fresh flower

gypsophila

This consumer favorite is available in more than just white.


by Steven W. Brown, AIFD


Gypsophila 'Million Stars®'

Baby's breath


 

1   little flowers mean lots. Gypsophila, pronounced “jip-SOF-i-la” and commonly known as baby’s breath, are tiny flowers that are unequaled in their use and popularity in the floral industry. Their delicate, airy, cloudlike appearance of single, double or semidouble florets on multibranched stems make them the No. 1 choice for accent (filler) flowers.

 

  decisions, decisions. Two forms of Gypsophila are cultivated as cut flowers: the annual G. elegans and the perennial G. paniculata, which is most widely grown as a cut flower. 

•  Popular white varieties include:

  ‘Million Stars’ - small, semidouble flowers

  ‘Golan’ - medium, semidouble flowers

  ‘New Love’ - medium, semidouble/ double flowers

  ‘Yukinko’ - medium, semidouble/double flowers

  ‘Bristol Fairy’ - large, double flowers

  ‘Danapurna’ - large, double flowers

  ‘New Hope’ - large, double flowers

  ‘Perfecta’- large, double flowers

•  Popular pink varieties include:

  ‘Pinkolina’ - medium, semidouble flowers

  ‘Flamingo’ - large, double flowers

  ‘My Pink’ - large, double flowers

  ‘Pink Fairy’ - large, double flowers

 

3  the carnation family. Gypsophila is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family. Cut flower relatives include Dianthus (carnations, miniature/spray carnations, sweet Williams) and Saponaria (soapwort).

 

4  origins. Gypsophila is indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean region of Europe and Northern Asia. Its name is Greek for “gypsum-loving,” in reference to this flower’s preference for high-calcium (gypsum) soils.

 

5  all seasons. Gypsophila is available year-round from both domestic and international growers. It is most often grown as a field crop, but in some areas, it is grown as a greenhouse crop.

 

6  baby care. For maximum vase life, purchase Gypsophila when about one-third of the florets are open. Upon arrival, cut at least 1 inch from the stem ends. Dip or place the stems into a hydration solution, then place them into a properly prepared fresh-flower-food solution. Refrigerate the flowers at 34 F to 36 F and 90 percent to 94 percent humidity, and allow them to take up water for at least two hours before designing with or selling them. With proper care and handling, Gypsophila can last from seven to 10 days.

 

7  pop, pop. If Gypsophila is purchased when the flower buds are too tight, you can speed the opening of the florets by rapidly “shaking” the stems of the bunches up and down in a container of warm water. Florets will pop open like miniature popcorn.

 

8  no ethylene. Gypsophila is extremely sensitive to ethylene gas and will display symptoms of accelerated wilting if exposed. Check with your suppliers to be sure an ethylene-inhibiting treatment has been administered at the farm or during transportation. Keep these flowers away from fruits and vegetables, automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke and other sources of ethylene. You can seal buckets of Gypsophila in plastic bags to limit exposure to ethylene, but be sure to check the moisture level inside the bags frequently to prevent fungal diseases in the blooms.

 

9  hang it up. Gypsophila can be air dried by hanging it upside down, or it can be preserved in a glycerin/water mixture.

 

10  medicinal properties. Saponin in the plants’ roots is frequently used as an ingredient in expectorants and spermicides; however, that same substance can cause asthmatic or dermatological reactions in some people, so be careful when handling Gypsophila. Use latex gloves, if needed. 

 

some information from

 David Repetto, Repetto’s Nursery, Half Moon Bay, Calif.; Veseys, www.veseys.com; Flora of North America, www.efloras.org; Society of American Florists (SAF), www.aboutflowers.com.

 

 

Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco, with 29 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry. Contact him at sbfloral@aol.com or (415) 239-3140.



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