Baby’s breath flowers are little, yellow, light pink, or delicate white blooms popularly used in cut flowers and floral arrangements. The flowers grow as airy mounds of small blossoms that promote aesthetics in a garden’s landscape with their lovely blossoms and delicate appearance. Baby’s breath is easy to grow and emerge year after year, filling your garden with decorative clouds of cherry blooms. They are known to be hardy plants that thrive with little maintenance. Here is the ultimate guide to growing and caring for Baby’s Breath flower.
Baby’s Breath Plant (Gypsophila spp)
Scientifically known as the Gypsophila spp, Baby’s breath is a fast-growing flowering plant that produces loose clusters of tiny flowers. Baby’s breath plants originate from Asia, Europe, Australia, and some parts of Africa. Gypsophila means ‘loving gypsum.’ This refers to gypsum-rich soil that some of the Baby’s breath plant species grow best in. On the other hand, the common name ‘Baby’s breath’ refers to the exercise of gifting flowers during baby showers. Other people claim that the name Baby’s breath symbolizes the flower’s innocent and charming look, similar to a little baby. According to Home Guides SFGATE, about 150 species in the Gypsophila genus exist and grow as annuals or perennials. The annuals die off during the winter but self-seed, and these flowers might return the following year. The flowers might die back in the fall for perennials, but their roots are cold-resistant to withstand frost and bloom year after year. Based on the species, Baby’s breath flowers can grow up to 4 feet wide and up to 8 feet tall.
Baby’s Breath Flowers
Baby’s breath flowers from early summer to the fall. The flowers are normally pink or white and tend to create clouds of pretty flowers. Individual flowers can be single or double five-petaled, creating many clusters known as panicles. After you plant the Baby’s breath seeds, the plant starts to flower in the third year. The main uses of Baby’s breath flowers are fillers in flower arrangements and displays. Baby’s breath airy clusters of tiny white or pink flowers effectively enhance the look of larger blooms. They contrast with tulips, roses, gerbera, and other bright-colored flowers. Baby’s breath flowers are used in floral wedding and bridal bouquets arrangements.
Baby’s breath plant thrives best in full sunlight, which means a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight on most days. Although they can tolerate some shade, particularly from the hot afternoon sun, too much shade will cause poor flowering and leggy plants.
Baby’s breath grows best in good draining soil. Sandy soil works well, while wet clay soil is not ideal for these plants. Therefore, if your soil is not sandy or has no proper drainage, you should consider planting your Baby’s breath plants in containers or raised garden beds. According to GardenBeast, plants do best in slightly alkaline soil. Therefore, if your soil is acidic, you should consider adding garden lime.
Baby’s breath has low water requirements and thrives best in relatively dry soil. Maintain the soil moderately moist for young plants to establish. However, once the plants are well established, you won’t need to water them unless they are experiencing a prolonged drought. Overwatering the plant might result in root rot and even kill the plant.
Temperature And Humidity
Baby’s breath can tolerate various temperatures within their growing zones. Depending on the different species, some tolerate cold climates more than others. But generally, Baby’s breath plants love dry areas with low humidity. According to Main Street Seed and Supply, Baby’s breath plants like warm temperatures, mostly during spring.
Baby’s breath plants are not heavy feeders. Excess fertilizer can hence result in floppy growth. Add some compost to the planting site each spring to promote profuse blooms and healthy growth. However, you can boost plant growth by adding an all-purpose fertilizer during the blooming and growing season.
Propagating Baby’s Breath from Cuttings
The first step is identifying a well-established, healthy plant from which you can derive the cuttings. Use a knife sharp to get 3 to 5 inches long cuttings. You should get each cutting just below a leaf and remove the leaves from the bottom third part of the cuttings. Bury the bottom inch of the stem, cutting in well-drained potting soil. You can dip the stem cuttings in growth hormone for enhanced results before planting. Cover the planted cuttings with clear plastic bags to promote high humidity and maintain them warm. It would be best if you placed these cuttings away from the direct sunlight. After, Water the cuttings regularly to ensure the soil remains moist until the roots grow and become well established. After a month, you can either transplant or report the established cuttings in your garden bed.
Propagating Baby’s Breath Through Seeds
It is relatively easy to grow a new Baby’s breath plants through seed propagation. Here, you can sow the seeds directly in the garden or begin by planting the seeds indoors. To propagate Baby’s breath seeds outdoors, sow them in a sunny region of your garden. Sprinkle a light seed layer and cover them gently with soil. Sprinkle some water lightly to maintain the soil moist. When the seedlings begin to grow, perform thinning to ensure they grow about 30 cm apart. The best time to do indoor seed propagation is 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to transfer the seedlings into the outdoor garden. Start by sowing the seeds in a light, ideal potting mix. Cover them with seed starting formula. Seedlings will appear in around two weeks. You can now place the pots with the emerging seedlings in a sunny place or use plant lights to give the plants at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. When the seedlings get at least two pairs of leaves, they are ready for transplanting. Before you plant the seedlings outdoors, place them in a sheltered outdoor location for a week to allow for hardening and adjusting to the outdoor environment. You can then transfer these seedlings to alkaline and well-drained soil.
The Best Time to Plant Baby’s Breath
Whether seeds or cuttings, the best time to plant a Baby’s breath is around the late spring after frost. The plant will rapidly grow from seed in the ground without beginning indoors. However, you can also begin germinating the seeds indoors and transplant them into the garden after the frost.
Pruning Baby’s Breath
These plants have minimal pruning needs. You just require to prune the long, leggy stems to maintain the bushy flowering mound in its best shape. To enhance blooming entirely through the summer, you can consider deadheading the terminal flowers when they begin dying. Also, it’s best to trim back the stems to the point that the secondary sprays begin growing to ensure the flowers bloom until the fall. Baby’s breath plants can benefit from light pruning after the first flowering, which helps maintain their good shape and promotes another bloom. According to Gardeners Path, after the second bloom in the fall, you should cut the stems of the perennial Baby’s breath perennial up to around one inch above the ground to overwinter. These plants will come back during the spring.
Varieties of Baby’s Breath
Some of the common varieties of the plant include:
- Gypsophila elegans: although considered an annual plant, this species self-seeds and returns to the garden yearly. It has large, open blooms with beautiful white flowers compared to the other species. This species is normally used in flower and bouquet arrangements.
- Gypsophila paniculata- the common Gypsophila is another famous flower for floral display for its elegant, airy panicles. It’s a perennial Baby’s breath plant with a mass of tiny flowers.
- Gypsophila paniculata’ Bristol Fairy’ – this plant produces double blooms that are white and around ¼ inches wide. It grows in mounds that get to about 2 feet tall and wide.
- Gypsophila paniculata ‘Viette’s Dwarf’- this cultivar is a mound-forming, compact plant that grows to about 12 to 15 inches tall. Its elegant feature is the double pink flowers that bloom in airy clusters.
- Gypsophila paniculata ‘Perfekta’- this Gypsophila species can grow up to three feet tall and wide. It produces flowers similar to the Bristol Fairy species, but they are about two times the size.
- Gypsophila paniculata ‘Compacta Plena’- the Compacta Plena is a compact species that grows only about 16 to 18 inches tall in molds. The cultivar blooms are also relatively similar to the Bristol Fairy.
- Gypsophila paniculata ‘Festival Star’- this is a robust Baby’s breath plant that thrives best in USDA zone 3. It has clusters of remarkable white blooms that grow on a foot-tall stem.
- Gypsophila repens- this is a creeping Baby’s breath species that forms a mat of flowers and foliage. It is perfect for ground cover or rock gardens.
How To Promote Baby’s Breath Blooming
Baby’s breath plants are famous for their delicate little flowers that bloom from late spring to summer. To enhance the flowering of this plant for better and longer blooms, carefully follow the pruning steps to help trigger a second bloom. The next step should be winterizing the plant before the first frost. This way, the Baby’s breath will return every spring and rebloom annually.
How To Dry Baby’s Breath Flowers
Baby’s breath flowers are excellent for use in dried flower arrangements. According to Solawoodflowers.com, these flowers can last fresh for around 5 to 14 days when on cut stems. However, you can make the flowers last longer by drying them indoors. Start by selecting stems between 12 to 18 inches long, with about half of the buds in bloom. Tie such stems in a ground of five to seven with twine and hand them outside in a dark but warm room with proper ventilation. After five days, these Baby’s breath flowers will be dry and papery to touch.
Baby’s Breath Pest and Diseases
Baby’s breath is a robust, hardy plant that is not easily affected by pests or diseases. When the plants are grown in dry soil and get sufficient sunshine, they rarely have any growing issues. However, you need to be aware of some potential Baby’s breath plant problems.
Aphids, Japanese beetles, snails, slugs, and leafhoppers are common pests that can damage a Baby’s breath foliage. These pests feed on the plant, resulting in a discolored or distorted leaf. Leafhoppers often affect young Baby’s breath plants. Therefore, you should try to protect the plants in spring with row covers, the first month after transplanting in the garden. Also, spray the plants with pesticides to kill and repel the pests.
Poor air circulation, dampness on the leaves, and excess soil moisture can result in fungal infections. If you see any dusty gray mold on the foliage, you should consider thinning the plant for enhanced air circulation. Also, avoid splashing water on the lower leaves when watering the Baby’s breath plants.
Root Rot and Crown
Root rot and crown cause the stems to become mushy and produce a bad odor. This often results from excess moisture in the soil. Therefore, you should maintain the soil as dry as possible by occasionally watering to prevent root rot. It’s also important to leave a free radius of about two inches from mulch around the plant’s stem to prevent moisture from killing the roots.
Is Baby’s Breath Toxic?
Now that you know how to grow and care for a Baby’s breath, you are probably wondering whether the plant and flowers are toxic. According to Little Flower Hut, Baby’s breath plants have irritants that are mildly toxic to humans and animals. As indicated by the University of California, Gypsophila paniculata is on the list of toxic plants that causes itching, dermatitis, and skin irritation. Therefore, when pruning the Baby’s breath plant, wear protective gloves to protect your skin from the irritating plant’s sap.
Hopefully, you now understand how to grow and care for Baby’s breath plants and flowers. A popular and versatile cut and dried flower, Baby’s breath is easy to grow at home and an excellent addition to the garden. It thrives best in full sun, low humidity, and well-drained alkaline soil. Being an easy-to-care flowering garden plant, you don’t need to do much to keep it growing and blossoming after it’s well established.