It’s always summer somewhere in the world and this is a great activity that lets you create your own special flowers in the colors you choose. Gather up some carnations, some daisies or pretty much any white flower and some food coloring and have some fun coloring flowers. They make a fun science gift for anyone. If you really want to get crazy try using two colors on the same flower. This can get tricky since you’ll have to figure out how to split the stem so each colored water travels up it’s own section of the flower stem. The results can be unpredictable!
What you need:
- 6 white flowers (carnations, daisies, etc)
- 4 plastic cups
- Food coloring (red, yellow, blue, and green)
- Adult helper
What to do:
- Fill each cup 1/2 full with water
- Add about 20-30 drops of food coloring to each cup of water (more food coloring is better here)
- Have an adult trim the end of the flowers off at an angle to create a fresh cut.
- Place one freshly cut flower in each of the cups of colored water. Save the remaining carnations for the next step.
- The next step is called “Split Ends”. Have an adult helper split the stem right down the middle. Put each half of the stem into a different cup of colored water.
- Check back every few hours to see if the flowers are changing colors. It may take up to 24 hours for the color to change.
- Which color will be soaked up first?
- How long will it take?
- Will the colors mix in the “Split Ends” flowers?
- What do the flowers look like?
What’s the science?
Most plants “drink” water from the ground through their roots. Water travels up the stem into the leaves and flowers. When a flower is cut, the roots are no longer there, but the stem will still “drink” up the water.
There are two things that combine to move water through plants…transpiration and cohesion. Transpiration is the evaporation of water from the leaves, buds, and petals. Just like when you suck on a straw, where your mouth provides the suction, the evaporating water pulls the water up. Because water sticks to itself (cohesion) it flows up the stem.
Coloring the water allows you to see the movement of water through the roots to the leaves. Like colored dyes in this experiment, some chemicals that pollute our waters can get into the soil and ground water and affect the health of our vegetables and plants growing in the soil.