St David’s Day daffodil science

Turn your daffodils red for St David’s Day!


Image courtesy Jack W Pearce (flickr CC)

Happy St David’s Day! You can’t beat the cheery yellow face of the daffodils popping up all over the place – or can you? We often associate red with Wales, so could we make the Daffodil even more Welsh using a bit of colourful science?

This activity supports the National Curriculum for England: KS1 and 2: Plants, and the Welsh Foundation Phase; ‘Myself and other living things’.


What you need:

A bunch of daffodils – fully open

A glass or plastic beaker


Red food colouring

24 hours!

What to do:

  1. Fill the beaker with water to a height that will allow the daffodils to stand up without you holding them
  2. Add 10-20 drops of food colouring to the water
  3. Insert a few daffodils into the beaker and wait overnight (or at least a full day!)

What’s happening?

Water has a tendency to want to stick to itself – it’s what we call ‘surface tension’. In a very narrow space, water also gets attracted to the walls of a material. These two forces work together to allow water to defeat gravity and crawl up any material that has small spaces within it. This is called ‘capillary action’. You can see this in action if you dip the corner of some kitchen towel in water too!

Plant stems are made up of many tiny tubes and as the plant loses water through the leaves, this also helps create suction in the tube and the water at the bottom of the stem gets pulled up to the top.

If we turn the water a different colour, the colour is also pulled all the way up into the plant and can end up in the petals of the flower.

Try this:

If you want to get really creative, you can carefully cut the stem in half (lengthways) down the middle, then put one side of the stem in a red colour, and the other side in a different colour (green would be nice and Welsh!). You might end up with a 3-colour daffodil!

Some things to look at:

This is a beautiful time lapse film showing a daffodil opening:

Curriculum Links

Wales foundation phase (3-7yrs)

Myself and other living things – learn the names and uses of the main external parts of the human body and plants

England KS1

Year1 Plants – identify and describe the basic structure of a variety of common flowering plants, including trees.

Year 2 Plants – find out and describe how plants need water, light and a suitable temperature to grow and stay healthy.

England KS2

Year3 Plants – investigate the way in which water is transported within plants


Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Activity, Biology, Primary
Related pages