I just love this color changing flowers science experiment! It is really easy to do and the kids love watching the flowers change color. We think it is the perfect science activity for spring!
I even created printable recording sheets that kids in preschool and early elementary can use to show their observations. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the post to get them.
Related: Walking Water Science Experiment
- Color Changing Flowers Experiment
- Color Changing Lantana Flowers – Why Do Lantana Flowers Change Color
- Color Changing Lantana Flowers
- Why Do Lantana Flowers Change Color?
- Chemistry of Color Changing Lantana Flowers
- Lantana camara
- Bush Lantana
- common lantana
- texas lantana
- trailing lantana
- lantana montevidensis
- lantana selections and hybrids
- Bandana series
- Chapel Hill Yellow
- Dallas Red
- Gold Mound
- Gold Rush
- Ham and Eggs
- Landmark series
- Lemon Swirl
- Lucky series
- Miss Huff
- New Gold
- Patriot series
- Silver Mound
- Spreading Sunset
- Spreading Sunshine
- Star Landing
- Sunny Side Up
- lavender popcorn
- Lantana Plant and Flower
Color Changing Flowers Experiment
We love a good science experiment and this one did not disappoint. It was really neat to watch the flowers change colors. If you are looking for a science activity to try this spring, you should definitely give this one a go!
- Free printable recording sheets (button to download at the bottom of this post)
- White carnations
- Liquid food coloring in a variety of colors
- To start you will want to trim down the stems of the flower so they fit your cups or glasses.
- Add water to each cup.
- Then put about 10-15 drops of food coloring in the water and stir around a bit.
- Add at least one carnation to each glass of colored water.
- Check in on the flowers every couple of hours and observe any changes.
Observing the Flowers Change Color
We did this color changing flower experiment in the early evening and we started to see changes within a couple of hours. Some of the flowers started showing faint streaks of color along their petals.
By the next morning, most of them were even more colorful. The flower in the purple water didn’t seem to be taking in much water, so I trimmed the stem a little more and it soon started showing more color in the petals.
The following day the color was even more vibrant.
We continued to watch the flowers over the next few days. They did get a bit brighter than the pics above, but never completely saturated in the color.
Next time, we plan to try even more food coloring to see if we get even more saturated colors. We also decided that we will try roses alongside carnations and see if one takes on the color better than the other.
There are lots of ways you can change-up the experiment. You can try doing several different flowers at once. Or you can try different amounts of food coloring.
How Do Plants Drink Water?
Plants drink water from the ground up through their roots. The water travels up the stem and into the petals of the flower. Although, our flowers didn’t have roots anymore they were still able to pull water up from the cup into the stem and up through the flower to the petals.
It is through capillary action that plants are able to defy gravity and pull water up and into their leaves and flowers.
To read more about capillary action, check out this awesome walking water science experiment!
We hope you’ll give this fun color changing flowers science experiment a try soon!
You can now change the flower color at home and at any time during the year. Let us understand the science behind this experiment.
How do flowers change color in food colors? Wondering how? Let’s try this natural science experiment with white roses.
Concepts Discussed Absorption of water in flowers / plants
Who is it for
This experiment can be done with preschoolers and they will love to make their hands colorful too. Other kids including Kindergarteners and 7 – 9-year-old kids can do this experiment, not just for fun but to learn some science as well. They can change the variables and see the changes in the results.
I tried this with my elder and younger daughter Pritika and Tisha when they were 6 years and 4 years old respectively.
What do you need to change the color of flowers?
- Food color – Liquid or you can mix water to make them liquid.
- Glass bottle or simply water glass.
- White flowers (in my case – roses).
We tried this experiment with both white roses and daisy flowers. For some reason, the daisy flower didn’t get the optimum result (we suspect the powder form of food coloring). But I will update on this more once I find out. Check for more white flowers here.
For now, lets see what did we do to make the color change in white roses.
Steps to follow
Step 1: Select a glass container (bottle or test tube or anything of that sort). Now just add few drops of food color of your choice. We chose Blue but that is completely up to you .
Step 2: Now I asked my elder daughter to pour enough water to the water glass. This would make a glass full of water with food color.
Step 3: This is an optional step. I cut the stem of the flower with a sharp knife. The cut needs to be in cross of the stem so that the cut part has enough exposed area to absorb water. Just make sure we have enough length to submerse it into the glass of food color. I took care of this step as I am not happy to give sharp knives to kids. If your kid is doing this step, just be attentive and watch over the kids.
Step 4: Now my younger daughter Tisha stepped in to do her part in the experiment. She carefully inserted the flowers in the food color filled glass. She started complaining that the color didn’t change. I explained her that it will take time.
We waited for an hour and couldn’t see any change in the flowers yet.
So we decided to sleep and came back in the morning. After 12 hours, the rose flower started showing significant amount of blue color in the petals. We also observed that the edge of the petals had more color than the inner side of it. It was so pretty that my younger one started jumping in joy.
We let the flower sit in the food color for additional 12 hours. After 24 hours, the flower had blue all over the petals and looked even more prettier. Mission Accomplished.
Science behind changing colors of flowers Why do flowers change color in food coloring?
Absorption of water happens through the xylem and these are tissues present as thin tubes inside the stem. Water is carried to other parts of the plant including flowers through the Xylem. Water travels to the xylem when the molecules in the xylem and the water molecules get attracted. It also happens due to solar energy and transpiration. Transpiration is a process that happens when the sunlight evaporates the water from the stems, leaves, and flowers. The loss in water from these parts will create a vacuum in the xylem tubes top and encourages the water to be absorbed for filling the empty space. Imagine the movement of any liquid when you drink them using a straw. Learn more from here.
Learn about the botanical characteristics of flowers from this page.
Please try this experiment and share your comments.
For more flower or experiments about nature check the links given below.
- Borax crystal flowers a new experiment for you to try
- Follow this link and make multi-colored chrysanthemums in blue, white and red. We used a vase swapping idea
- This experiment is a follow up to understand which flower absorbs the most vibrant colors.
- Dyeing bicolor flowersexperiment is almost the same as this one but with a twist
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Color Changing Lantana Flowers – Why Do Lantana Flowers Change Color
Lantana (Lantana camara) is a summer-to-fall bloomer known for its bold flower colors. Among wild and cultivated varieties, color can range from bright red and yellow to pastel pink and white. If you’ve seen lantana plants in gardens or in the wild, you’ve probably noticed multi-colored lantana flowers and flower clusters.
Different lantana varieties have different combinations of colors, but multiple colors are also often found on a single plant. Individual multi-colored lantana flowers also exist, with one color inside the tube and another on the outer edges of the petals.
Color Changing Lantana Flowers
Like many other members of the verbena plant family (Verbenaceae), lantana bears its flowers in clusters. The flowers on each cluster open in a pattern, beginning in the center and moving out toward the edge. Lantana flower buds typically look one color when they’re closed, then open to reveal another color underneath. Later, the flowers change color as they age.
Since a flower cluster has flowers of multiple ages, it will often display
different colors in the center and on the edges. You can observe lantana flowers changing color in your garden as the season advances.
Why Do Lantana Flowers Change Color?
Let’s think about why a plant might want to change the color of its flowers. A flower is a plant’s reproductive structure, and its job is to release and collect pollen so it can later produce seeds. Plants use flower color along with fragrance to attract their ideal pollinators, whether they are bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, or anything else.
A study by botanists H.Y. Mohan Ram and Gita Mathur, published in the Journal of Economic Botany, found that pollination triggers wild lantana flowers to begin changing from yellow to red. The authors suggest that the yellow color of open, unpollinated flowers directs pollinators to these flowers on a wild lantana.
Yellow is attractive to thrips, the top lantana pollinators in many regions. Meanwhile, magenta, orange and red are less attractive. These colors may turn thrips away from pollinated flowers, where the plant no longer needs the insect and where the insect won’t find as much pollen or nectar.
Chemistry of Color Changing Lantana Flowers
Next, let’s look at what is happening chemically to cause this lantana flower color change. The yellow in lantana flowers comes from carotenoids, pigments that are also responsible for the orange colors in carrots. After pollination, the flowers make anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that provide deeper red and purple colors.
For example, on a lantana variety called American Red Bush, red flower buds open up and display bright yellow interiors. After pollination, anthocyanin pigments are synthesized within each flower. The anthocyanins mix with the yellow carotenoids to make orange, then increasing levels of anthocyanins turn the flowers red as they age.
- Attributes: Genus: Lantana Species: camara Family: Verbenaceae Uses (Ethnobotany): The stalks are used as raw material for paper pulp. Lantana bark is astringent and used as a lotion in leprous ulcers and other skin eruptions. Lantana camara leaves are boiled and applied for swellings. Alkaloids from lantana have been found to stimulate intestinal movements, lower blood pressure and accelerate deep respiration. It has been found to have antimicrobial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. Life Cycle: Annual Perennial Recommended Propagation Strategy: Division Seed Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: native to the West Indies, Mexico to Tropical America Wildlife Value: Lantana flowers are very attractive to butterflies, berries are eaten by birds. Play Value: Attractive Flowers Attracts Pollinators Wildlife Food Source Dimensions: Height: 1 ft. 0 in. – 6 ft. 0 in. Width: 3 ft. 0 in. – 5 ft. 0 in.
- Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Annual Ground Cover Perennial Poisonous Shrub Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Deciduous Habit/Form: Arching Erect Prostrate Rounded Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: Low Texture: Medium
- Fruit: Fruit Color: Black Blue Green Purple/Lavender Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Type: Drupe Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: 0.3 in. orange or red fleshy berry-like drupe turns metallic blue or purple-black
- Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Orange Pink Purple/Lavender White Flower Inflorescence: Umbel Flower Value To Gardener: Fragrant Long Bloom Season Long-lasting Showy Flower Bloom Time: Fall Summer Flower Shape: Star Tubular Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: 1 – 2 in. spherical clusters of tubular white, red, pink, or yellow flowers, with five lobes in a flat-topped cluster on a long stalk.
- Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Rough Leaf Value To Gardener: Fragrant Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Whorled Leaf Shape: Ovate Leaf Margin: Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 3-6 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Simple, opposite or whorled, toothed, ovate, fragrant when crushed
- Stem: Stem Color: Green Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Cross Section: Square Stem Description: Spiny, square stems
- Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Container Houseplants Pool/Hardscape Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Cottage Garden Drought Tolerant Garden Pollinator Garden Design Feature: Accent Attracts: Butterflies Hummingbirds Pollinators Resistance To Challenges: Deer Drought Heat Humidity Salt Problems: Poisonous to Humans Problem for Cats Problem for Children Problem for Dogs Problem for Horses Weedy
- Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: Medium Poison Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, labored respiration; the leaves may cause dermatitis. Poison Toxic Principle: Triterpenes (lantadene A & B) Causes Contact Dermatitis: Yes Poison Part: Flowers Fruits Leaves Sap/Juice
The lantana is a prolific bloomer growing two to four feet tall and wide with sprawling branches that produce dramatic color during the warm season. The foliage is green, rough, and sometimes has prickly stems and leaves with rough hairs that emit a pungent aroma when crushed. This plant produces prolific flower clusters in an array of colors—yellow, orange, fuchsia, pink, white, and many multicolor varieties. Many hybrids are available. This nonstop bloomer produces flowers from early spring until the first frost. It often reseeds itself in areas of the landscape where water is available, and in some areas of the world it can be an invasive plant. In our Southwest deserts, however, it is a reliable, colorful shrub that provides enormous amounts color in spring, summer, and fall. Lantana can also be used as an accent, border, and foundation or container plant for dramatic color. It works well as a transition shrub in desert gardens and around pools and water features. The bush lantana is native to Australia and South Africa, where has become an invasive plant. It also grows naturally in the Gulf Coast region of Florida, warmer parts of Texas, and tropical areas all over the world.
Few plants supply as much long-lasting, dependable color as these tough-as-nails tropical American natives. Tiny flowers in tight clusters that resemble miniature nosegays appear continuously in warm weather. Foliage gives off a pungent odor when brushed against or crushed. Small fruit usually follows the flowers, maturing from green to bluish black; some selections are fruitless. Lantanas thrive in hot, dry weather and tolerate just about any well- drained soil, growing well even near the beach. They’re a magnet for butterflies. Plant them in masses, let them cascade over a wall, or display them in window boxes, hanging baskets, or planters. Deer don’t usually care for lantana species, but they may browse hybrid types.
- The most popular species in the South, and one of two used in hybridizing (the other is Lantana montevidensis).
- Coarse, upright plant to 6 feet tall and wide.
- Rough-textured, dark green leaves are oval and pointed, to 4 inches long.
- Yellow, orange, or red flowers in 1- to 2 inches clusters.
- Native to southern Texas and Mexico.
- Prickly, coarse shrub, to 3 feet (rarely 6 feet.) tall and wide.
- Broadly oval leaves to 3 inches long have pointed tips and coarsely toothed edges.
- Spreads by shoots that root where they touch the ground.
- Good ground cover on very dry sites in full sun.
- Flowers open yellow, age to orange.
- Along with Lantana camara, this species is used extensively in breeding.
- A little hardier than Lantana camara, it’s a ground cover to about 2 feet high, with branches trailing to 3 feet or even 6 feet Dark green, inch-long leaves have coarsely toothed edges; sometimes tinged red or purplish, especially in winter.
- Rosy lilac flowers in 1- to 1 inches-wide clusters.
- Lavender Swirl is a larger form that produces white, lavender, and white-and-lavender flower clusters.
- Sunny Daze has leaves attractively edged in creamy yellow and grows more slowly than the species.
- White Lightnin looks similar but has pure white flowers; it too is a slow grower.
lantana selections and hybrids
- In this list, some of the selections are forms of Lantana camara or hybrids between those forms; others are hybrids resulting from crosses between Lantana camara and Lantana montevidensis.
- Lantanas are considered invasive in some areas.
- Gardeners there should plant fruitless or nearly fruitless selections (noted).
- Plants have compact growth to 22 feet high and wide.
- Large flowers open yellow and turn orange, pink, or cherry-red.
Chapel Hill Yellow
- To 1 feet by 23 feet Golden yellow.
- To 6 feet by 5 feet Cerise-pink.
- Can be trained into a small patio tree.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Blossoms in a mix of yellow, pink, and purple.
- To 34 feet by 35 feet Deep red.
- Nearly fruitless.
- To 3 feet by 35 feet Golden yellow.
- To 12 feet by 46 feet Rich golden yellow.
Ham and Eggs
- To 2 feet by 4 feet Pink with creamy yellow center.
- To 3 feet by 4 feet Compact.
- Clusters feature magenta and lemon-yellow flowers.
- Slow growing to 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
- Bright yellow band around each leaf; yellow flowers.
- Bloom early.
- Good for containers.
- To 35 feet by 10 feet Orange and pink.
- Hardier than other lantanas, surviving 3F.
- Nearly fruitless.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Golden yellow.
- Plants range from 1215 inches high and wide to 45 feet tall and wide, depending on selection.
- Flowers in single shade and different combinations of yellow, pink, purple, orange, and red.
- Nearly fruitless.
- To 1 feet by 3 feet Pink and cream.
- To 35 feet high and wide.
- Rich orange-red.
- To 2 feet tall and wide.
- Cream blossoms with golden yellow centers.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Vivid orange-red.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Bright yellow.
- To 2 feet by 68 feet Yellow and orange to red and orange.
- Hardy and fruitless.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Bright golden yellow.
Sunny Side Up
- To 1 feet by 3 feet Open yellow changing to white with yellow center.
- To 23 feet by 68 feet Burnt orange.
- Zone TS; USDA 10-11.
- Somewhat rangy, sparsely branched shrub to 35 feet tall and half as wide.
- Medium green leaves to 5 inches long, whorled around branches in groups of three.
- Dense clusters of pink, lavender, or purple blossoms appear in conjunction with showy spikes of lavender-purple fruit that resembles that of beautyberry (Callicarpa).
Lantanas are treated as annuals in most of the Upper and Middle South, as perennials elsewhere. Where they overwinter, prune back hard in early spring to remove dead wood and encourage vigorous new growth. Unpruned plants may become large, woody shrubs. Feed and water lightly, as too much fertilizer and water will reduce bloom.
Lantana Plant and Flower
Turn up the heat, and lantana plants will turn up the flower power. These tough-as-nails tropicals fill the summer garden with outstanding color that just gets better as heat and humidity build. Lantana is native to tropical regions of Central and South America, and it is a summer stand-out in every region in this country.
Northern gardeners typically grow lantana as a seasonal annual, while gardeners in Zones 9 and 10 may treat it as a perennial. In Zones 7b and 8, lantana plants often behave as tender perennials, dying to the ground if temperatures tumble into the mid-20s. Roots remain alive, and lantana resprouts in spring, ready to fill summer scenes with decadent blooms.
Lantana flowers feature a remarkable trait: Each blossom head frequently showcases multiple hues, creating a kaleidoscope of color. Lantana flowers measure 1 to 2 inches across and are comprised of numerous smaller blooms arranged in a sphere. Blossom shades vary, including lavender, orange, red, rose, pink, gold and white.
Versatile in the landscape, lantana plants tolerate a range of growing conditions. Ideally, they want full sun, well-drained soil and medium moisture. But this beauty is drought tolerant, so once plants are established, they can get by on minimal water, although you’ll see more lantana flowers when plants receive regular moisture.
Lantana withstands salt and sandy soil, making it a common plant in seaside landscapes. Include lantana in a butterfly garden for its nectar-laden blooms, and use it in plantings that feature deer- and rabbit-resistant plants. Lantana leaves are sandpapery and have a strong odor that critters dislike. Leaves have been shown to make pets and livestock ill when consumed.
Some species of lantana are invasive and have escaped home gardens to populate natural landscapes. Lantana camara or common lantana has strong invasive tendencies. If you grow a lantana plant that produces black berries and you live in Zones 8 to 10, it’s a good idea to remove spent flowers from plants to prevent berry formation. You can do this easily by lighting pruning lantana after flowering. Some states that consider lantana invasive are Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Arizona and South Carolina.
Trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) opens lavender flowers with yellow throats. It has trailing stems that spread up to five feet—and more. Many homeowners use this lantana plant as a ground cover or planted atop retaining walls where stems can trail gracefully. Also known as purple lantana, this species is a good choice for erosion control on slopes.
In regions where lantana isn’t winter hardy, treat it as an annual. Many lantana hybrids exist with a variety of flower colors and plant sizes. Some lantana plants are bred to stay short and stocky; others tend to branch more freely. Check pot tags carefully to make sure you’re buying the kind of lantana you want.
Lantana adds strong color to container gardens filled with a commercial soil-less mix developed for container use. In pots, lantana plants need regular watering due to the confined quarters. Use a bloom booster fertilizer to encourage strong flowering.