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Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears)

Lamb's Ear, Lamb's Wool, Wooly Betony, Donkey's Ears, Jesus Flannel

Stachys Byzantina, Lamb's Ears, Donkey's Ears, Jesus Flannel, silver foliage perennial
Stachys Byzantina, Lamb's Ears, Donkey's Ears, Jesus Flannel, silver foliage perennial
Stachys Byzantina, Lamb's Ears, Donkey's Ears, Jesus Flannel, silver foliage perennial
Stachys Byzantina, Lamb's Ears, Donkey's Ears, Jesus Flannel, silver foliage perennial

Stachys byzantina, or Lamb’s Ear, is a cherished foliage plant known for its distinctive, soft, velvety leaves, low-growing habit, and ease of care. Its unique appearance, combined with drought tolerance and resistance to deer and rabbits, makes it a favorite among gardeners aiming to add texture and interest to their landscape.

Stachys byzantina: An In-depth Look

Lamb’s Ear is recognized for its soft, velvety leaves that resemble the ears of a lamb, giving the plant its common name. The leaves are silver-gray and form a dense mat.

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

Plant Type and Habit: This perennial plant is known for its ground-covering habit. It grows in low, sprawling clumps and is often used in gardens for its texture and foliage. It tends to be evergreen but can die back during cold winters and re-sprout from the crowns.

Size: Lamb’s Ear typically reaches about 6-8 inches in height (15-20 cm) or 12-18 inches in flower (30-45 cm), with a spread of 12-36 inches (30-90 cm).

Flowers: The plant produces small, pink to purple flowers on tall spikes that rise above the foliage. The fuzzy flowers add textural interest, but cutting them off promotes foliage growth and improves the plant’s vigor.

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

Foliage: The foliage is one of its most distinctive and appealing features. The leaves are large, soft, and velvety to the touch, resembling the ears of a lamb, which is how the plant got its common name. The foliage has a unique silver-gray or woolly-white appearance, adding a striking visual texture to the garden.

Each leaf is oval-shaped, typically growing to a length of several inches. The surface is densely covered in fine, silvery hairs, which are responsible for its soft, plush texture. This woolly covering not only contributes to the plant’s aesthetic appeal but also helps reduce water loss, contributing to its drought tolerance.

The foliage of Stachys byzantina remains attractive throughout the growing season, from spring to fall, providing year-round interest in milder climates.

Uses: Lamb’s Ear is used in gardens primarily for ground cover, borders, and rock gardens. It is also popular in children’s gardens due to its soft texture.

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

Wildlife: While not a significant attractor of wildlife, its flowers can provide nectar for bees and butterflies.

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: Lamb’s Ear can spread in favorable conditions but is usually not considered invasive.

Benefits: Its main benefits are ornamental, with its unique texture and foliage color adding interest to garden designs. Its drought tolerance also makes it a practical choice for low-water gardens.

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. Also can be grown from seed.

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" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 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 Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden, Coastal Garden, City and Courtyard
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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 byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’ (Lamb’s Ears)
Stachys palustris (Marsh Betony)
Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ (Bettony)

Recommended Companion Plants

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

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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" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 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 Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden, Coastal Garden, City and Courtyard
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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