Baby's Breath: How to Grow a Timeless Classic

Babys breath

Baby’s Breath has always played a supporting role in floral arrangements and is often overlooked. But this popular heirloom can add delicate, airy blossoms to your cottage garden. It is also a must-have in a cutting flower garden. Learn how easy it is to grow baby’s breath flowers from seed.


Baby’s breath has long been a filler flower in the floral industry. Many different species of baby’s breath are grown throughout the world. The Gypsophila elegans species is an annual that is a timeless classic.

How to Grow Baby’s Breath from Seed

Baby’s Breath seeds can be started indoors or sown directly outside. Baby’s breath seeds can be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost.


For direct sowing, wait until all danger of frost has passed. Barely cover seeds as light is required for germination. Keep seeds evenly moist until germination. Plant in succession every 2-3 weeks for a continuous harvest of blooms.

Tips for Baby's Breath Seed Germination

  • Baby’s breath seeds need light to germinate.

  • Gently press seeds into seed starting mix, and sprinkle very lightly with soil.

  • Moisten the seeds with a spray bottle.

  • Cover with a humidity dome to keep in moisture until the seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days.

  • Keep soil temperature between 70 to 75ºF.

Transplanting Baby’s Breath Seedlings

Once the seedlings are several inches high and have at least two true leaves, you can start preparing them for life outdoors by hardening them off. After all danger of frost has passed, you can transplant them outside. It’s a good idea to transplant seedlings in the late afternoon and water well so there is less transplant shock. When planting baby’s breath seedlings, plant them to the depth that the plant was already growing.


Growing Baby’s Breath


Baby’s breath needs full sun to produce blooms. This means at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. In hot growing zones, baby’s breath plants can have afternoon shade.


Well-drained soil is vital for growing baby’s breath. When the soil stays too wet, the roots can rot. An alkaline to neutral soil pH is best. Heavy clay soil that doesn’t drain well will need to be amended before planting baby’s breath. 


Give baby’s breath room to grow. Space plants 10 to 12 inches apart. The annual variety can grow to 18 inches tall.


Don’t give baby’s breath plants too much water. Once the plant is mature, it has a deep tap root. At this point, the top inch of soil can dry out between watering. One inch of water per week should be sufficient to keep your baby’s breath plants blooming. It grows easily in areas with dry soil and fits in well with xeriscaping.


These low-maintenance flowers don’t need extra nutrients. In fact, too much fertilizer can result in floppy stems.

Pruning and Deadheading

Pinching and cutting back baby’s breath will encourage the growth of more flowers. If you are not regularly cutting the stems for use in floral arrangements, you will need to deadhead the spent blooms to encourage more flower growth. Also, consider succession planting for fresh flowers all spring and summer.

Harvesting Baby’s Breath

Harvest when about ½  or ⅓ of the flowers on the stem are open. When harvesting baby’s breath, you can cut the stems as long as you want for arrangements. The cut flowers can be used fresh or dry.

Tips for Drying Baby’s Breath

When harvesting baby’s breath for drying, you want to cut stems when the blooms are at their peak. Cut when about half of the flowers are open. Once cut, hang the stems upside down to dry.

Baby’s Breath FAQs

What do baby’s breath flowers symbolize?

Baby’s breath is a symbol of everlasting love. This adds to its appeal as a flower for weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine's Day.

What flowers go well with baby’s breath?

Generally, these delicate flowers are added as a filler with larger blooms. The most common combinations are with roses or carnations. However, baby’s breath can also make a statement on its own. 

You can create a beautiful landscape by mixing baby’s breath with all kinds of wildflowers that have similar growing conditions. Baby’s breath is also beautiful with other airy flowers like cosmos.

Annual baby’s breath is a romantic and elegant flower that is easy to grow. Add this popular heirloom to your cottage or cutting flower gardens. With just a few seeds, you’ll have enough beautiful blooms for all your fresh and dried flower arrangements.


Written by Beverly Laudie

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