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Suck It Up! How Water Moves Through Plants

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by Teisha Rowland, PhD
Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
1 to 2 days
Key Concepts
capillary action, transpiration, plant biology, water transport
White carnations in a glass of red food coloring water; will capillary action dye these flowers pink?

Introduction

Have you ever heard someone say, "That plant is thirsty," or, "Give that plant a drink of water"? We know that all plants need water to survive, even bouquets of cut flowers and plants living in deserts. But have you ever thought about how the water moves within the plant? In this activity, you will put carnations in dyed water to figure out where the water goes. Where do you think the dyed water will travel, and what will this tell you about how the water moves in the cut flowers?

Credits

Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,150 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Water
  • Glass cup or vase
  • Several white carnations or other white flowers (at least 3). Tip: Younger flowers work better than older ones.
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring teaspoon
  • Knife
  • Food coloring; blue or red are the easiest to see
  • Optional: Camera
    Materials needed to dye white flowers and illustrate capillary action in plants.

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Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
1 to 2 days
Key Concepts
capillary action, transpiration, plant biology, water transport