Ginseng Plant

Planning a children’s garden or one for the senses? Try Stachys byzantina, lamb’s ears, aka woolly betony, so-called due to its relationship with S. macrantha (big betony) and S. Officinalis (wood betony.) regardless of what the name, lamb’s ears are plants people like to touch.

All stachys are a part of the Labiatae , with square stems, opposite leaves and a spreading habit. However, lamb’s ears don’t spread like culinary mint. Leaves are oval and pointed with soft felt sort of a lamb’s. Lamb’s ears are perennial in Zones 4-8 of the U.S.

How to Use Lamb’s Ear

Like many silvery plants, they’re extremely drought tolerant. Perfect for rock gardens or a dry spot of average soil during a garden bed, lamb’s ears are easy plants to grow. The leaves quickly form a soft mat of rosettes. They were also once used as bandages and are reportedly helpful in relieving the pain of bee stings.

Stachys byzantina, lamb’s ears, make an excellent border plant.

Evergreen in warm climates, leaves shrivel and die in colder winters. However, the plant doesn’t die unless planted during a boggy area. Remove desiccated foliage as new leaves emerge in spring.

Lamb’s ears make a beautiful edging for beds and are wonderful planted where people can walk and touch their foliage. Silvery leaves look great with bright purple or pink flowers and also blend with light pink blooms. They hide the knobby and unattractive canes of roses and soften other shrubs.

Of all the child-friendly plants within the garden, children seem most interested in the soft woolly foliage of lamb’s ears. Grow it as a brief and attractive border for a garden dedicated to children or to your own sense of touch. With easy care silvery foliage, this perennial may be a must.

How to Grow Lamb’s Ear

Growing lamb’s ears is straightforward . Here are seven steps:

  • Plant 4-inch pots 18 to 24 inches apart in partial shade to full sun. Keep watered while plants get established.
  • Grow in well-drained soil enriched with compost, but no additional fertilizer. Lamb’s ears don’t like rich soil. Evenly moist to dry soil is ok.
  • Don’t water plants with overhead sprinklers, and do prune for overcrowding in summer to stop the rot. Where summers are humid, plants will rot call at the middle.
  • Divide in spring every three to four years if needed, or just remove the dead centers in foliage to take care of clumps.
  • Remove flowers before they set seed to assist leaves to recover, and stay soft and green.
  • Remove rotted or dried foliage to stop the disease from spreading.
  • Sowbugs are interested in diseased foliage. Removing decayed leaves throughout the season will help discourage them.

Lamb’s Ear Cultivars

The cultivar ‘Big Ears’, aka ‘Helen von Stein’, is noteworthy due to its larger leaves (4 inches across and up to 10 inches long!) and therefore the lack of flowers. It grows 8 to 10 inches tall. it’s more immune to disease and performs well in hot southern gardens.

13 Low-Growing Perennial Groundcovers 14 Photos

Need help covering bald spots in your yard or keeping down weeds in your garden? These hardy, easy-to-maintain plants — including lamb’s ear — could also be the solution to your landscaping woes.

The Chicago Botanic Garden performed a comparative study of various cultivated stachys where they tested several cultivars including ‘Big Ears,’ ‘Wave Hill,’ ‘Cotton Boll,’ ‘Primrose Heron’ and ‘Silver Carpet.’ They noted that ‘Cotton Boll’ did indeed have flower clusters resembling cotton.

S. byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ and ‘Big Ears’ are considered nonflowering forms which don’t need deadheading. However, ‘Big Ears’ does sometimes form a couple of flower spikes in my garden. I remove these to encourage more leaves.

‘Silver Carpet’ is a superb selection that doesn’t produce flowers yet has attractive silvery foliage that creates an active groundcover. It reaches only about 6 inches. It’s native to the the center East and grows well in U.S. Zones 4 to eight .

Big betony (S. macrantha) is valued for its profuse flowers and blooms in late spring. This cultivear grows best in cooler climates and isn’t used quite as extensively throughout the country as S. byzantina. Big betony tolerates light shade and appears best planted en bloc .

‘Robusta’ is understood for its rose-pink flowers that make it a knock-out within the garden. It reaches 2 feet tall. It’s native to the center East and is hardy in U.S. Zones 2 to eight.

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