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Q & A: Food Coloring and Plants

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Q:
How will food coloring affect the growth of plants when added to their water (one or two drops), especially on cherry belle radish?
- Anonymous
Mountain pointe, Phoenix, AZ, USA
A:
Great Question! I actually did this for my fourth grade Science Fair project. I used beans instead of radishes, but I think the answer should be pretty close.
Unfortunately the answer is that it really doesn't do much. Food coloring is non-toxic, so it doesn't poison the plants. If you use enough of it, you may get a little tinting of the leaves of the plant after a while, but the plant still grows pretty much the same.

-Sara

p.s. Food colorings are often added to water for plants to alter the appearance of the plants. I bought some nice blue flowers once, and found that huge amounts of blue food coloring leached back into the water in my flower vase after about a day or so. It probably doesn't help the plant grow to have the extra food colorings present, but it does not hurt either. We expect the radishes not to behave any differently from other plants in this respect.

-- Tom

(republished on 07/18/06)

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