Madder Rubia tinctorum
Climbing evergreen perennial native to the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Hardy to -5 degrees F. The plant is a classic element of the Medieval garden, completely unique, wending its way along the ground or draping on fence or trellis. The yellow, star-like flowers are produced in the second year after which the roots may be dug. Madder root contains the anthraquinone pigment alizarin, which is responsible for its popularity as a fine red dyeplant (The English “red coats” owed their visability to this plant!).
Certified organic, 20 seeds/pkt
Photo by H. Zell
Planting & Care
Soil & Water: Plant prefers very fast draining soil and full sun. It is very drought tolerant and will thrive for weeks in a sunny, well-drained bed without any water at all.
Planting & Growing: Sow seed in fall or spring. Sow 1/2 inch deep and tamp securely, then keep evenly moist and in the sun until germination, which may take up to 3 weeks. The seeds may be sown in pots (3 per pot, thin to the best seedling) or direct seeded at 3 inches apart, then transplant or thin to 1 foot apart. The plant will appreciate a trellis, mainly because this will give you, the gardener, space to cultivate around the plants, which stimulates them.
Harvesting & Storage: Harvest root for dyes when 3 years old.