Baby’s breath, or Gypsophila, is an important crop for specialty cut-flower farmers. Popular for their use as filler in cut-flower arrangements, baby’s breath plants have also made their way into home flower gardens. With their large, airy growth habit, it is easy to see why many growers choose baby’s breath when wishing to make a profound statement in the garden. Like any plant, however, there are many garden pests that may prevent baby’s breath plants from reaching their full potential. Read on to learn more about insects on Gypsophila plants.
Gypsophila Plant Pests
Though invasive in some places, baby’s breath plants are not impervious to damage that can be done by insects in the garden. Pests of baby’s breath plants can cause both failure of bloom, as well as complete collapse of the plant if young or not yet well established.
As with any plant in the flower garden, when identifying Gypsophila plant pests, it is imperative that growers are able to distinguish between beneficial and nuisance insects. You should begin looking for insects on Gypsophila before the plants begin to show signs of damage. This can be done by inspecting the plants on a weekly basis.
Leafhoppers on Baby’s Breath Plants
While there are quite a few bugs that eat baby’s breath, one of the most common and more serious are leafhoppers. Adult leafhoopers are small green-yellow bugs with black spots, while leafhopper nymphs are smaller and appear lighter in color.
These Gypsophila plant pests are a common pest to other flowers in the garden too, such as asters. In fact, these leafhoppers are responsible for the spread of an infection called aster yellows. Aster yellows is a disease that can cause the yellowing and loss of the baby’s breath plants.
Damage from leafhoppers and other baby’s breath pests may first present as small yellow or white spots on the foliage of the plant. Eventually, the damaged leaves will fall from the plant.
While the presence of leafhoppers may not be able to be prevented, gardeners can take measures to help avoid infestation.
One of the most effective ways to prevent leafhopper damage is to cover plants using a lightweight row cover in early spring. Many growers also choose to apply neem oil as a means to control the leafhopper populations. As always, make certain to carefully read and apply any chemical product to the flower garden as directed per the manufacturer’s label.