Painted Daisies :: Simple Science Experiments for Kids

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Painted Daisies Science Experiment for KidsWe finally dyed white flowers with food coloring!

Or liquid watercolors, rather.

This is one of two activities that remained undone from a list of 31 artful activities that I made two years ago. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time before now.

Yeah, that must be it.

This is one of our favorite simple science experiments for kids!

MATERIALS

Dye Flowers

First, we picked our daisies from the backyard and put each in a glass jar with an inch or so of water.

Dye Flowers

Then Maia added liquid watercolors to dye the flowers, one color per jar. Yellow. Magenta. Purple, Turquise. And then some red food coloring for the last flower since we were out of red liquid watercolors but wanted to try the color.

Dye Flowers

The flowers started changing color within the hour!

I wasn’t expecting such quick results. I thought it would be one of those subtle science experiments where the color changes very slightly over several days. But no, it changed fairly quickly.

Dye Flowers

It was really pretty fascinating.

And I had to dredge up some basic biology to explain why the color in the water appears in the petals. About how the flowers suck water up through the stem and the water evaporates out of the petals, but the food coloring can’t evaporate. I may even have used the word “transpiration” and I can just hope I said it in the right context.

Dye Flowers

By the end of the afternoon, all the flowers had taken on their paint colors to varying degrees, with blue being the star of the show.

Dye Flowers

Have you tried this?

Update: We’ve since done this experiment with two to three colors PER flower by splitting the stem. Super cool! To see how we did it, check out our post about the patriotic flowers we made for 4th of July Decorations.

I’m loving all these artful and simple science experiments for kids!

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Comments

  1. Rachel says

    super fun! now i just need to find some flowers… you better hold onto the ones in your yard! ;)

  2. says

    We have done this. It works quicker when the stems are short like that–we didn’t cut our carnations short enough and it took a really long time for the color to show up in the petals. If you cut a bit off the bottom of one of the stems, Maia can look at it through a loupe or magnifying glass and see how the color is in the stem, too. That should help her see how the stem acts like a straw. My 7yo, in particular, loved looking at the stem & petals through the loupe.

  3. Nancy says

    One of my kids did this with celery (with the leaves attached) and food colouring at school. I suppose you could eat it if you want to as well. Mmm, edible science!
    I came across this website which has some interesting science experiments. The main emphasis is selling you science supplies and you have to search a bit harder to find the experiments but it is worth it in the end. http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/giant-bubble-experiment

  4. Nancy says

    Oh, and I thought of you when I saw this Sharpie marker tie dye tshirt “experiment” on the same website. I originally saw this on another website (that I hadn’t bookmarked) and they were drawing cute hearts and flowers with Sharpie markers before dispersing the colours with rubbing alcohol; although this website explains the science behind it better. http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000032

  5. Barbara Zaborowski says

    After you color the flower petals, you can put some bleach in water and make them white again. I haven’t tried it yet as I just learned about it, but definitely will next fall.

  6. Laurie says

    To take it one step further you can mix two colors, and if the dye components are chemically distinct, they will separate into bands. We did this with easter egg dyes one year and discovered the purple dye was actually a mix of red and blue. In the lab, this separation technique is called chromatography.

  7. says

    I love this experiment. Will have to buy some liquid food colouring next time I am at the shops. I’d love to be a primary school teacher if it wasn’t for the “having to look after 30 children” thing!!!

  8. says

    works with celery too! not as noticeable on green leaves but if you use red or blue dye you can definatly see the change.
    We’ve done this experiment several times and my kids always enjoy it.

  9. says

    We used to do that Sharpie marker dye thing on shirts at the kids camp I worked at. It is really fun and the kids loved it!

  10. says

    What a fun idea! We were pretty excited to try this today. Not sure why, but our daisies did not turn such brilliant colors as your did. Perhaps it was because they were nearing the end of their days. Also I am not sure of the proper edicate (I am quite new to this whole blogging thing) but I linked to your post on this as I thought this was such a great science project. Thanks! :-)

  11. Katrina says

    You just went in your backyard and picked those beautiful flowers!!?! I am in Texas and totally jealous–flowers/greenery are pretty non-existent right now due to the heat and drought. There are, however, wild yellow sunflowers. They stink terribly, but I wonder if they would absorb color the same way as the white ones do? I will try to find out tomorrow! I love that the change happens so quickly, perfect for my short-attention-spanned little ones.

  12. MIsty says

    my daughter wants to do this experiment for school what category would it fall under?? is it osmosis or evaporation? do you know where I could find out??