Baby’s breath is a perennial herbaceous plant that can reach heights of 3 feet. It has a highly branched, bushy appearance studded with numerous distinctive small white flowers. The leaves are commonly not seen in floral arrangements; they are opposite, narrow, lance-shaped, and hairy. Baby’s breath has a large taproot which can resprout if the plant is cut. It is a prolific seed producer, releasing 10,000 seeds or more per plant.
Baby’s breath is a common filler in floral arrangements. When the arrangement has finished blooming, the cut flowers can still produce seeds. This discarded seed is a source of new infestations. Once in the landscape, it forms dense monocultures which outcompete and displace native species. The plants tend to break off at ground-level and become tumbleweeds; this serves to disperse seeds widely as well. It is tolerant of a wide range of conditions which makes it a superior competitor.
This species is difficult to control once established and you can help to prevent its spread by properly disposing of spent floral arrangements in garbage bags or burning if local ordinances allow.
- Small infestations can be controlled by cutting, digging, or spot herbicide treatment. Hand-pulling is difficult due to the tenacity of the root system.
- Larger infestations should be cut or mowed to prevent seed production. Mowing should be used in conjunction with properly-timed herbicide treatment.
- Heavy and continuous grazing can help by preventing seed production and applying pressure to mature plants. Deep tillage can be effective as well.