What’s small, dainty, versatile, and easy to work with when you’re putting a bunch together? You guessed it, it’s Baby’s Breath! Commonly known as the filler flower, this beauty has been gracing bouquets and homes for many years, but don’t pigeonhole them as such. Truth is, it might be wiser to make Baby’s Breath the star of the show. Read on to find out what makes them so special!
Baby’s Breath Origins In One Breath
Baby’s Breath is also known as Gypsophila — a bit of a tongue-twister, but there’s a reason why it’s named as such! It draws inspiration from the Greek word gypsos and philios, which means gypsum (i.e. a mineral) and loving respectively. Incidentally, gypsum-rich soil is where it grows best, a true gypsum-loving plant.
Of course, that’s not the only reason why the name stuck: The flowers themselves were widely used as a special baby shower gift! But, more on what they mean later.
Baby’s Breath Varieties
There are about 150 species of Baby’s Breath in total, making them one of the largest groups within the Carnation family. In fact, they’re so widely distributed that some areas in North America and the Pacific Northwest have classed them as an invasive species — shocking considering the love these blooms receive. Here, we take a look at some of the more popular varieties:
The Gypsophila Paniculata, or common Baby’s Breath, is double flowering, making them fluffier compared to other Baby’s Breath. This pretty cloud-like effect softens outlines in flower arrangements, so they’re a common sight in bunches!
The Gypsophila Elegans is also known as the showy Baby’s Breath. Much like their name suggests, they produce larger flowers that bloom wide open. They’re also far hardier, which is why you’ll sometimes find it in the wild, along the road.
The iconic star-like flowers set the Gypsophila Repens apart from the rest, but that’s not the only thing that’s different about them. Rather than growing upwards, this particular breed inches along the ground and rocks, which is why they’re more famously known as creeping Baby’s Breath.
Baby’s Breath Meanings And Symbolism
Remember when we mentioned how it’s popular to gift Baby’s Breath during baby showers? While the flower itself has become closely associated with everlasting love, it’s also the symbol of the Holy Spirit, innocence, and new beginnings.
If the Baby’s Breath appeared to you in a dream, it’s said to be a sure sign of your craving for closeness, and a desire to shower your loved ones with the devotion they deserve!
Meaning Of White Baby’s Breath
The white Baby’s Breath is a symbol of unity, innocence, and spirituality. Because of what it represents, it’s a common sight at wedding ceremonies and baby showers.
Meaning Of Pink Baby’s Breath
The pink Baby’s Breath stands for gentleness, tender love, and romance. It’s best gifted to those near and dear to you!
Meaning Of Red Baby’s Breath
Red Baby’s Breath represents… you got that right, love and passion! There’s not much else to say really, except that it makes for a great gift between two lovers.
Meaning Of Purple Baby’s Breath
The purple Baby’s Breath is thought to be connected to beauty and royalty, so it’s the go-to choice if you want to make a grand ol’ statement with your gift.
Meaning Of Blue Baby’s Breath
The symbol of honesty, present blue Baby’s Breath to those whom you respect and trust with all your heart.
Meaning Of Orange Baby’s Breath
Like how the colour warms the cockles of our hearts, the orange Baby’s Breath stands for joy and optimism, a Happy Bunch for those looking to cheer someone on.
Meaning Of Yellow Baby’s Breath
Yellow Baby’s Breath stands for happiness and friendships, a truly radiant bunch if you’re looking to brighten up a loved one’s day!
A Breath Of Fresh Air: Baby’s Breath Fun Facts
- Baby’s breath is mildly toxic to cats, so remember to keep your furry companions away if you have these in the home.
- If you’ve noticed that the fluffy petals bear a striking resemblance to that of the Carnation, you’re not far off! The Baby’s Breath is actually part of the Carnation family, Caryophyllaceae.
- Don’t be fooled by its name; these babies are not small in stature, and can grow up to 1.2m tall and span up to 30-50cm!
- Some Baby’s Breath species have edible roots and have been cultivated to be used in medicine.
- They can be planted in boron-rich soil to absorb the poisonous material!
- Some chemicals found within Baby’s Breath can break down cancer cells, which is why the flower is being explored in cancer research!
Baby’s Breath 101
Unlike other flowering plants, cut Baby’s Breath is very long-lasting. You might notice some tiny blooms withering, but most will last anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Of course, with the proper care shown to them, you can lengthen their lifespan easily. Some tricks of the trade below:
How To Care For Your Cut Baby’s Breath
For starters, you’ll always want to keep them away from air-conditioning. This will help prevent dryness. But, most importantly:
- Before placing in a vase, remove all foliage below the waterline, and rinse the lower portion of the stems under running water.
- Though they may thrive in dry soil and are resistant to drought, you will still need to keep them hydrated. Cut off a diagonal inch from the end of the stems with a sharp, clean knife, and place them in lukewarm water about 3-4 inches deep to encourage them to drink up.
- Trim the stems and change the water daily to preserve freshness.
- If you’re planning on using flower food, note that your vase has to be cleaned out every day since Baby’s Breath flowers can cause the solution to get smelly really quickly.
- It’s important not to “mist” Baby’s Breath as it can cause the flowers to brown.
For a more detailed walkthrough on how to take care of cut flowers, visit our Flower Care Guide.
Where Is The Best Place To Keep A Bunch Of Baby’s Breath?
Potted Baby’s Breath grows best in full sun, so pick a spot that gets minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight a day! Too much shade will result in poor flowering and straggly plants.
These babies also need some tender love and care — they’re extremely sensitive to ethylene (a gas found in fruits, veggies, and cigarette smoke), and will wilt if exposed to it. It’s best to place them in an open area, with a lot of air circulation.
How To Dry Your Baby’s Breath Flowers
Baby’s Breath make for great décor pieces, so if you have a bunch headed your way, here’s how you can dry and keep them:
- Trim the stems to your ideal height and examine the flowers closely. Discard any blooms that are browning or damaged.
- Twine them up or bundle with a rubber band, and hang them upside-down to air-dry in a cool and dark space to prevent colours from fading.
- This drying process can take up to 14 days, and will produce ethylene gas — yes, the very one that causes them to wilt — so keep your room well-ventilated!
- Alternatively, you can speed the drying up process by placing the flowers in a vase with one part glycerin and two parts water.
While Baby’s Breath isn’t toxic to humans, it’s important to note that the flowers can cause allergic reactions, especially for the dried variations. Do throw them out if you find that your skin is getting irritated!
Catch Your Breath For That’s A Wrap!
From its slim, elegant stems to its delicate blossoms, the Baby’s Breath is a wonder to behold. While it’s mostly used as a filler, it too deserves its own time in the spotlight, and is more than capable of making a statement in a Happy Bunch of flowers!
Loved this read? Check out our Flower Dictionary for more flower fun facts.