Gypsophila: like snowflakes in the sun...
Gypsophila is amazingly versatile. The delicate florets look wonderful in romantic floral work such as garlands and country bouquets. Those who prefer a more pared down, natural look can tie the stems to create a compact bundle, which looks fabulous combined with other white flowers.
Gypsophila is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family, which also includes carnations and sweet William. The Latin name refers to the plant’s preference for chalky soil. Gypsum means plaster of Paris (calcium sulphate) and chalk friend. Its English name is Baby’s Breath.
This gauzy plant is a native of a huge area that stretches from central to the far South of Russia, Siberia and the Caucasus. There are more than one hundred varieties of Gypsophila: annuals and perennials, tall varieties and even creeping varieties (often used in rockeries). The Gypsophila variety grown for cutting has an upright growth habit with strongly branching stems. These are covered with minute white or pink florets.
Gypsophila is available all year round. The branching stems tangle easily. Untangle them with care to avoid breaking the stems. The usual tips for care apply to Gypsophila: use a sharp knife to cut a piece off the stems, remove the lower leaves (to ensure none hang in the water) and stand the flowers in a clean vase filled with fresh water and cut flower food. Gypsophila is undemanding when used in garlands or swags; the flowers look good even when they start to dry.
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