Baby’s Breath Care Tips: How To Plant, Grow, and Care for Baby’s Breath

When selecting a filler flower for your floral arrangements, baby’s breath flowers are your best choice. Since the early 1800s, these flowers have been a staple because of their fragrant and subtle beauty that perfectly complements other showier flowers, such as roses and tulips.

In this article, you shall learn everything about baby’s breath plants, including what they are, how to care for them, and why they have become so popular. So, what are baby’s breath flowers?

What Are Baby’s Breath Flowers?

What Are Baby's Breath Flowers

Baby’s breath, also known as Gypsophila, is a genus of annual and perennial flowering plants with over 150 species. They are native to Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, with other species available in America following their introduction in the 1800s. 

These plants include creepers that make for attractive ground covers and upright growers that provide beautiful floral mounds for your garden. Baby’s breath plants thrive in USDA hardiness zone 3 to 9, where the soil is well-drained and alkaline. Also, baby’s breath plants require plenty of sunshine and can grow into shrubs, 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Baby’s breath plants produce small narrow leaves that are blue-green or gray-green, with white or pink tiny, five-petaled flowers during summer. These flowers are a favorite for most pollinators, making baby’s breath flowers a great addition to your garden for other plants to thrive.

Despite their beauty, baby’s breath plants have toxic qualities and require caution when handling them. Some effects include nose and skin irritation in humans, with pets suffering gastrointestinal issues when ingested.

Planting Baby’s Breath

Below are the species of baby’s breath plants you will find in most gardens:

1. Viette’s Dwarf (Gypsophila Paniculata)

This variety of baby’s breath is a compact cultivar that grows to about 15 inches in height and width. It does not require stalking to stay upright and blooms pink flowers that fade to white as they mature.

2. Bristol Fairy (Gypsophila Paniculata)

The Bristol fairy is a creeper that grows into compact mounds of around 3 feet in height and width. It has double white blooms that are approximately ¼ inch wide.

3. Compacta Plena (Gypsophila Paniculata)

Similar to the Bristol fairy, this species of baby’s breath features double white blooms ¼ inch wide. It grows into mounds approximately 18 inches tall and wide when mature.

4. Perfekta (Gypsophila Paniculata)

The perfekta can grow to shrubs of about 3 feet in height and width when mature. They also have double-white blooms that are approximately ½ an inch wide.

5. Gypsophila Elegans

This variety of baby’s breath is an annual plant that self-seeds, meaning you can expect it to grow yearly without much care. It features larger blooms that the other varieties above, providing much showier flowers during summer.

Best Time To Plant Baby’s Breath Flowers

Best Time To Plant Baby's Breath Flowers

The best time to plant baby’s breath plants is in late spring or early summer. This is because these plants require plenty of sunshine and water to thrive. Whether it is the annual or perennial variety, ensure you plant your baby’s breath after the last frost date in your area.

Baby’s breath plants grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, meaning they can thrive almost anywhere, provided the conditions are right.

If you are in the United States, ensure you consult with your local authority before planting baby’s breath flowers. Many states consider it an invasive and toxic weed that can endanger other native plants.

Where To Plant Baby’s Breath (Indoors vs. Outdoors)

Baby’s breath plants do best when you plant them outdoors. This is because the plant requires enough space to spread and plenty of sunshine to thrive.

You can still plant baby’s breath flowers indoors if you grow them from seeds and cuttings. They take between ten and fourteen days to germinate. Then, you can transplant them into your garden.

How To Care For Baby’s Breath In Pots

You can grow baby’s breath plants from seeds or cuttings. In both cases, the best location to start is containers before transplanting them to your garden. Below are tips on how to care for baby’s breath plants in pots.

1. Choose containers that have good drainage

Baby’s breath plants thrive in soil with proper drainage. Water-logged soils can result in seed or cutting rot, preventing your plant from establishing. Also, too much water can dilute the plant’s nutrients to flourish. Always choose containers with plenty of holes to allow water to flow easily.

2. Prepare an alkaline soil mix

Baby’s breath plants prefer soil with pH 7 to 7.5 and offer proper drainage. This makes sandy soil the best choice for your container plants because it is porous enough to allow good drainage and is slightly alkaline. If sandy soil is unavailable, add garden lime to your soil mix to make it more alkaline and raise the container to promote good drainage.

3. Provide adequate sunshine

Place the pots in an area that receives at least six hours of sunshine. This ensures your baby’s breath plants can naturally manufacture their food and become less dependent on artificial fertilizer.  

4. Keep the soil moisture even

Once your baby’s breath plants start developing roots, it is essential to keep the soil moist. This is because the roots need moisture to absorb the plants’ nutrients to thrive. You can do this by adding mulch around the base of the plant to prevent the sun from drying the soil. Wood shavings and animal manure are great at retaining soil moisture while providing the soil with nutrients.

5. Provide stakes for extra support

Baby’s breath plant species include creepers and straight plants. As they begin to sprout, it is essential to provide a stake for the plant to establish a stable central stalk. Without a stake, the plant droops on the ground, leading to leaf rot if the soil is not well-drained. Stakes also protect your baby’s breath plants from strong winds. Exposing them to strong gusts can result in the central stalk breaking, which kills the plant.

6. Prune stray branches

Baby’s breath is a fast-growing plant that can spread unevenly without proper care. Ensure you cut off stray branches as the plant grows to maintain its compact structure and allow your blooms to look their best. Unlike other flowering plants, baby’s breath does not require deadheading, meaning you only need to look out for stray branches as the plant grows.

7. Have a backup water supply

Baby’s breath plants are drought-tolerant once established. Ensure you water them at least once a week if you live in extremely hot areas to maintain the soil moisture. Always water the plants at the base because wet flowers and branches can lead to fungal infections.  

Problems With Baby’s Breath Plants In Pots

Below are some problems you can experience with baby’s breath plants in pots.

1. Overshading

Baby’s breath plants thrive in full sunshine. Ensure your plants have adequate exposure to sunshine if you want to enjoy the fragrant blooms they produce in summer. Plants that do not get enough sunshine will appear leggy and struggle to bloom in summer.

The best place for potted baby’s breath plants is at the front of your patio, ahead of other plants.

2. Poor soil choice

Baby’s breath plants grow best in sandy, well-drained soil. Soils such as clay are too compact for the seeds to germinate and the roots to establish. Also, they have poor drainage, resulting in root rot and soil acidity.

3. Pests and plant diseases

Some of the pests that affect healthy baby’s breath healthy growth include, aphids, leafhoppers, and Japanese beetles. An indication of pest problems is discolored leaves or holes in the foliage. You can manage the situation using non-chemical remedies, such as citrus and soap sprays.

Root rot and fungal infections are among the plant diseases that affect baby’s breath. You can manage these by ensuring the pots have sufficient drainage to prevent water logging.

4. Pet poisoning

Baby’s breath is a toxic plant resulting in gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Ensure you elevate the pots to prevent easy access to them by your pets. Similarly, overexposure to the plants can result in sinus and skin irritation in humans. Ensure you have proper gardening equipment when caring for your potted baby’s breath. 

Best Soil For Baby’s Breath Plants

The best soil for baby’s breath plants is sandy soil of pH 7 to 7.5, with good drainage. You can also grow the plant in other soils by adding garden lime to increase alkalinity and organic matter to improve the soil texture.

Clay soil is the worst to grow baby’s breath because it is too compact for baby’s breath seeds to germinate and roots to establish. 

How To Plant Baby’s Breath Plants

Below are the steps on how to plant baby’s breath from seeds:

  1. Choose a flower bed at least 200 mm wide with adequate draining holes.
  2. Fill the container with a soil mix of pH 7 to 7.5. Sandy soil is the best for planting baby’s breath, but you can add organic matter and garden lime to other soil types to improve soil texture.
  3. If you are using seeds, spread them evenly across the flower bed, and cover them with a light layer of your garden soil mix.
  4. Keep watering the seeds regularly to maintain soil moisture as the seeds germinate. You should also provide at least six hours of sunshine to encourage seed germination. They take between 10 to 14 days before seedlings appear.
  5. Once your seedlings are about 2 inches tall, you can safely transplant them to your garden. Always plant baby’s breath seedlings at 12 inches apart to prevent competition. Also, ensure the planting area receives adequate sunshine, and the soil is well-drained.

How To Propagate Baby’s Breath

Always propagate baby’s breath from a mature plant, after one blooming season, for best results.

Below are the steps for propagating baby’s breath:

  1. Cut sections of about between 3 and 5 inches from a healthy stem.
  2. Remove the leaves from the lower third of the planting section. You can dip these sections in rooting hormone to encourage faster root growth.
  3. Bury the planting section in potting soil of pH 7 to 7.5, and add organic matter to maintain soil moisture. It takes about four weeks for the cuttings to establish. Then you can transplant them into your garden.
  4. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of full sunshine with well-drained soil. Then, transplant each cutting about a foot apart to prevent nutrient and moisture competition. 

How To Care For Baby’s Breath In Different Seasons

How To Care For Baby's Breath In Different Seasons

Baby’s breath plants are hardy and require low maintenance. Below are tips on how to care for them in different seasons.

How to care for baby’s breath in the spring

Spring is the best time to plant baby’s breath. Ensure you select an area with adequate sunshine and the soil is well-drained for your plants to thrive. 

How to care for baby’s breath in the fall

Cut the stems of your baby’s breath plant to about an inch above the ground to prepare them for winter. This helps them maintain their shape and also promotes soil moisture retention.

How to care for baby’s breath in winter

If you experience extreme winters, you can prune the plant to about an inch above the ground and surround it with mulch to maintain soil moisture. You can also move your potted plant into a shed where you can control the temperature variations.

What Does the Baby Breath Flower Mean?

For many years in the early 1990s, florist twigs breathed almost every bouquet and vase arrangement. And this subtle and inspiring flower is not commonly used now to preserve its beauty rather than overwhelm buyers, and you can still make good use of it as a complex symbol.

Many people have marveled at the baby’s breath peeking out of their corsage without knowing the deeper meaning behind it. These bright white dots symbolize

  • Everlasting and undying love, including family, platonic, and romantic bonds
  • Pureness and freedom from outside influences or corruption
  • The power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith
  • Innocence
  • Newborn babies of either gender
  • Reconnecting with lost loves or disconnected family members
  • Self-discipline and the ability to stay focused on love.

Etymological Meaning of the Baby Breath Flower

The flower we commonly call the baby’s breath is better known as the Gypsophila family. While you likely know the bright white variety best, there are pink and faintly yellow types too. The name is derived from the fact that all the flowers in this family thrive on soil high in gypsum, a mineral that makes the soil too thick and heavy for many other types of plants.

Symbolism of the Baby Breath Flower

Symbolism of the Baby Breath Flower

There is no doubt that the baby’s breathing flower is symbolic of long-term love because it is usually used to complete the wedding and decorations. Tiny white flowers represent pure emotion, the two should be for each other at the wedding.

In addition to the connotation of the marriage, the baby breathes also with the baby in a noticeable way. Its traditions are for new mothers to arrange flowers with at least one or two twigs of this plant. Self-discipline and loyalty are the flowers of this classic modern sense.

Baby Breath Flower Color Meanings

White is the best-selling color in the flower shop, but Gypsophila paniculata wild species show greater diversity. If you try to find a natural or light pink baby’s breath, use it to celebrate the birth of a baby girl or send a subtle message to infatuated feelings.

The creamy yellow type brings color to the meaning of light and happy wedding designs or vase arrangements. You may be able to find this kind of flower spray in a wide range of artificial colors if you visit a supplier of reasons, plants with liquid color.

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Baby Breath Flower

This flower symbolizes plenty, but it’s also useful in other ways. New research shows that it contains compounds that may boost the power of leukemia-fighting medications, while herbal specialists rarely use it. You can eat the root after baking it slowly to reduce the saponins that make it too bitter to eat, but it still doesn’t taste very good.

Special Occasions for the Baby Breath Flowers

Include baby’s breath in your:

  • Wedding arrangements
  • Baby shower gifts
  • Bouquets for children and other innocent individuals

The Baby Breath Flower’s Message Is…

The Baby Breath flower’s message is to stick with your loved ones and show them your dedication. Stay dedicated to your cause and remember the power of innocence.

FAQs

Why does a baby’s breath flower smell?

Baby’s breath flowers smell during bud opening because they contain methyl butyric acid, which is common in gypsophila plants.

What does a baby’s breath flower smell like?

The baby’s breath flower smells like spit, resulting in different reactions from people. Parents can liken the breath of their breastfeeding children.

How to make baby’s breath flower smell better?

You can improve the smell of baby’s breath by spraying them with essential oils like citrus and lavender. You can also tame the smell by combining them with other flowers like roses and peonies.

Why do cats like baby’s breath flowers?

Cats like baby’s breath flowers because they smell like a toddler’s breath after breastfeeding.

Why is the flower called baby’s breath?

Baby’s breath gets its name from its scent during bud opening, similar to a toddler’s spit. You can also associate the name with the plant’s small and delicate flowers. 

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