The genus name, Stachys is Greek for “an ear of grain,” referring to the shape of the flower stalks.
Byzantina, the species name, refers to the its Middle Eastern origin.
I’ve enjoyed the grey/white accent of Lambs Ear in my flower borders for at least 22 years, especially in the spring to offset masses of green.
An eye-catcher that get lots of positive review from visitors to my gardens is especially loved bykids because of its velvety soft fuzzy texture. (Like a lamb’s ear.)
It has never tried to take over and has never been difficult to pull out. It’s easy to start a new piece should you want to move it around. Just pull up a piece with a root on it and plant it elsewhere.
Be warned there are folks who find it invasive, but I am not one of them. As with any plant, being aware of its characteristics make it easier to deal with:
*Although its a sun lover, it may not look its best when hot is combined with humid. It can wilt and go moldy, especially with a lot of rain.
*Thrives in almost any soil that is well drained.
* As the plant grows it spreads outward from the center and creates a “bald” or dead spot in the center. It can take on somewhat of a “moldy” look when this happens. I find that cutting the stalks helps these characteristics to not be so pronounced.
* Stalks with their inconspicuous pink/lavendar flowers reach 1 to 2 feet in height, but the rest of the plant is 6 to 8 inches high.
* It can reseed prolifically. (It never did for me — even before I started cutting the stalks.)
I do enjoy the stalks when they first start coming in the spring and especially love the way the bees swarm to them. But my initial joy is short lived. I cut them to the ground to insure the plant maintains a neater, fuller look. (I attend to this casually when I happen to be in the area doing something else.)
At one time I considered getting a large leafed variety named “Helen von Stein” that does not send up stalks and stays in a neat clump. After learning how to make mine do almost the same thing, I never ordered.
Of interest to organic rose growers might be the fact that Lambs Ear is a host plant for the Mealybug Destroyer which also preys on thrips. Thrips are a common pest problem for rose growers and having a natural predator close by would be beneficial.
Interesting that the genus of Lambs Ear was long ago used for bandages — obviously because of it’s softness. Additional benefit was derived from other species of the genus that have antiseptic properties. The liquid from their leaves would seep into the wounds from the applied leaf-bandage helping to heal cuts, burns, scrapes and boils.
If you have kids or grand-kids they will delight in Lamb’s Ear. Give it a try. It’s a nice perennial.
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