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What is Baby's Breath?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Baby's breath is a term used to refer to annual flowers in the genus Gypsophila, all of which are characterized by highly branched stems and small white to pink flowers. The lacy appearance of the flowers make baby's breath a popular filler in dried and fresh bouquets, and means that the plant also appears in garden spaces which need blocks of color to fill them. The flowers are very easy to cultivate, and many beginning gardeners start with baby's breath as it grows quickly, looks attractive, and is quite difficult to kill. The plant thrives best when left more or less alone, making it an excellent choice for busy gardeners.

When growing baby's breath, it can be planted from seeds or seedlings, as long as it is started after the last frost of the year. Plants should be spaced approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) apart, and some varieties will grow as high as 12 inches (30 centimeters) in well cared for. Baby's breath thrives in USDA zones three through nine, and prefers well-drained, alkaline to neutral soil, along with full to part sun. The plants should be watered frequently, but the soil around their roots should not be allowed to get water logged. When the plants bloom, they can be left in the garden as a decorate accent or cut for drying.

When growing in the garden, baby's breath looks like a lacy field of mist, especially when planted in a large area. This may explain the common name, as the plants could resemble the breath of a baby on a cool morning. Eventually, the flowers will start to dry and go to seed, at which point the baby's breath can be removed so that the bed can be mulched. Each year, the baby's breath should be reseeded or if you live in a cold area, you can start seedlings inside a greenhouse.

When using baby's breath in fresh bouquets, make sure to select sturdy, even, well formed branches of flowers. Pick a little bit more than you think you need so that you can trim branches down to fit for the perfect bouquet shape. If you are drying baby's breath, select large, well branched specimens and hang them upside down to dry; baby's breath dries readily and will look attractive on its own or added to dried flower displays.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On May 15, 2011

I love to grow Baby's Breath for its tiny white and pink flowers. I always leave a lot of room when planting because one of my favorite things to do is dry them.

I will collect the tiny flowers in bunches, wrap some floral tape around the ends, and hang them upside down to air-dry. You can also put them in a waterless vase upright to dry. Another method that works if you want faster results is to put them in the microwave for three to four minutes on medium heat setting.

Whatever way you choose, you will have beautiful dried flowers that you can use for many floral projects.

By julies — On May 14, 2011

Baby's breath is such an elegant, beautiful flower. Because it is so easy to grow, it is always easy to find either in packets of seed or already growing in a greenhouse.

I think it complements almost any wedding theme. I have seen it used not only in the brides bouquet, but in all of the wedding flowers. It is so elegant worked in any floral arrangement and beautifully complements the bridesmaid dresses too.

You can't go wrong with such a carefree flower.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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