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Simple Science: How Plants Absorb Water and Nutrients

We had excess food dye left over from our Advanced Potion Making Class so we decided to try the coloured-water absorption experiment with cabbage leaves. You can use other plants, like celery or flowers, but the effect is clearest when you use a light coloured plant, like chinese cabbage or white daisies. We didn’t have easy access to white flowers so we used chinese cabbage.

What you will need:

  • chinese cabbage
  • three containers
  • water
  • food dye – we used blue, red and yellow

Add a little food dye to each container and dilute with water. Place one cabbage leaf in each container. Wait and watch.

Plant science - cabbage colour change

Our food dye colours from left to right: red, yellow, blue. I know the yellow looks orange but it really is yellow food dye. Watch the colour spread as the liquid is absorbed up through the cabbage leaf. To get a better effect, leave your experiment overnight and check in again the next morning.

Plant science - cabbage colour change

This simple experiment is a terrific illustration of how plants take in water and nutrients up through their stems. You can also try this with flowers – the effect is quite lovely.

You can also watch this experiment, complete with explanations, in the following video:


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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