Colourful Carnations

Colourful Carnations

Carnations belong to a large group of plants that we call vascular in that they have tubes for moving water and minerals through the plant. This tubular system allows plants to take in nutrients from the roots and transport them upwards.

Carl Linnaeus described the carnation in volume one of his book, Species Plantarum, in 1753.

Things you might need:

White carnations
Food colouring - try to get a range of strong colours
Vases, empty bottles or jars

Activity details:

Ages: All
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Running time: 2-3 days

Learning points:

The functions of different parts of a plant
Transport of water and minerals from the roots and the stem

How to make colourful carnations:

  1. Fill each vase around a quarter full of water.
  2. Add a reasonable amount of food colouring (15-20 drops) to each vase — or more if your vases are large.
  3. Cut the carnations to fit the vases — make sure you trim the stems at an angle.
  4. Add the carnations to each vase and leave them for at least 24 hours.

Top tips!

At the end of the experiment examine the whole plant carefully, including the stem, leaves and petals. The petals of the carnations should have changed colour due to the transport of the dyed water up through the stem and into the petals.

The process of water uptake and transport is vital to all vascular plants’ survival.

Pontic rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum, illustrated in Thorton, Temple of Flora (1812).