Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw Indian words "okla" meaning people and "humma" meaning red. Oklahoma is my home. Tinctoria is Latin, meaning to dye or color things; this is my work.

11 August 2010

Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, Part VIII

Japanese Indigo, lower garden bed, 2010.

Part VIII: Polygonum Progression

I admit, of all the dye plants I chose to grow for Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, Polygonum tinctorium is the species which I had the least expectations for its survival in Oklahoma. After all, we are a long way from Japan. On the other hand, I assumed Woad, Isatis tinctoria, to be the hands-down no problem plant but it is plagued with the same issues I am having with Weld in the clay loam soil (see ‘Part VII: Weld Rescue’). Luckily I was so confident about Woad’s ability to survive that I planted seed in my sandy loam “wild country garden” and it is happy taking care of itself.

Polygonum tinctorium, early June, 2010.

Polygonum tinctorium, early July, 2010.

So I am very pleased to say that the Japanese Indigo appears to like Oklahoma! It  likes nutritious pH neutral ground and does not seemed bothered by our clay loam soil. The unusual amount of rainfall is most likely working in my favor, but so far it is healthy, growing and abundantly beautiful. The leaves are dark green, rich and lush looking. They are about 28" tall by mid July. The mulch is doing an excellent job of suppressing the darn morning glory vines that come up everywhere.

Indigo Tops, early July, 2010.

Dark and Lush Polygonum Leaves,
mid July, 2010.

Initially there were some mealy bugs, those white suckers, but they were everywhere and not only in my garden but friend’s gardens as well. I  let them be and they sorted out their natural balance.

Mealy bug invasion, 2010.

Possible Leaf Curl, June, 2010.

Grasshopper on first Polygonum Flower,
mid July, 2010

On 11th of July, within days after posting ‘First Flowers’ (see ‘Part VI: First Flowers’) we discovered the first Polygonum tinctorium flower! Tiny little pink flowers just beginning to open. They are very beautiful. The first cutting of the leaves is around the corner.

Close-up of first Polygonum Flower, 2010.

Polygonum tinctorium, 2010.

Polygonum tinctorium, mature plants, 2010.


  1. Your Japanese Indigo looks very healthy. May you get plenty of blue from it-I am sure you will.

  2. This is very exciting, and inspiring. I wonder if with great care, I could have any luck with this plant in Canada. Probably not - but am really happy to see so much of it in your photos. Thanks for sharing them.