Hopi Red Dye Amaranth

Hopi Red Dye Amaranth seeds (amaranthus cruentus) is an edible plant, as well as a dye plant!  However the beautiful color it imparts is not very lightfast on textiles. It was originally grown as a dye plant by the southwestern Hopi Nation.  This variety has the reddest seedlings of any amaranth grown, so people like to grow it for consumption in micro-green mixes.  The Hopi used the deep-red flower bract as a natural dye to color their piki bread.

The plant grows from 3-5’ in height and has beautiful deep red flowers, and dark red foliage and stems.  The flowers will produce tiny, numerous black seeds, that are edible, but there are preferable strains of Amaranth that grow much larger seeds for consumption!  Plant this plant in full sun after all danger of frost is past.  Sow only ¼” deep.  Germination is 4-14 days.

You can use the whole plant, flowers, stems and leaves for dyeing, and with the use of heat, I got a nice, bright vivid orange dye on wool.  For a pink dye, you can put the stems in a clear jar with your yarn, fabric or wool that has been mordanted, and let it sit in the sun for a while.  If you introduce too much heat during the dyeing process, the color will turn orange. So, do low heat or no heat to get pretty pinks.