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How to Tie-Dye Roses (aka How to Become the Ultimate Hippie)

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By Julia Drake on August 16, 2012

This project is one part hippie, one part trashy.

There is nothing I love more than putting on some Grateful Dead and tie-dying the hell out of some T-shirts. I’ve even tie-dyed cupcakes. But tie-dying roses takes it to a level that, while still colorful and trippy, also walks a fine line of looking like something Mama June should add to Honey Boo Boo’s next pageant ensemble. Why would anyone want to take a beautiful rose and dye it with food coloring?

Well, because the process is freaking awesome, that’s why.

Who am I kidding? I haven’t shied away from sharing projects that take the classy level down a notch or two. I’ve cut glass like Walter White with acetone soaked yarn and tapped a watermelon like a keg to fill with my own version of Go Go Juice. We’re not exactly knitting caftans and throwing clay here, folks. Of all the projects I’ve shared, this is, by far, one of the simplest but also one of the most magical. Watching the roses drink up the dyed water and slowly turn from white to orange and blue is out of this world, man.

If you want to trick your kid into thinking you’re a total magician, then I suggest giving this tie-dyed roses project a try.

Gear to Get Weird

• White roses
• Food coloring
• Scissors
• Sharp paring knife or razor blade
• Popsicle mold (mine came from Walmart, naturally)

*Note: there are champagne glasses pictured that I thought would work well for holding the dyed water and roses. I didn’t end up using them but I still think they’d work if you have some on hand.

Step One

Trim the stems of your roses so they’re the right height to stand in your tie-dye vessel (aka popsicle mold). Then, using your sharp paring knife or razor blade, carefully split the stem of the rose in two equal halves all the way up to about 1 inch from the base of the petals. You want to use a very sharp blade for this part because the stem of a rose is pretty tough and woody. If the blade you’re using is dull it will be a pain.

Step Two

Fill the popsicle mold with water, and dye each separate compartment (what do you call those things?) the color you desire. My mold had eight popsicle receptacles, so I was able to place four roses in the mold with one half of the stem soaking up one color and the other half soaking up another.

Check out the stems below! At this point they had been in the dyed water for about 30 minutes and you can see the dye moving up through the stems. Mother Nature and science blowing my miiiiiiind!

Step Three 

Watch and wait!

The longer you leave the stems in the water, the more colorful the petals become. Other posts I read about this process mentioned splitting the stem in three and even four parts but my hands were not nimble enough to do that accurately. If you can split up your stem into more sections then your awesome tie-dyed roses can have even more colors going on in their hippie dippy petals! I was quite pleased how my two-tone roses turned out.

Here they are after three hours. The roses are clearly drinking up the water really fast. You can start to notice the color coming through after just an hour. Pretty incredible. Where the heck is Mr. Wizard to explain to me why flowers keep drinking up water after they have been cut?! You can find a helpful little explanation of that process from eHow.

After eight hours

After 24 hours

So colorful! I found that the darker dyes (red and blue) came out kind of speckled on the petals. But the lighter dyes (orange and yellow) resulted in less contrast from the white petals and the color blended in a bit better.

“Mmm, these roses smell like Walmart and hippies.”

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