1) Biology of Weld It is a biennial and grows up to five feet in height. The long spikes with small pale yellow flowers start appearing in early June, and they many attract bumble bees and other insects.
2) History of Weld Dyeing Weld is an ancient dye plant. Apparently it was used to dye the robes of the Vestal Virgins in Roman times.
When over-dyed with woad, it produces Lincoln Green, which is supposed to have been used to dye the clothes worn by Robin Hood and his band in the 13th century.
3) Cultivation of Weld It is best to sow the fine black seeds in a tray of compost and it is important not to cover them with soil, as they are then unlikely to germinate. Watering the seeds with the rose of a watering can will cover them enough. These seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate, so keep the soil moist and be patient.
When the seedlings are large enough, plant them out in their final position. Weld does not particularly like a rich soil.
If it is attacked by asparagus beetles, I spray it with liquid derris. Back to Top
4) Harvesting Weld I start harvesting the leaves and flower stalks from July onwards, and whilst it is flowering, but while the plant is still green. The colour is more concentrated in the leaves, flowers and seed capsules; the stalks do not have much colour. Old, dried-up weld plants give a dull yellow. Back to Top
5) Storing Weld Dye If I have grown more weld than I can use fresh, I dry it. I harvest the plant whilst the leaves are still green, and put the stalks and leaves to dry in my greenhouse. When the leaves have become brittle, I put gloves on and run my hands along the stalks, stripping off the dry leaves and then throw away the stalks.