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Baby's breath

Baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata)

Herbaceous perennial that can be 2-4’ tall. The blue-green stems are wiry and freely-branched. The stems are covered with a white powdery film and are hairless.


Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: tall baby's-breath, baby's-breath
  • Scientific names: Gypsophila paniculata var. paniculata

Ecological threat:

  • Is often found in wildflower mixes and is often used at weddings and in floral arrangements.
  • Prefers disturbed landscapes where it is typically not a problem. However, when it becomes established in sandy soils like the shores of the Great Lakes, it stabilizes the naturally shifting dunes and replaces native vegetation.

Classification in Wisconsin: Not regulated.


Leaves: Opposite, hairless, lance-shaped (1-4” long, 0.4” wide), and have one prominent vein. Leaves become smaller towards top.

Flowers: White-pink, very small, numerous, and occur at ends of branches in loose clusters. They have a sweet fragrance and bloom July- August.

Fruits & seeds: Egg-shaped to round seed capsules containing 2-5 seeds.

Roots: Long, woody root up to 12’ deep.

Similar species: False baby’s breath (Galium mollugo) flowers have four white petals while there are five in baby’s breath. Also, leaves are in whorls of 6-8 leaves compared to the opposite leaves of baby’s breath.


Known county distribution of baby's breath
Counties in WI where baby's breath has been reported (as of July 2011). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have baby's breath in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.


Mechanical: Dig out at least 4” below soil surface and dispose of plant tops; spot burn with propane torch in early spring. Monitor for resprouts.

Chemical: Foliar spray with imazapic with MSO at bud to early bloom stage.


View baby's breath pictures in our photo gallery!


Sources for content:

  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 106

Links for More Information

Last revised: Monday December 11 2017