Baby´s Breath (Gypsophila)
The Baby´s Breath or Gypsophila comes from the family of the clove family (Caryophyllaceae). There are two enduring species that are relevant to our gardens: The high veil herb (Gypsophila paniculata) and the carpet veil herb (Gypsophila repens). The High Gypsophila originates from the Rocky Mountains, but has also become wild in nature on stony, sandy places from Southeast Europe to Western Siberia. The carpets of the cushion veil can be found in the mountains of Central Europe, especially in the Alps and Pyrenees on rough grasslands and gravel fields.
Appearance and growth
Over time, the high veil herb grows into a semi-circular perennial that grows one metre high and one metre wide. As soon as it blooms, it is reminiscent of a feather-light white cloud with its hundreds of small flowers that bloom in the form of airy panicles on the branched stems. The carpet-veilgrass is no less densely covered with flowers, but it extends over the ground at a height of only about 25 centimeters. The flower magic of the gypsophila lasts from June to September. There are very pretty varieties that flower pink or whose flowers are filled. The small leaves are lanceolate and grey-green to blue-green in colour.
Location and soil
The botanical genus name reflects the preference of the vetiver for calcareous soils. For Gypsophila, also called gypsophila, is composed of the Greek words “gypso” (plaster) and “philos” (friend). It is very important for his well-being that the floor is permeable. This is because the deep tap roots rot in stagnant water, especially in winter. According to its origin, the veil herb loves lean substrates such as sand or gravel and warm, sheltered and sunny garden areas, whereas the cushioned veil herb likes a bit fresher and cooler at the feet.
Baby´s Breath or Gypsophila is best planted in spring. If you want to plant the shrub in autumn, you should place it in the bed by mid-September at the latest. So that the tap roots can easily penetrate the soil, it is advisable to loosen the subsoil. As Gypsophila paniculata spreads in the bed, you should keep a distance of 80 centimeters between young plants and neighbours. Smaller varieties may be planted more densely. Anyone who wishes to have a closed flower carpet made of upholstered veil herb distributes around eleven pieces per square metre when planting. It is important not to mix peat or compost under the garden soil.
If you offer the gypsophila a permeable, not too damp soil and a warm, protected place, the maintenance effort is low. While the high gypsophila is happy about a small portion of fertilizer in spring, Gypsophila repens does not need a regular supply. If necessary, the shrubs should be fertilized with garden lime in autumn. The perennials do not have to be watered. In windy places it is sometimes necessary to support the high veil herb and stuffed varieties such as ‘rose veil’. If you want to rejuvenate your gypsophila, you can divide the root balls in spring. It is best to use a sharp knife for this purpose. Especially with Gypsophila repens you should make sure that there are some fine roots and shoots on each piece. When the first flower pile wears off, you may cut back the carpet veil a hand’s width above the ground. This promotes post-flowering – in good locations already after six weeks.
Gypsophila is winterproof. Only in tubs should it be protected. But not from icy cold, but from too much moisture from above.
With its clouds of blossoms, the high gypsophila brings lightness into the bed. In every respect good companions are beard iris, lavender, ball thistle or feather grass. A welcome couple, but different in their demands on the soil: roses and gypsophila. When combined, the terrain around the gypsophila should at least be well drained. If you have many bulb flowers, you can use Gypsophila to hide the yellowed leaves of late-flowering tulips or ornamental garlic.
The carpet veil herb is ideal as a ground cover in bedding, but also fills pretty gravelly gaps between floor slabs, in rock gardens or on wall crowns. Charming companions are upholstered soapwort, kitchen bells or mountain sedges. In addition, veil herbs also inhabit vessels easily and are a good decoration for vases – both fresh and dried.
Important species and varieties
Gypsophila paniculata ‘Bristol Fairy’: 100 centimeters high, white double flowers, blooms from late June to mid-September.
Gypsophila paniculata ‘Flamingo’: 120 centimeters high, pink double flowers, flowering time from the end of June to mid-September.
Gypsophila hybrid ‘rose veil’: 30 to 40 centimeters high, pink double flowers, flowering time from June to August
Gypsophila repens ‘Rosa Schönheit’: deep pink flowers, flowering time from May to July
Offspring of the gypsophila can be grown from seeds from March to June. It can happen that not all sown plants flower uniformly white, but occasionally pink. Upholstered veil herb is best propagated via cuttings. They are cut in spring from young shoots with a thickened root at the end and then put up to the leaves in a box with sowing soil. For a good success you should place both the sowing and the cuttings under glass or foil.
Diseases and pests
With the exception of snails, which like to attack the young shoots in the spring, gypsophila is rarely attacked by pests and plant diseases.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.