Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Of all the blossoms commonly used for cut flowers, baby’s breath is perhaps the most popular. The tiny, white, misty blooms seem to cover the stem, adding an airy look to fresh floral designs.
In addition, the delicate, cloudlike blossoms retain their attractive appearance even when dry, so they are particularly good for dried floral bouquets.
I’ve found it’s very easy to keep a good supply of baby’s breath for cutting simply by growing a few plants in the cutting garden. If you run out of space there, put some in your flower beds or vegetable garden. The dwarf varieties can even be grown in containers.
The individual plants will usually remain in bloom for about four to six weeks. For a constant supply throughout the summer and fall, I do successive plantings about every two to three weeks or so from the late spring and summer.
Both the annual and perennial species of baby’s breath are easy to grow. The advantage to the perennial ones is that you only have to plant it once. Then, it will produce flowers for years.
Baby’s breath is available as plants and as seed from local stores and through catalogs.
Traditionally, baby’s breath blooms have been white though now there are new varieties in other colors, such as pink.
Cultural requirements for all the baby’s breath species are the same. Most garden soils are adequate. They prefer a well-drained soil. If your garden soil is somewhat acidic, you may need to add lime to adjust the pH to the proper level. Plants such as carnations and other kinds of cut flowers needing a less acidic soil can be planted together with baby’s breath.
If you are growing your own baby’s breath from seed, you can either direct sow where it is to grow, or start it in containers for transplanting. Baby’s breath seeds are extremely tiny. Sow them as thinly as possible by first mixing it with dry peat moss or sand.
For best results, wait until the weather has warmed. These seeds need a minimum temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. Transplant or thin the annual types until they are about a foot apart. Larger perennial varieties can be spaced around two feet apart. Both types will tolerate full sun and partial shade.
Usually, perennial baby’s breath will bloom the first year if it is started indoors very early in the spring. The annual types will begin flowering within three months from the time the seeds are sown. In places with long growing seasons, it will bloom throughout the summer well into the fall. However, if you are in a hurry and don’t wish to plant seeds, annual plants are available at local garden centers.
What I usually do is direct sow the annual ones as early as possible in the cutting garden. I start the perennial ones in pots for transplanting after the weather warms.
Of the annual varieties that are available, Covent Garden baby's breath is one of the most commonly grown. This is around 1½ feet in height. It has the largest blooms of most all the annual types.
Among the recommended perennial varieties is Bristol Fairy baby's breath. This long-time favorite has small, white blossoms. This is a particularly vigorous, quick-growing variety.
To add a touch of color to bouquets, try growing one of the pink varieties of baby’s breath.
Whether you plan to use baby’s breath in fresh or dried floral arrangements, you’ll find it’s easy to grow in cutting gardens.