, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs.

Copyright 2014 – 2019  Living in Nature’s Love by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP,
Feldenkrais® Practitioner since 2007, Communication & Empathy Coach since 2004, Art of Placement  since 2000