House plants are a refreshing reminder of the rich biosphere teaming with life just outside of our hermetically sealed human dens. They calm us and clean our air. But what would you do if you came across a glowing green flower on your dinner table? I would be startled, but not shaken.
However, if you covered that same flower in a radiation-proof lead box with only a tiny window and a warning label, I may just call the police. Today, we make a confounding glowing flower in a box to confuse your friends and family.
- Ultraviolet light, aka black light
Step 1 Acquire Flower
Find a flower. Any one will do, though white ones work best. You can go out and pick wild flowers if your season is not currently one of perpetually barren soul wrenching permafrost. If it is that season, you can always pick up some flowers at the local florist or a grocery store. Try to get at least two so you can see the difference, once we make one glow.
Step 2 Dope the Flower
Cut the stem of the flower and place it in a small glass. Pour a few inches of water into the glass. Now, grab your highlighter.
- You will get highlighter dye all over your hands.
Remove the ink cartridge from your highlighter and squeeze the ink into the water.
Step 3 Wait
It will take a night for the flower to soak up the ink. The cut stem of the flower has vascular tissue called xylem which transports water up from the roots. In the absence of roots, the stem soaks up whatever it is placed in.
Image by Mr. Thompson
Step 4 Test!
After leaving your flower for a night, plug in your black light and shine it over the petals. You should notice that the florescent glow on the petals in concentrated at the edges and tips where there is more water.
The fluorescence shows up in streaks and blotches.
My flower did not consume a great amount of ink because it had been left without a vase too long. For best results, use a freshly cut flower.
Here is a photo of a fully fluorescent flower.
Image by How-To-Geek
Step 5 Install Mutant Plant
Place your flower in a menacing box. Warning labels and lights can help add to the illusion of radioactivity. Place the box in an innocuous setting like the breakfast table or countertop. If you want to get serious about it, caution tape across your front door always makes your victim think twice.
I just put mine under a CD spindle case. It gives the flower that beauty and the beast feel.
For more dramatic lighting, set your box up in a dark room or at night.
It is possible to make virtually anything fluoresce under UV light if you just color the surface with a highlighter. I think fruit and vegetables would look particularly unsettling and dangerous if you made them fluorescent.
Also, it turns out fingerprints show up great!
This project is simple and super cheap. Try this at home with your favorite plants and share the results on the community corkboard. If you have any questions or musings, feel free to post in the forum.