How To Make Colored Flowers

Easy and Fun Colored Flower Science Project

Rainbow Daisies: White daisies are especially easy to color using science.
Rainbow Daisies: White daisies are especially easy to color using science. Photo by Cathy Scola / Getty Images

It's easy to make your own colored flowers, especially carnations and daisies, but there are a couple of tricks that help ensure great results. Here's how you do it.

Colored Flower Materials

  • fresh flowers, preferably white - don't use wilted flowers since they might not be able to absorb water well. Good choices include daisies and carnations.
  • food coloring
  • warm water

You can use other colors of flowers besides white.

Just keep in mind the final color of the flower will be a mix of the nature pigments in the flower and the dye. Also, many flower pigments are pH indicators, so you can simply change the color of some flowers by putting them into water with baking soda (a base) or lemon juice/vinegar (common weak acids).

Make Colored Flowers

  • Trim the stems of your flowers so they aren't excessively long.

     

  • Make a slanted cut at the base of the stem under water. The cut is slanted so that the stem won't sit flat on the bottom of the container. A flat cut can prevent the flower from taking in water. Make the cut underwater to prevent air bubbles from forming in the tiny tubes at base of the stem, which would prevent water/color from being drawn up.

     

  • Add food coloring to a glass. You're looking at about 20-30 drops of food coloring per half cup of warm water. Warm water will be taken more readily than cold water.

     

  • Set the damp stem of the flower in the colored water. The petals should become colored after a few hours. It may take as long as 24 hours, however, depending on the flower.

     

  • You can set the colored flowers in plain water or flower preservative, but they will continue to drink water, changing the pattern of the color over time.

    Getting Fancy

    You can slit the stem up the middle and put each side in a different color to get bi-colored flowers. What do you think you will get if you put half of the stem in blue dye and half in yellow dye? What do you think will happen if you take a colored flower and put its stem in dye of a different color?

    How It Works

    A few different processes are involved in plant 'drinking' or transpiration. As water evaporates from flowers and leaves, the attractive force between water molecules called cohesion pulls more water along. Water is pulled up through tiny tubes (xylem) that run up a plant's stem. Although gravity might want to pull the water back down toward the ground, water sticks to itself and these tubes. This capillary action keeps water in the xylem in much the same way as water stays in a straw when you suck water through it, except evaporation and biochemical reactions provide the initial upward pull.

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    Your Citation
    Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How To Make Colored Flowers." ThoughtCo, Oct. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/how-to-make-colored-flowers-606178. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2016, October 2). How To Make Colored Flowers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-make-colored-flowers-606178 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How To Make Colored Flowers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-make-colored-flowers-606178 (accessed December 18, 2017).