Dying Carnations: Fun Science Experiment for Kids

In addition to observing broccoli plants in bloom, we also watched a couple of carnations in water and food coloring this week as part of our week-long exploration of everything flower! This experiment (or really observation) demonstrates to kids how water moves through the parts of a plant. Your preschooler will be amazed at the transformation.

What You Will Need to Transform Your Flowers:

  • at least two white carnations
  • vases or mason jars
  • water
  • food coloring (a different color for each flower)
  • scissors

If your looking for more activities learning with flowers check out Painting with Flowers and Learning About Measurement with Flowers.

Conducting the Flower Experiment

Using at least two carnations (but feel free to use more if you wish) you have redundancy (in case one of the flowers wilts) as well as variation (you can observe more than one color).

Snip the bottom of each flower at an angle, so that when the flower stem rests at the bottom of the glass, there is lots of open surface area that is available to absorb water. Really sharp scissors are best for the health of the plant, so an adult should really do this step.

Place each flower in it's own vessel with a few ounces of water. You can have even very young children pour the water into the container themselves, if you give it to them in a measuring cup with a lip. Place copious amounts of food coloring (15+ drops) into each container. We started out with far too little food coloring at the beginning of the week, and had to add more as we went through the week.

Keep your experiment somewhere visible and accessible to your child. For us, this is at the dinning room table. We usually have three or four long term experiments and observations ongoing there. Include a magnifying glass so that your child can sit and get a closer look whenever they feel especially curious about it.

Need a book to go with this activity? Check out our roundup of books about flowers!

One way to extend this experiment, would be to create a kind of ombre effect. For example, if you were using five carnations, you could add the food coloring to one flower each day. By Friday, you would have five flowers all at different stages of the dying process. Of course, you would want to use only one color of food coloring for this variation, so that you could compare the extent of the coloration in each flower.

Looking for more science activities for children? Check out our Rust Experiment, Sound Guessing Game, Cloud in a Bag, 2 Ways, and Rain in a Jar.

Thank you for reading about our experiment dying carnations with food coloring. Have you ever tried this observation with your child? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this activity, feel free to share on social media. I always appreciate your support!


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