Photo by Nettie Knits (Photopin)
Common baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), also known as maiden’s breath, is still frequently asked for at local garden centre. Yes, this is the plant used extensively by the floral industry in bouquets and dried arrangements. Unfortunately it is now another ornamental perennial favourite on the noxious weed list, and thus no longer available for purchase.
The perennial is highly branched (bushy), producing numerous tiny white, scented flowers with 5 petals. It can grow up to a meter tall. It spreads easily by seed (each plant producing thousands of seeds) and has a long, drought-tolerant tap root, making it hard to remove once established.
This plant should no longer be grown in Alberta and every effort should be made to control it where it cannot be removed. Please check wildflower mixes for this and other invasive plants before planting.
Note that other Gypsophila, such as G. repens or creeping baby’s breath are not on the noxious list. Alternative plants include pearl yarrow (Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’), which produces clusters of fluffy, double white flowers from June to September and is great in dried arrangements.
More on this and other invasive plants from the Alberta Native Species Council.