Gypsophila elegans or Showy Baby's-breath, is a short lived annual native to Southern Ukraine, Eastern Turkey and Northern Iran, but has achieved naturalized status in North America. The plant has blue-green linear-lanceolate leaves up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) long. Plants will reach up to 18 inches (45 cm) tall. We use this plant in our "Plant Care and Cultivation" class at OU to show how short lived some plants are. The plant has a life span of 5-6 weeks. Florists use the flowers as filler in bouquets and it is used in the landscape as a rock garden plant. For a long blooming season, one must plant seeds every 3-4 weeks for continuous bloom.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants bloom in about 4 weeks from seed, making this an ideal plant for children to grow and watch in classroom or garden. The profuse single white flowers are up to 1/2 inch (~10 mm) across. They are very showy.
Culture: Gypsophila elegans need full sun to light shade, preferring a slightly acid soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. To this mix, we add 1 cup of hydrated lime to adjust pH. We also add 1 cup 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer to every 0.01 cu yards of soil mix. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. While the plants are actively growing, we supplement the fertilizer with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label on a weekly basis. Once plants set bloom, we do not fertilize again. Since the plants only last 5-6 weeks, after seed set we allow the plants to die off. By this time the next planting should be coming into bloom.
Propagation: Gypsophila elegans is best propagated from seed.
Gypsophila elegans was featured as Plant of the Week November 23-29, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.