How To Make Flowers Glow Under Black Light

This is so cool! If you have freshly-cut white flowers and a vase of tonic water, you can make flowers that glow when they're under black light. We'll tell you how.

I never thought I'd say this, but I finally have a tip for wedding planners. Make glow-in-the-dark floral arrangements. Sure, it means bringing black lights into a church — but hey, it's worth it if we get this effect.


First you need white flowers, and white flowers that are still relatively fresh. Next you need tonic water. Trim the ends of the flower and put it in a vase of tonic water. The flower will suck up the tonic water, transferring the water and its contents into its petals. When the tonic-filled petals get hit with black light, they should glow.

This happens because tonic water contains quinine. Quinine is the extract from the bark of a South American tree. It's bitter, but it came to be mixed in cocktails, or even chewed (in bark form) straight, because quinine is a decent way to treat malaria. Quinine also fluoresces, under the right circumstances. A substance is fluorescent when it absorbs light, and the re-emits the light, giving off a little glow.

In the case of quinine, it doesn't emit the same color of light it absorbs. When placed under a black light, the quinine absorbs a high-energy UV photon, but re-emits a lower energy, blue photon. Technically, then, it doesn't glow in the dark. It glows in the light. That light it absorbs just happens to be at a frequency we can't pick up.


But never mind the details. It's time to make some glowing flowers! Even if you're not intending to carry a bouquet of glowing white flowers in the best rave-wedding the world has ever seen, you can at least pick up a bunch of carnations and some tonic water, and then hunt down a black light.

Top Image: Sander van der Wel

[Source: How To Make a Glowing Flower, Explore Glow-in-the-Dark Water.]


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