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Gypsophila Plant Facts
Why is the gypsophila plant called 'Baby's Breath'? Gypsophila has been affectionately referred to as ‘Baby’s Breath’ since the 1800s in reference to its tiny, delicate white flowers and gentle fragrance. Baby’s breath flowers are associated with purity, innocence and everlasting love, including romantic (which explains their popularity as wedding flowers) as well as platonic and family bonds. Gypsophila is best known for its white blooms but there are varieties that produce pink and rose coloured flowers as well.
The botanical name Gypsophila actually means ‘chalk-loving’ and derives from the mineral gypsum, which makes soil dry and sandy - the conditions preferred by this plant in the garden.
Baby's breath in wedding flowers Baby’s breath gives your wedding day decor a lush, fresh and airy look that is both classic and romantic. Most commonly used in bridal bouquets either as fillers or feature flowers (often paired with larger blooms like roses or lilies), baby’s breath can also be used for buttonholes and corsages alongside deep green foliage or spray roses, as aisle decorations tied to the chairs or pews, or weaved into flower crowns for the bridal party and flower girls alike.
How to choose gypsophila baby's breath at the flower market The best baby’s breath bunches will have green, thin and wiry stems loaded with half open florets and half closed buds, with the open florets displaying fluffy white blooms. Avoid any bunches that show signs of browning, drooping, or breakage.
How long does baby’s breath last as cut flowers? Baby’s Breath is a very hardy and long lasting cut flower and although some of the tiny blooms may die off quickly, most will last anywhere from 5 to 14 days.
Extending the vase life of gypsophila baby's breath Proper care and handling of gypsophila flowers will lengthen their lifespan. To get the most time out of your baby’s breath flowers in the vase or bouquet, remove all foliage that will be below the water line and then rinse the lower portion of the stems under running water. Cut under water with a sharp blade and then spread out the stems and shake a little to loosen and allow air-flow through the bunch. Hydrate in a sterilized container with a solution of warm water and commercial floral preservative/floral food for two hours before you work with the flowers. Do not “mist” gypsophila flowers as this can cause blossom browning. Baby’s breath blooms are also extremely sensitive to ethylene (found in fruits, vegetables, decaying flowers and foliage, as well as car exhaust and cigarette smoke), and will soon start to wilt after being exposed to this gas. Use floral food and clean vases to minimize the effects and avoid exposure if possible.
Why you don’t need to buy fake baby’s breath anymore With regular imports from the Netherlands, Kenya and Ecuador, most varieties of Gypsophila, and in particular the fluffy white Gypsophila Paniculata, are now available year-round in most parts of Australia. Why fork out for the artificial stuff when beautiful fresh blooms are on offer!
How to dry your own baby’s breath flowers Baby's Breath makes a very nice dried flower that can be used in dried floral arrangements or to decorate anything from wreaths to craft projects. To dry baby’s breath, cut them early in the morning when the blooms are just opening and ideally when half the blooms are open and half are still in bud. Don’t use stems with browning flowers. Re-cut stems under warm running water, bundle 5-7 stems together with twine and then hang upside down in a dark, dry, warm and well-ventilated spot for 5 days up to 2 weeks (until completely dry). Dried flowers are ready for use when they are papery to the touch.
Growing Baby's Breath How to grow gypsophila baby's breath Baby’s breath is a low maintenance plant and the cheapest and easiest way to grow them is from seed, although some popular varieties including 'Million Stars' and others used in the cut flower trade need to be grown from cuttings. If growing from seed sow directly into your flower garden after the soil has begun to warm up in Spring (baby’s breath don’t like frost). Space your plants around 20cm apart in light or sandy, lime-rich and well-drained soil in a sunny spot in the garden, although they will tolerate some afternoon shade. Gypsophila are not fond of clay, so if your soil is heavy try planting them out in raised garden beds. If your baby’s breath plant isn’t performing well do a soil test to check your garden soil’s alkalinity (the ideal pH is around 7.0).
Once your baby’s breath plant germinates (in 10-15 days) they will grow rapidly so make sure you keep water up during dry periods. The stems are very slender, resulting in an ethereal effect in the garden on plants that can grow up to 1.5 metres tall. Stake tall plants and cut stems back in the middle of Summer if they’re starting to look out of control; this will also encourage new growth and blooms right into Autumn.
Despite their fragile appearance baby’s breath plants are actually quite hardy and once established will continue to beautify your garden beds alongside herbs like sage and other flowering plants like lavender, which have similar soil and watering demands to baby’s breath.
How many flowers can I expect on my baby’s breath plants? Baby’s breath flowers are dainty and delicate, but what they lack in individual size, they make up for in volume! Gypsophila plants branch heavily in early to mid-Summer, giving you hundreds of flowers per plant. Baby’s breath will come into bloom about 8 weeks after germination and will bloom for a long period during the mid-Summer season, reaching 30-45cm at maturity. For a continuous bloom sow new seeds every 2-3 weeks.