My kids are at such a fun age where they are just like little sponges – ready to learn and soak up any information that they can. They are natural inquirers, always wanting to know how and why things work the way that they do. This past Earth Day they were able to plant their own garden at school, and as a result we have been talking a lot about how plants grow. So when Walmart challenged me to create a fun spring project, I thought that we should use food coloring to create a colorful spring bouquet – and learn a little science lesson in the process!
This simple project only requires 3 things:
1. Food coloring (not the gel kind)
2. Several small bud vases
3. White flowers
Easy, right? I was able to pick up all of my materials at Walmart. I found the food coloring over by the spices, the bud vases in the craft section for $1.27 each (what a steal!), and the flowers were up front by the entrance on an end cap. A one-stop shop – perfect!
Once I had my materials it was time to get to work. For each 1/2 cup of warm water, I added 20-30 drops of food coloring, then stirred with a spoon to make sure that it was all dissolved. The more food coloring you use, the more concentrated it will be, and the more vibrant your flowers will turn out. If you prefer a more pastel look, use less food coloring. When it was ready, I poured each color of water into a separate vase.
Then I trimmed the bottom of each flower at an angle under some running water, to reopen the stem so it would be able to soak up the maximum amount of color. Whatever you do, please don’t skip this step – it is vital!
The carnations went in white, but within an hour they were already starting to show signs of color. The photo directly above was taken exactly 60 minutes after the flowers were put into the colored water.
About 2 hours in, my kids started to notice even more color, with most of it collecting at the tips of the petals.
We let them stay in the food coloring overnight, until they reached a full 24 hours of bathing in color. This is what we came home to the next day!
So how does it work? As water moves up the stem of the plant to the leaves and petals, it eventually evaporates off of the petals, which is the reason the plant continues to draw more water up into the stem – to continue this cycle and replenish the water that has evaporated. When the flowers are placed in colored water, the same process takes place but only the water is able to evaporate from the petals, leaving the food coloring behind. This also explains why, as the flowers spend more time in the water, their color becomes more vibrant. Amazing, isn’t it?
After 24 hours we removed our flowers from the bud vases and rinsed the stems. I trimmed the stems again just a bit, then placed them in a larger vase with fresh water and voila! A beautiful spring bouquet for your table, and a cool science lesson for the kids!