Making natural plant-based paints for children (watercolours)

So, as easy as it is to head to the shops and buy some paints for your kids, why not try making some paints from scratch? These are all-natural, with no nasty chemicals, and no packaging to throw away. The whole process is a huge adventure and your children will have so much fun!

This was our first attempt at making plant-based paints, and we started out by foraging for some plants in our garden, and we found a plentiful supply of weeds to use! If you have a colourful, cottage garden, you could try out some of the flowers you have there too, you could even research the best plants to use for dyes and start a little garden to grow them.

A little bit of googling will tell you the best plants to use to achieve certain colours, and also the best ways to prepare them. Personally, for us we were just experimenting, and for our first attempt, I didn’t want to be bothered with boiling or soaking plants for hours.

What you will need:
  • Selection of plants, leaves, bark, whatever you have to hand
  • Selection of glass jars to mix your paint in
  • Brushes/Paper to paint with
  • Palette
  • Spoon to squish berries if using (or fingers would be fine)
  • Pestle and mortar to grind down some of the materials (or could use scissors)

Here is our journey:

The plants we picked:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum ) – Flowers and leaves
  • Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)


We ground up the flower heads with the pestle and mortar,

and then placed the mixture into one of our glass jars with a little boiling water – just to cover up the plant material (the less water you use, the stronger the colour will be)


The strawberries, we started off by squashing with a spoon, but ended up placing in the mortar and grinding them up as it was more efficient.

We then poured some of the liquid from each glass jar into the palette dimples

Then we were ready to start painting! Brushes, and/or fingers worked really well, as well as just grabbing a handful of the plant pulp and rubbing it over the paper!

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The paint is rather like watercolour paint, with just a hint of colour, quite earthy and natural, I have no doubt that with better research in terms of the best plants to use, and the best preparation methods, these paints could be used and stored as everyday paints. For us, this was a first experiment, and most of the fun was in the journey, with no real desire for a spectacular end product!

Ethical Koala

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