top of page

Ten Top Tips for Successful Botanical Eco Prints

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

One of the many glories of botanical eco printing is its element of surprise ... we use sustainable natural processes which seem to have their own mind at times, within certain general principles and parameters. Many of the surprises which greet us on opening a bundle or stack are pleasant and welcome. Others can be not-so-welcome!

Here are some general tips which will increase the chances of achieving successful, lasting, clear prints, but they are not a guarantee. Serendipity is always lurking, tantalising us.

In setting these out, I'm not intending to suggest that prints should always be clear.. you may well want to create a more painterly effect. However, the questions I get asked most often are "why are my prints such a mess/so disappointing?" [or words to that effect]. If we know which factors affect our prints, we can knowingly vary them if we wish to. I certainly play with some of these factors when printing on paper, for example, to achieve more watery, painterly effects at times.

1. Use natural fibres

Nature’s pigments don’t like to hang around with synthetic fibres… the fibre structure just isn’t right, and doesn’t normally enable the absorption and retention of natural pigments.

There are two types of natural fibres: animal [silk, wool] or plant based [cotton, linen, bamboo, viscose, paper]. They interact differently with natural dyes and pigments because their fibre composition and structure are different. Leaves from the same plant can print very differently on different natural fibres.

Preloved plant fibres in household linen and clothing can take prints particularly well, if well prepared. Go rummaging in charity, second hand or ‘op’ shops for those gems!

Remember that some man made fibres such as viscose and rayon are made of natural fibres. Paper also takes prints relatively easily, whether made from wood pulp or cotton.

2. Scour your cloth

3. Use an appropriate mordant, if needed

4. Know your leaves!

5. Not too wet

6. Not too dry

7. Tight contact between fibre and foliage

8. Apply heat carefully and keep an eye on it!

9. Use a resist/barrier

10. Steady as you go.. one step at a time!

Thanks for reading. I hope you have found these top tips useful and that they will minimise your disappointments. Take account of them, but above all enjoy your printing!

Please let me know if you find these tips useful, or have any comments/points to add. You can email me at

Maggie Pearson

By Maggie Naturally

25 August 2022

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page