Gypsophila (baby’s breath) are annual, hardy perennial or alpine plants that are grown for their sprays of tiny, button-like flowers in summer, in shades of white or pale pink.
Gypsophilas are a member of the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae. They are much loved by flower arrangers because they combine well with pretty much any flower – they are a favourite in bridal bouquets. They do exactly the same in a border, where their thin, wiry stems and clouds of flowers make them an excellent ‘filler’, bridging the gap between different plants and bringing an airy feel to a planting scheme.
Gypsophilas are ideal for cottage gardens, white gardens, gravel gardens and, of course, cutting gardens – just give them plenty of sunshine and room to spread. Around five stems are perfect for a good display in a bouquet or vase and the blooms should last at least seven days in water. The flowers dry very easily for arrangements, too.
Alpine and miniature forms of gypsophila are low growing, and useful for rockeries, alpine troughs and for edging borders.
How to grow gypsophila
For best results grow gypsophila in moist but very well-drained, slightly alkaline or neutral soil. Deadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage repeat flowering. Avoid disturbing perennial plants once established, as they dislike root disturbance.
Gypsophila: jump links
- Planting gypsophila
- Caring for gypsophila
- Propagating gypsophila
- Growing gypsophila: problem-solving
- Buying gypsophila
- Best gypsophila to grow
Where to grow gypsophila
Gypsophila in a sunny spot and in free-draining soil – if you don’t have this, add plenty of grit when planting. Gypsophilas prefer a slightly alkaline soil (lime or chalk) but will grow in most neutral soils. Avoid acid soils.
How to plant gypsophila
Dig a hole that is the same depth as the plant’s pot, adding some compost and grit if your soil is heavy. Water in well.
Caring for gypsophila
Support taller plants in windy spots as the plant grows – use pea sticks or brushwood for a more natural look. Feed every few weeks with a general liquid fertiliser. Cut down the flower stems after flowering – this may produce a second flush of flowers in late autumn.
How to propagate gypsophila
Sow seeds of annual gypsophila direct in April or September, where they are to flower, as they dislike root disturbance. If you’re growing them for cutting, sow successionally every few weeks from April until June. Perennial varieties of gypsophila can be propagated by taking basal cuttings. Alpine varieties can be divided in March.
Growing gypsophila: problem solving
Gypsophila are generally free of most pests and diseases. The main problem you are likely to encounter are problems with winter wet – gypsophila do not enjoy sitting in cold, wet soil. Add plenty of grit when planting to avoid root or stem rot.
Advice on buying gypsophila
- Ensure that you have the right conditions to grow gypsophila – they need alkaline to neutral, well-drained soil in full sun
- Check that the variety you are buying is annual (which will flower and die in one year) or perennial, coming back year after year
- You can buy gypsophila plants at the garden centre, but for the best selection visit a specialist nursery or buy online
Where to buy gypsophila online
Varieties of gypsophila to grow
Gypsophila paniculata ‘Snowflake’ – masses of snow-white flowers blooms on strong stems, in early summer. A perennial variety that is perfect for bouquets, dried flower arrangements and filling gaps in the border.
Height x Spread: 90cm x 40cm
Gypsophila paniculata ‘Bristol Fairy’ – a perennial variety with double white flowers, also good for filling gaps in the border, cutting and dried flowers.
H x S: 1.2m x 1.2m
Gypsophila ‘Rosenscheier’ – a compact, perennial variety. The white flowers fade to pink as they mature.
H x S: 50cm x 40cm
Gypsophila elegans ‘Covent Garden’ – a pretty white annual variety that’s excellent for cutting.
H x S: 45cm x 45cm
Gypsophila cerastiodes (mouse-eared gypsophila) – a dwarf, semi-evergreen alpine type with a creeping habit. Green-grey, hairy leaves contrast with masses of small white trumpet-shaped flowers in spring and summer, loved by pollinators.
H x S: 5cm x 15cm
Gypsohila repens ‘Rosea’ – a pretty, creeping pink variety, ideal for rockeries or planting in stone walls.
H x S: 10cm x 45cm