How to Change the Color of White Carnations


Naturally carnations come in shades of white or pink. These frilled, large blooms are so treasured in cut flower arrangements and corsages that ways have been discovered to change them to any color desired. While carnations in the garden can't be dyed, white cut carnations are easily changed to the desired hue using common liquid food coloring. Purchase paste food coloring at a bakery supply store for a larger color selection than what is available in the liquid variety.

Step 1

Cut carnations from your garden, leaving the stem 2 to 3 inches longer than desired for the final arrangement. Choose flowers that have just opened and have no bruised or damaged petals. Place into a glass of water immediately after cutting and bring inside.

Step 2

Fill a second glass or jar with lukewarm water. Mix in food coloring one drop at a time until it reaches the desired hue. Keep in mind the color will be slightly more subtle on the carnation. Mix well with a spoon.

Step 3

Place the stem underwater and trim off the bottom inch, cutting at a 45-degree angle. Cutting underwater prevents air bubbles from entering the stem and weakening it.

Step 4

Wait 20 minutes for the first color changes to be apparent. The color will show around the edges and center of the flower first. Wait 24 hours for the color change to be complete.

Step 5

Place colored carnations into flower arrangements, centerpieces or corsages. Trim the stem a second time for vase displays if the flower begins to wilt.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remember to add water to vases daily. Decreased water levels will lead to quicker blossom death. Remove any leaves that will be underwater, otherwise the flower will become diseased and wilt faster.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Glasses
  • Food coloring
  • Spoon


  • Purdue Extension Office
Keywords: dying carnations, corsage flowers, changing carnation colors

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.