Skip to main content

Baby's breath

(Gypsophila paniculata)

Photo of baby's breath
Photo credit: Emmet Judziewicz

Herbaceous perennial that can be 2-4’ tall. The blue-green stems are wiry and freely-branched. The stems are covered with a white powdery film and are hairless.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: tall baby's-breath, baby's-breath.
  • Scientific names: Gypsophila paniculata var. paniculata.
Ecological threat:
  • It is often found in wildflower mixes and is often used at weddings and in floral arrangements.
  • Prefers disturbed landscapes where it is typically not a problem. However, when it becomes established in sandy soils like the shores of the Great Lakes, it stabilizes the naturally shifting dunes and replaces native vegetation.

Classification in Wisconsin: Not regulated.

Identification

Leaves: Opposite, hairless, lance-shaped (1-4” long, 0.4” wide), and have one prominent vein. Leaves become smaller towards the top.

Flowers: White-pink, very small, numerous, and occur at ends of branches in loose clusters. They have a sweet fragrance and bloom July- August.

Fruits & seeds: Egg-shaped to round seed capsules containing 2-5 seeds.

Roots: Long, woody root up to 12’ deep.

Similar species: False baby’s breath (Galium mollugo) flowers have four white petals while there are five in baby’s breath. Also, leaves are in whorls of 6-8 leaves compared to the opposite leaves of baby’s breath.

Control

Mechanical: Dig out at least 4” below the soil surface and dispose of plant tops; spot burn with a propane torch in early spring. Monitor for resprouts.

Chemical: Foliar spray with imazapic with MSO at bud to early bloom stage.

Photos

View baby's breath pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 106
Links for more information: