Have you ever wondered how to color flowers? It’s super easy, and it’s actually cheaper than buying specialty colored flowers at a florist. Below you will see how quick and easy it is, as well as get the scientific explanation for whats happening. Coloring flowers can be a great science fair project, or fun home school activity. In our case – we just wanted some pretty green flowers for St. Patrick’s Day! So we chose to use green dye!
1) If you are coloring your flowers as a science experiment, be sure to save some flowers to put in plain clear water as a control group! you can most easily color white roses or white carnations. I think carnations are better for using with dye because the points of their ruffles really pick up the colors, and they are also nearly 1/3 cheaper to buy!
2) Did you know some food coloring dyes travel faster than others? They do. And in fact green is one of the very slowest. We made sure to color our water a very dark shade of green. Remember that whatever color you start with its color will be lightened by the white petals- so darker is usually more vibrant and easy to see. Be sure to cut your stems so that they are ready to drink up whatever colored water you chose!
3) We started to see some color in our carnation in the first 24 hours, with color most heightened about 5 days later. Check them out! And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!
Explanation for Young Learners:
Coloring the carnations water with food coloring does not harm it in any way, but it does allow us to see the movement of water through the stem of the flower, that acts as a straw – drinking up the water that the plant needs. Just like colored dyes in this experiment, some chemicals that pollute our water can get into the soil and ground water and contaminate our vegetables and plants growing in soil. Some chemicals and pollutants, just like the color dyes, travel up into the plant and affect its health or growth. This is one reason why it’s so important to take care of our environment!
Explanation of the color change experiment for older learners: There are two main things that combine to move water through plants — they are called transpiration and cohesion. Water evaporating from the leaves, buds, and petals (transpiration) pulls water up the stem of the plant. In this case, our carnation. This works in the same way as sucking on a straw does. Water that evaporates from the leaves “pulls” other water behind it up to take the space left by the evaporating water, but instead of your mouth providing suction (as with a straw) the movement in the carnation is due to evaporating water. This can happen because water sticks to itself (water cohesion) and because the tubes in the plant stem are super tiny. This process is called capillary action.
In this science experiment the carnations placed in plain water are your “control” group. When you add other carnations to water with the food dye in it, you have added a “variable.” By making comparisons between these two groups you will have come up with “data” for your experiment! Looking for another fun science experiment for kids? Try the Egg & toothpaste experiment!
Not only can science be fun for kids – it can also make a pretty cool bouquet of flowers 😉