Gypsophila spp. (jip-SOF-il-uh)
Baby’s breath features clusters of tiny single, semidouble or double florets in small branched clusters (panicles) on delicate multibranched stems. Sparse tiny foliage appears at nodes on main stems. The stems of commercially grown varieties are usually 24 to 36 inches long.
Most varieties of Gypsophila that are cultivated as cut flowers are white; however, some pale pink and rose-colored varieties are available. These flowers also can be stem dyed, dip dyed or spray dyed, to increase the color choices.
With proper care and handling, baby’s breath can last from five to 10 days, depending on variety. The tiny blooms of some varieties of baby’s breath are prone to drying out quickly.
Baby’s breath is available year-round.
Unpack Gypsophila immediately upon its arrival, and check flower quality. Remove stem bindings and any leaves on the lower portions of the stems, then rinse the lower stems under tepid running water.
HYDRATION AND NUTRITION
Recut stem ends with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem, and immediately dip or place them into a hydration solution, to help the flowers take up water more quickly and easily (Gypsophila is easily water stressed). Then place stems into sterilized containers with 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm (100 F to 110 F) properly proportioned flower-food solution.
Refrigerate baby’s breath at 33 F to 36 F and 90 percent to 94 percent humidity, and allow these flowers to take up water for at least two hours before designing with or selling them.
Caution: Gypsophila can easily contract Botrytis (gray mold), a fungal disease, during cold storage if the blooms are wet and/or if the humidity level in the cooler is too high. Never store containers of Gypsophila in plastic bags for extended periods of time.
Baby’s breath is extremely sensitive to ethylene and will display symptoms of wilt when exposed to the gas. Check with your suppliers to ensure an ethylene inhibitor is administered at the farm or during shipping. Also, keep these flowers away from sources of ethylene (fruits and vegetables, decaying flowers and foliage, automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke) in your facilities.
Bacterial contamination of the vase solution, which plugs stem ends and causes the flower-food solution to become smelly, occurs rapidly with these flowers, so change the flower-food solution, wash the containers, and recut the stems every other day. To help slow this contamination, place Gypsophila stems into a bleach solution (about 20 drops, or 1/4 teaspoon, per quart of water) for several minutes between the hydration solution treatment and the fresh-flower food solution.
• Enhancing bloom opening
To accelerate the opening of the tiny blooms, rapidly “shake” the freshly cut stems of the bunches up and down in a container of warm flower-food solution. Buds will pop open like miniature popcorn. Some researchers say that adding one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of flower-food solution also can promote bloom opening.
• Untangling stems
The stems of some Gypsophila varieties can become entwined easily and can be damaged if not separated carefully. To untangle stems, hold them upside down, and gently shake them up and down to loosen and separate.
• Drying and preserving tips
Gypsophila can be air dried by placing it upright in an empty vase or hanging it upside down in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated environment. These flowers also can be preserved in a glycerin/water mixture (one part glycerine to two parts water).
• toxicity alert
Chemical compounds (saponins) in baby’s breath stems can cause asthmatic or dermatological reactions in some people, so be careful when handling these flowers. Use latex gloves, if needed.
Gypsophila is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family. Close cut flower relatives include Dianthus (carnations, sweet Williams) and Saponaria (soapwort).
HOME SWEET HOME
Gypsophila is indigenous to the region from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, particularly eastern Turkey and northern Iran.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus name “Gypsophila” is from the Greek gypsos (gypsum) and philos (loving), in reference to this flower’s preference for soils high in calcium (lime).
• ‘Million Stars®’ – small semidouble blooms
• ‘Fun Time Ultra’ – small blooms
• ‘Mirabella’ (Polar Bear Series) –
• ‘Golan’ – medium-sized semidouble blooms
• ‘New Love’ – medium-sized semidouble
• ‘Yukinko’ – medium-sized semidouble/
• ‘Dynamic Love™’ – medium-sized double
• ‘Orion™’ – medium-sized double blooms
• ‘Over Time’ – large blooms
• ‘Bristol Fairy’ – large double blooms
• ‘Cassiopeia™’ – large double blooms
• ‘Danapurna’ – large double blooms
• ‘New Hope’ – large double blooms
• ‘Perfecta’ – large double blooms
• ‘Pinkolina’ - medium-sized semidouble
• ‘Flamingo’ – large double blooms
• ‘My Pink’ – large double blooms
• ‘Pink Fairy’ – large double blooms
• ‘Pink Star’ – large double blooms
For maximum vase life, purchase Gypsophila when about one-third to one-half of the florets are open. Check bunches for brown, shriveled and dried-out blooms as well as signs of wilt/water stress.
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Some information provided
Botanica, by R.J. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® , www.chainoflife.org
Cut Flowers, by C. Gelein
Cut Flowers of the World
by Johannes Maree and Ben-Erik Van Wyk
Fresh Cut Flowers, by Gregory Milner
by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
New Pronouncing Dictionary of Plant Names
by Florists’ Publishing Company
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
by William T. Stearn