Plant-Dyed Easter Eggs

Many of us are home now, either with more time on our hands, or scrambling to balance working from home while the kids are home. I published this post two years ago, but wanted to refresh it and share it all again, hoping that it can bring some joy to us in this weirdness.

Some of you know that in my plant-obsessed world, I also dabble in “fiber arts” – knitting, dyeing, spinning, weaving – and dyeing with plants is a glorious intersection. Different parts of certain plants can be used for their pigment, be it the root, flower, leaves or fruit. When dyeing fiber, colorfastness needs to be taken into consideration, but with eggs, that doesn’t matter! For that reason, it’s a wonderful first project in natural dyeing.

Beets, cabbage, turmeric and blueberry tea were all I needed to make the rainbow! The project took two hours from idea conception to cleanup. I only wanted a dozen eggs so I didn’t need a lot of supplies. Here’s my no-fuss process:

Pink/Red: That’s easy. Beets! I roughly diced one beet and boiled in a few inches of water. Strained out veg and added a splash of vinegar to the liquid. 

Orange: I attempted orange by mixing the dye baths of above beets and below turmeric. I’d say it was successful. 

Yellow: Also super simple– I just microwaved a bowl of water with turmeric shaken in. Stir it around, add some vinegar. Voila. 

Green: We didn’t care much about green, so this came about by accident. I read online blueberry tea, or boiled blueberries, would make purple. After this happened, I looked at the ingredients on the tea…hibiscus, rosehips, blah blah blah and blueberry leaves last. Oh well! It dyed the egg mostly grey, but in certain light it looks muted green. Not the purple I was looking for, but oh well. 

Blue (below): I was very skeptical about this one! Red cabbage? I put red cabbage in kimchi recently and it turned the whole jar a vibrant fuchsia. How would it dye eggs blue? Online, people boasted of turquoise, deep navy and robin’s egg blue from this veggie.  I chopped a third of the red cabbage into chunks and set to simmer in a little pan of water.  The dye bath was a deep purple, but vinegar turned it pink, so I made more cabbage juice. I think for a darker color, I needed a more concentrated dye bath. But I think it’s pretty anyway–lessons for next time! 

Everything was left to sit overnight except one each turmeric and beet to compare the colors after varying steeping times. See below the difference in beet-dyed eggs. The purpley one on the far left was soaked overnight, but I wiped it off with a towel to clean it up a bit. Middle was soaked for only 30 minutes. The rightmost, third egg was overnight soaked and not washed off.

three varying shades of pink/purple eggs with a beet under them

The magic of flowers and plants is seemingly never-ending. Happy Spring / Happy Easter — even though we all have to modify these days, I hope that you can video chat with loved ones or do a egg hunt around the house or in the woods — anything that brings you joy and a sense of renewal.

Welcome, cheery colors and warming sun. Welcome, this phase of new growth and fresh beginnings.