Baby's-Breath (Gypsophila paniculata L.)
An erect growing perennial with many branches on one stem. Plant height ranges from 30 to 90 cm (one to three feet). Plants appear to be covered with a bluish waxy bloom.
Leaves: Leaves located at swollen nodes are dark green to silver in colour, narrow, smooth and opposite each other on the stem. Lower leaves can be 10 cm (four inches) long and upper ones up to 2.5 cm (one inch) long. Both clasp the stem.
Flowers: Flowers vary in colour, from white to pale pink. These flowers, which are six mm across (1/4 in.) and numerous, are found on the ends of branches. This gives the plant a light, fluffy appearance. Flowering occurs from July through September.
Seeds: Four black seeds covered with concentric rows of bumps are found per black capsule.
By seeds only. Once established, the roots can store enough food reserves to ensure the plant's survival of two or more years of top growth removal. Below the perennial crown, at the soil surface, there are no buds to re-establish the plant if tilled.
Baby's-breath grows in waste areas, roadsides, hayfields and pastures. It prefers sandy soils where it roots deeply to ground water. Baby's-breath does not reduce forage productivity, but may prevent access to forage growing below dense stands.
This garden escapee is a prolific seed producer. It persists in areas of sub-marginal sandy farmland where either tame or native grasses have been overgrazed, leaving bare patches. However, there are many infestations in undisturbed areas.
Baby's-breath does not tolerate frequent disturbance, and is therefore rarely a problem in annual crops. Using heavy grazing early in the spring will help to reduce seed production and the subsequent spread of the plant. Mowing produces similar results, but remember that it will not control the existing plants. Flaming the crown of each baby's breath plant with a torch has been found to control a high percentage of plants. Severing the crown from the root with a sharp tool will also kill the plant.
As a garden ornamental. It was a common plant used in bouquets at funerals and weddings. Today, it is a common plant in dried flower arrangements.