New for 2021: Prairie Baby’s Breath

Prairie Baby's Breath

This lovely and little-known wildflower from the western prairies also grows in prairie remnants in south-western Ontario. Although it is not at all related to the florist’s Baby’s Breath (which is considered a noxious weed in the prairie provinces), Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata) contributes an airy filler effect to a meadow or flower border, in a manner similar to the way florist’s Baby’s Breath fills in a bouquet. Its wispy nature is unlikely to overwhelm border companions and it is great at finding suitable space for itself in an informal meadow planting. And, yes, you can use it as a cut flower in a bouquet — what looks like petals are actually white bracts (the flowers are the tiny things in the centre) and that gives it a longer vase-life.

Prairie Baby’s Breath, aka Flowering Spurge, wants lots of sun and lean, well-drained soil. Good companions might include mid-height prairie species such as Smooth Aster, Little Bluestem Grass, Grey Goldenrod, and Butterfly Milkweed. Prairie Baby’s Breath blooms from mid-to late summer and is usually knee high, although it can become longer and floppy in moist, rich soils. It is highly deer-resistant.

By Trish Murphy

Artist: botanical, still life, and natural history illustration. Garden designer: native plants and naturalistic gardens

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