Dyeing Flowers with Food Coloring Tutorial

February 7, 2013Allison Murray


My Mimmie has the most amazing garden. As she’s gotten older it is less frilly and has more plants that self sustain, but it has always been a thing to see. When I was little she would let me grab a couple of white flowers out of the beds and bring them in to dye them. On extremely special occasions she would even buy me a single white carnation to “pretty up”.

When I was a new adult I would commonly purchase bouquets of bright and colorful flowers to liven up my living space. Now that I’m older and have a mortgage, car payment and all of that jazz a bouquet of flowers is not on my regular shopping list.

Learn how to dye white flowers with Dream a Little Bigger.

When I walked into the grocery store I saw some of the prettiest daisies that were bright pink and neon green. These weren’t natural, sedate pink and green. These were very obviously altered. And I loved them. The cellophane outer wrap showed that they were $12.99. What? Aren’t these still daisies we’re talking about? A quick trip around the floral department found me a package of white mums for $3.99. SOLD.

Want to make your own white flowers into something colorful? You will need:

  • White Flowers
  • Glasses or jars
  • Water
  • Food Coloring (I used neon colors)

First place a decent amount of water in the bottom of your jars or glasses. Make sure that they are nice and heavy so that the weight of the flowers doesn’t tip them over. The last thing you want is watered down food coloring running into your sock drawer or something.Drop in some food coloring until you get a nice, rich color. I used half a little dropper of the coloring in each jar for mine.
Also remember that you can mix colors as necessary, yellow and blue make green and all of that business.

Learn how to dye white flowers with Dream a Little Bigger.

Take your flowers and break up the bunch into as many sections as is natural. Take and cut an angle on the bottom of the stems. You can shorten as necessary for your jars/glasses. Try to remove the leaves that are near the bottom to keep them from sitting in your water and getting funky.

Learn how to dye white flowers with Dream a Little Bigger.

Place your flowers into the jars and allow to sit until you achieve the color you desire. When the color is achieved, rinse the stems well and transfer to your vase. FYI – the water will turn color the longer the flowers sit in the fresh. If your vase is clear, you may need to change the water out regularly.

Learn how to dye white flowers with Dream a Little Bigger.

The longer you keep your flowers in the dye the darker they will become. I removed mine after about 36 hours to achieve the color you see at the top of the page. Cut flowers will naturally get droopy, so remove saggy petals as they form to keep them looking pretty and fresh.

So what do you think? Will you look at cheapie white carnations and mums differently? Next time grab a few for your kids – I can tell you from experience what a wonderful thing it is to keep an eye on!

Comments (21)

  • Alice,Pretty Confused

    February 7, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    These are absolutely beautiful! I cannot wait to try this, maybe I can do it as a Valentines present to myself xo

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    February 8, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    I never realized how fast flowers can soak up the dye and change colors! I just might have to try this sometime. Seems like a fun experiment!

  • Allison Murray

    February 8, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    They were my Valentine to myself, Alice :)

  • Allison Murray

    February 8, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    It really is fun, Lauren… And come spring you'll can experiment like crazy when everything is blooming!

  • Natasha

    February 8, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Oh, I did this with my mom when I was really young. Now I want to try it again, your flowers look so cool.

  • Allison Murray

    February 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Thanks, Natasha :)

  • Sara

    May 5, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    How long does the color last after you put them in plain fresh water?

  • Allison Murray

    May 5, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    In my experience the color outlasts the flowers. Some of the coloring lingering in the stems will dirty your clear water, though. Keep that in mind if displaying in a clear vase.

  • Mylinda

    March 15, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Hi! Can I ask a question about this? I know it’s an old post but I was trying to do this with my daughter and it doesn’t seem to be working out :( The flowers have been sitting in the water overnight (around 15 hours now) and the only one that is showing any color at all is the blue. The pink has a few tiny spots here and there but the purple and the green are still completely white. Like you, I used the neon colors on mums from the grocery, we used glass jars. The only thing different that I did was that I mixed the flower food with the water. I don’t recall your mentioning anything about it. What do you think we might have done wrong?

    1. Allison

      March 15, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      I’ve never added the life extender to the flowers so that might be your problem. Did you saturate the water really well with the color? You might try trimming the stems one more time and see if that helps them suck more of the color up to the petals. Let me know how it goes!

      1. Mylinda

        March 16, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Thanks for replying! It did occur to me that maybe we didn’t use enough food coloring so I added more. Still didn’t work. I made a fresh batch today, with very little water and more dye, using baby’s breath to test, and they were bright pink in 2 hours! Guess I’ll be following that formula, nixing the flower food. Hopefully the mums will work out for her school project (fingers crossed)…

  • Nora Phillipi

    June 15, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    The color of the flowers are just beautiful! What kind of color blue did you use ? I want to try a flower arrangement with the same color blue .

    1. Allison Murray

      June 15, 2015 at 8:01 PM

      I used the McCormick neon set!

  • amy newell

    June 19, 2015 at 7:03 AM

    can i do this with babies breath?

    1. Allison Murray

      June 19, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      I don’t see why not. Let me know how it works for you? Maybe send a pic? :)

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  • Rose

    March 20, 2017 at 9:32 AM

    Does Gel food coloring work to because that iswhat I tried it still has not worked

    1. Allison Murray

      March 20, 2017 at 10:41 AM

      Honestly I think you’ll do much better with the liquid food coloring. I have such a hard time getting the gel to really dissolve in water so I bet that is a part of the problem.

      1. Rose

        March 21, 2017 at 8:30 AM

        OH thank you I went to the store and got some liquid coloring and it worked!
        Thanks for the helpful hint.!

  • Joey

    November 3, 2017 at 11:30 AM

    Can i use succulents?

    1. Allison Murray

      November 5, 2017 at 8:46 AM

      Hmmm. In all honesty I don’t know but my gut is that it wouldn’t necessarily work as well. Any leaves you leave on white flowers do change color but it’s muddled with the green and it isn’t necessarily pretty. Let me know how it goes if you give it a whirl. I’d love to know how it goes!

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