Growing Japanese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria)

2022 marks my 6th year of growing indigo, and I’ve learned a TON over the past 5 growing seasons. No doubt, I'll continue learning with every seed I plant. 

My first year, 2017, I had no idea what I was doing but still managed to grow some pretty plants. I had collected the seeds from plants at the Indiana University student dye garden, called Color Field, the previous fall. Original seeds came from Rowland Rickets, esteemed professor and amazing indigo artist. The plants I harvested seed from are known as Japanese indigo (Persicaria tinctoria), and it is an annual that I need to replant every year.

The first year, I planted seeds indoors, sat them next to a south facing window and hoped for the best. I was so excited when these scrappy little guys came up!

 

When they were ready to transplant, I used one of my garden boxes and a small fabric planter for the “extra” seedlings I had. Notice the grass is still there – yah, that’s all gone now. If it doesn’t produce color or attract pollinators, I don’t have time for it. I digress… For some reason, I only have one picture of my indigo from 2017, and it was taken at night. Not the best quality, but I’m still proud of that first little plot.

At the time, I didn’t know that you could extract indigo in small quantities, so I was just growing it to do fresh leaf dyeing on silk.

 

Then, I stumbled upon the INDIGO PIGMENT EXTRACTION METHODS GROUP on Facebook, and my whole world changed! If you grow indigo, no matter what kind of indigo or what part of the world you grow in, this group is an amazing resource. Shout out to Britt Boles  for creating such an amazing world-wide community around getting the blue outa the green! If you're on Instagram, I highly recommend following her. She's @seaspellfiber, or you can click on her name and it will take you right to her account.

 

Just in case you can't read that eentsy font under the group name, there are currently 7.4K group members. And they are the most kind and generous people out there. If you're not a member, click on the pic or the link above and join right now! 

Starting with next week’s blog, I’ll begin a series of posts that focus on how I grow, extract, and use my indigo. Here’s an artsy-fartsy parting shot of some of this year’s seedlings.

That's from a couple weeks ago, looking in through their protective dome.

Until next week, I wish you abundant love and colors!