From the Greek gypsos, chalk, phileo, to love; the plants prefer chalky soils (Caryophyllaceae). Hardy annuals and perennials of great value in both the border and rock garden; the dwarf kinds also look well in pans in the alpine house. They are mainly natives of the eastern Mediterranean region.
Perennial species cultivated G. aretioides, 1 inch, a cushion plant for a sunny scree, with white, stemless flowers, spring. G. cerastioides, 3 inches, leaves in dense flat mats, white flowers much veined with purple, spring ; var. flore–pleno, double flowers. There are various garden forms. G. dubia, mat-like dark green foliage, white, pink-flushed flowers, spring, good for walls or crevices. G. pacifica (syn. G. oldhamiana), 3-4 feet, dark leaves, pink flowers in cloudy sprays, August and September. G. paniculata. baby’s breath, chalk plant, 2-3 feet, light sprays of white flowers occasionally pinkish, June to August; vars. compacta. 14 feet, forepleno, double flowers, a better form. Cultivars include ‘Bristol Fairy’, 3 feet, ‘Rosy Veil’ (sometimes called `Rosenchleirer), 9 inches, ‘Flamingo’, 2 feet large double pink flowers. G. repens, 6 inches, white flowers June to August ; vars. fratensis, compact form, pink flowers. rosea 9 inches, rose-pink. ‘Letchworth Rose’, 9 inches, is a named cultivar.
Cultivation Plant both rock garden and border kinds in autumn or spring, the rock garden sorts in pockets containing a large amount of mortar rubble or limestone chippings. Although the border kinds like limy soil, they are tolerant of other soils but need a sunny spot with good drainage. They provide useful cut flower material when well grown. Propagation of the annual species and G. repens and G. pacifica is from seed. G. paniculata itself comes true from seed but cuttings of the varieties should be taken in June. These should be of young growth with a heel. 2 inches long, inserted in silver sand with gentle bottom heat. Commercially named forms are propagated by root grafting. Trailing species can be increased by cuttings or by division in spring.
How to grow Gypsophila