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Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’ (Lamb’s Ears)

Lamb's Ear 'Helen von Stein', Lamb's Wool 'Helen von Stein', Wooly Betony 'Helen von Stein', Donkey's Ears 'Helen von Stein', Jesus Flannel 'Helen von Stein', Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears', Stachys byzantina 'Countess Helen von Stein'

Stachys Byzantina 'Helen von Stein', Lamb's Ears 'Helen von Stein', Donkey's Ears 'Helen von Stein', silver foliage perennial
Stachys Byzantina 'Helen von Stein', Lamb's Ears 'Helen von Stein', Donkey's Ears 'Helen von Stein', silver foliage perennial

Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’, often known as ‘Big Ears’, is a cultivar of Lamb’s Ear cherished for its ornamental qualities and garden performance.

Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’: An In-depth Look

‘Helen von Stein’ is celebrated for its oversized, velvety, silver-gray leaves, which are larger than the typical Lamb’s Ear. The leaves of this foliage plant have a soft, woolly texture, making it a favorite in tactile gardens.

Native: Stachys byzantina is native to the Middle East, specifically to regions in Turkey, Armenia, and Iran.

Plant Type and Habit: This cultivar is a perennial ground cover known for its spreading habit. It forms a dense, low mat of foliage, making it an excellent choice for covering large areas. It tends to be evergreen but can die back during cold winters and re-sprout from the crowns.

Size: ‘Helen von Stein’ grows to about 6-12 inches in height (15-30 cm) and can spread 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) or more, with its large leaves providing significant ground coverage.

Flowers: Unlike the species, ‘Helen von Stein’ seldom produces flowers. When it does, the flowers are small and not particularly showy.

Bloom Time: Flowering occurs in late spring or early summer.

Foliage: The foliage is notable for its large, striking appearance. The leaves are significantly larger than those of the standard Lamb’s Ear, growing up to a foot long (30 cm), making this cultivar particularly distinctive. They are characterized by a soft, velvety texture and a silver-gray color, which adds a unique tactile and visual element to garden designs.

Each leaf is broad, oval to round in shape, and covered in fine, woolly hairs. This dense, fuzzy coating not only gives the leaves their characteristic softness but also contributes to the plant’s drought tolerance by minimizing water loss. The large size of the leaves makes ‘Helen von Stein’ an excellent ground cover, as they spread out to form a dense mat that effectively suppresses weeds and covers the ground.

The lush foliage of ‘Helen von Stein’ remains attractive throughout the growing season, from spring through fall, and even into the winter in milder climates.

Uses: Ideal for ground cover, borders, rock gardens, and sensory gardens. Its large leaves can suppress weeds effectively.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 4-8, showing a good range of cold tolerance.

Wildlife: The plant is not a significant attractor of wildlife but may offer some shelter to small garden creatures.

Toxicity: Lamb’s Ear is not known to be toxic to humans or pets.

Deer and Rabbit: It is generally resistant to deer and rabbits, thanks to its fuzzy leaves.

Drought: Once established, it is quite drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for xeriscaping.

Invasiveness: This cultivar is not considered invasive and typically grows within its planting area without aggressive spreading.

Benefits: Its primary benefits are ornamental, offering a unique texture and ground coverage in the garden. Its drought tolerance also makes it suitable for xeriscaping.

Lamb’s Ear Growing Tips

Light: Prefers full sun to partial shade. Full sun encourages denser foliage growth and better overall health.

Soil: Thrives in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. It tolerates a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils with good drainage.

Water: Once established, Stachys byzantina is drought-tolerant. Water regularly until the plant is established, then reduce frequency. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilizer: Requires no fertilization since it prefers soil that is not rich. If necessary, apply a light layer of compost or a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring.

Pruning: Trim back the flower stalks after blooming to maintain a tidy appearance. Remove any damaged or spent foliage to encourage new growth.

Propagation: Easily propagated by dividing the clumps in spring or fall.

Pests and Diseases: Generally pest-resistant. Watch out for slugs and snails. Overly moist conditions can lead to root rot or fungal diseases. Good air circulation and proper spacing can help prevent these issues.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Lamiaceae
Genus Stachys
Common names Lamb's Ear
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 12" - 24"
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Semi-Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Edging, Ground Covers, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ (Lamb’s Ears)
Stachys byzantina ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’ (Lamb’s Ears)
Stachys byzantina ‘Silky Fleece’ (Lamb’s Ears)
Stachys palustris (Marsh Betony)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears)
Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ (Bettony)

Recommended Companion Plants

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
Achillea (Yarrow)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Salvia (Sage)
Allium (Ornamental Onion)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Lamiaceae
Genus Stachys
Common names Lamb's Ear
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 12" - 24"
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Semi-Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Edging, Ground Covers, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Stachys
Guides with
Stachys
Not sure which Stachys to pick?
Compare Now

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