Anchusa officinalis – ‘Alkanet’ or ‘Bugloss’
The bark of the roots yields a weak brownish-red or lilac dye. It is not as strong as its cousin Alkanna tinctoria (dyer’s alkanet) the seeds of which are difficult to source.
Seeds should be sown directly outdoors where it is to grow in late spring to late summer. They prefer well-drained soil in full sun or part shade.
Sow directly into a weed-free soil that is low in fertility. Prepare the area by removing any weeds or stones where they are to grow and rake to a fine tilth. Sow thinly – about 1/4 inch deep in drills and about 12 inches apart.
They prefer poor soil so do not fertilize. Thin out superfluous seedlings so that the plants are at least 12 inches apart and will have sufficient space to spread satisfactorily.
- Flowers: Sapphire blue. June – September.
- Height: 60cm (24 inches)
- Full sun or part shade
- Family: Boraginaceae
- The soil should be kept moist and prefers a pH between 6 and 7.
The plants bear a basal rosette of lanceolate leaves in the first year and in the second year, a large number of erect stems appear. The flowers have red tinges before turning a deep sapphire blue. They are attractive to wildlife.
Alkanet is easy to care for, however, wear gloves when handling as the plants are covered in little hairs which can irritate the skin.
Results from this dye plant are unpredictable and I will share my findings with you in a future blog when I have experimented some more. If you have any results from your own experiences with alkanet please share.
0.5g approx 50 seeds £3.25