What is the effect of food colouring on a plant?

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What is the effect of food colouring on a plant?
(Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

People add food colouring to water used to water plants in order to alter the colour of the plant. This alteration is done to show children how plants absorb water or to make white flowers more colourful and decorative.

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Effects on growing plants

Adding food colouring to a growing plant may slightly alter the colour of the plant, according to the University of Illinois.

What is the effect of food colouring on a plant?
The main effect of food colouring on potted plants or plants still in the ground is a slight colour change. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of sudarshan vijayaraghavan)

Effects on cut stems

Fresh cut flowers, especially white or light-coloured ones, will change colour when food colouring is added to their water.

What is the effect of food colouring on a plant?
White flowers in a vase can be tinted the most by food colouring. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic)

Dye injection

Different colours of food colouring can be injected into different areas of a white flower stem to produce rainbow-coloured flowers. These flowers are often sold as novel decorative bouquets.


According to the University of Illinois, food colouring will not harm plants.


The food colouring dissolves in the plant's water supply and is absorbed by the plant along with the water. The colourful water is drawn up the plant's stem and distributed within the plant's leaves and petals.

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