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Growing Baby's Breath

I have a cutting garden that I use to make summer bouquets for my house and for friends. Sometimes it seems like they could use some filler—like the baby's breath the florist uses. Can I grow baby's breath?

Baby's breath plant

Several species within the genus Gypsophila go by the common name baby's breath. They all prefer full sun and calcium-rich, alkaline soils. Its botanical name, Gypsophila, means "lover of chalk."

Perennial baby's breath (G. paniculata) grows to three feet tall and wide. It is hardy to USDA Zones 4–9. It has naturalized across much of the northern United States and it is listed as a noxious weed in California and Washington. We do not recommend growing it.

Low baby's breath (G. muralis) is an annual species that can tolerate some drought and light frosts. It too has naturalized in much of the eastern United States, but it is not considered invasive. It grows 8 to 10 inches high and 20 inches wide. 'Gypsy' is a popular variety of low baby's breath, with light to dark pink double flowers covering its rounded form. Another annual species is G. elegans; its cultivar 'Covent Garden' has white flowers and can grow to two feet tall.

You would be best to plant the annual species or cultivars of baby's breath, given that they are not considered invasive. Of course, since you'll be using the flowers in bouquets, you'll stop them from self-seeding, anyway. To grow the annual types, sow their seed directly into the garden every 2 to 4 weeks, starting a couple weeks after the last frost. The plants grow quickly and bloom for 4 to 6 weeks. Successive planting will keep you cutting baby's breath through the summer and into fall.

Image: Michael Wolf. Rights.
Start a cutting garden with Horticulture's CD on annuals, which includes articles on interesting varieties plus how-to information.

Easily weed between rows of flowers with the CobraHead weeder.

Snip flowers effortlessly with Clarington Forge's mini pruning set.