Several flowers boast legendary abilities for cleaning, conditioning or dyeing hair. While not all of these flowers have scientifically-validated credentials, you may enjoy trying some of the more well-known floral hair treatments. Always use pesticide-free flowers in skin and hair recipes. The flower infusions and decoctions you make may seem too strong or weak for your hair; adjust water or botanicals to suit your needs.
Perhaps the most famous of all the "hair herbs," chamomile flowers reportedly lightens blonde hair when used regularly. To make a chamomile rinse, pour 4 cups of boiling water over a generous handful (about 1 oz.) fresh chamomile flowers and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the flowers and allow the liquid to cool. Use the liquid after shampooing to rinse hair, perhaps adding a tablespoon of lemon juice for a further lightening effect. Herbalist Lesley Bremness notes that chamomile also conditions hair, lessens dandruff and eases scalp irritation. Grow it in a sunny patch and walk on it regularly; the apple-scented leaves delight the senses and only seem to grow hardier the more they are trod upon. Other flowers noted for their hair-brightening abilities for blondes include mullein flowers and cowslip, while blue hollyhock flowers apparently cuts the brassiness of badly-dyed hair.
Also known as marigold, calendula possesses a number of healing and cosmetic properties, especially for complexions and minor wounds. The sunny flower also works well as a conditioning hair rinse for oily hair when prepared as in the chamomile recipe. To use calendula petals to boost color in red hair, make a paste by boiling 1 oz. petals in 1 cup water for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and add enough kaolin powder to make a smooth paste. When the liquid cools enough to handle, put on rubber gloves and work the mixture into hair, roots to ends. Cover your hair with an old towel and plastic bag. Leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing. Grow calendula flowers a foot apart in a sunny area, and harvest the petals any time during the growing season. Make sure to grow the marigolds known as Calendula officinalis, not Tagetes, or common marigolds.
Just as lavender flowers work wonders on oily complexions, the herb helps condition greasy hair. Make an infusion for a hair rinse using the chamomile recipe. Alternatively, use the infusion (doubling the amount of botanicals, if you wish) for between-shampoo cleaning. Dip clean gauze or cotton balls into the cooled liquid and pat through hair, focusing on the scalp and roots. Grow lavender in a sunny area, making sure not to over-water or fertilize it. Rose petals or orange blossoms may be substituted for lavender.
According to "The Green Witch Herbal" author Barbara Griggs, Americans often overlook the beautifying benefits of sulphur-rich nasturtium, both as a food and for topical applications. "It is highly regarded by French herbalists, who recommend it for every kind of hair problem, from excess greasiness to thinning and weakening of the hair," Griggs notes. She suggest simmering a handful of the fresh nasturtium flowers (and leaves and stems, if desired) in about 4 cups of water, then using the strained, cooled liquid either as a friction rub or a post-shampoo rinse. Alternatively, chop and crush 4 oz. fresh nasturtium flowers and steep in 1 pint vodka for at least two weeks. Bottle the strained liquid and use at least twice a week to massage the scalp. Nasturtiums are easy to grow, and seem to thrive in poor soil with either sun or part shade. Give these vining annuals a lightweight trellis, or place them in a planter box and let them trail down.