How to add gypsophila (baby's breath) to your garden

If you've ever received a bouquet from a florist, you will probably recognize Gypsophila paniculata, also called baby's breath. This indispensable floral filler produces clouds of tiny blossoms, lending airiness to both the garden and the vase. Baby's breath is a classic partner for roses, and pink-flowered types complement plants with burgundy leaves especially well. The flowers are held on fragile, wiry, multi-branched stems clothed at the base with narrow grey-green to blue-green leaves. Adding baby's breath to your garden is easy when you follow the simple steps outlined below.

How to add gypsophila (baby's breath) to your garden

Preparing the soil

Excellent drainage is required for all baby's breath, especially perennials grown in cold areas.

  1. Work sand and compost into the soil before setting out plants or dormant roots in early spring, and add garden lime according to package directions to adjust soil to a neutral or slightly alkaline pH.
  2. Rake the prepared soil into a small mound when setting the plant into the hole to create superior drainage and protect against deadly crown rot.

Planting your garden

  • Site baby's breath where you want it to grow permanently, as it develops deep-growing, thick roots that are difficult to dig up. If you must move a plant, do so in early spring, being careful not to break the roots.
  • The easiest way to grow the annual types is to sow seeds directly onto a sunny patch of garden soil after all danger of frost is past.
  • Barely cover the seeds with soil and keep it moist until plants are growing vigorously.
  • Start seeds every other week from spring through early summer to enjoy the flowers all summer long.
  • Stake baby's breath early in the season, using stakes and twine.
  • In midsummer, shear plants lightly to remove spent flowers and encourage a second flush of bloom.
  • Although insects or four-footed pests rarely visit baby's breath, in humid climates plants may die back in late summer from fungal leaf diseases.
  • Trim off affected foliage to encourage healthy new growth; the plants will return in excellent health the following spring.

A baby's breath for every need

  • 'Bristol Fairy' is a widely available double white-flowered form that grows one metre (three feet) high.
  • 'Pink Fairy' grows to 1.2 metres (four feet) or more,.
  • 'Perfecta' is an exceptionally vigorous double-flowered white baby's breath with larger flowers than other selections.
  • 'Viette's Dwarf' is only 38 centimetres (15 inches) tall, with flowers that open pink and then turn white.
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