How to Grow Lamb’s Ear – (Stachys byzantina)

Remember going to the petting zoo with your kids and touching baby lambs? This the feeling of the leaves of Stachys byzantina, also known as Lamb’s Ear. If you love growing perennials, you need to give this hardy plant a try. It is easy to grow, has a lovely texture and the prettiest flowers on tall graceful stems.

Try growing lamb's ear in your garden. This plant is a variety of perennial herb with fuzzy green leaves and pretty pure purple flowers on long stalks. It is easy to grow and makes a great ground cover.

Stachys byzantina is a native to Turkey, Armenia and Iran and is also known as hedge nettle. It is actually a form of perennial herb. In Brazil it is grown and used for its medicinal properties. The name lamb’s ears comes from the shape of the leaves and the fuzziness of the coating on them, which resembles the ears of baby lambs. There are many varieties of lamb’s ear.

Tips for Growing Lamb’s Ear

I have tried lamb’s ear in several areas of my garden and have finally found the perfect spot for it. I have it located in my test garden that gets sunlight most of the day but is shaded from neighboring trees from about 4 pm onward. Here are some tips for growing this pretty perennial.Lamb's Ear - Stachys byzantina

Sunlight

Lamb’s ears does best in full sun where it will get hours and hours of sunlight daily.  My test garden gets about 10 hours of sunlight with some full sun over head for about four hours and my lamb’s ears loves the spot I have it planted it. It is a tough summer bloomer that comes into glory in the heat of summer.Flower stalks of lambs ears are long

As long as the plant gets the right amount of sunlight, and not too much water it will grow easily and spread quickly.

Watering

Stachys byzantina likes well draining soil. Too much water will result in root rot.  I originally had two clumps of the plant, one on either side of a pathway.  The left side got much more standing water and shade than the right side, and the difference in the plants is astounding.  Lamb's ear can rot from too much water.

If possible avoid getting too much water on the leaves, especially if you water in the afternoon. Once established, lamb’s ears requires little in the way of maintenance. Outdoors, it only needs extra watering when the temperatures are very high for days on end. The plant is quite drought tolerant because of its native Middle Eastern origins.

Flowers

The plant flowers in late spring and throughout the summer months. Cut back any flowering stems close to ground level after they flower to encourage new stems and leaves. The flowers start out with pale green blooms on the ends of long stems and gradually open to purple flowers.Lamb's ear flowers start on pale green stalks

The stems of the flowers are tall and erect and often branched. They can grow to 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall and make quite a show when the plant is totally in bloom.The flower buds are green and open to purple

Leaves

Children will love the texture of the leaves of Stachys byzantina.  They are velvety soft with a wooly texture and are silver gray to pale green in color. The shape resembles a lamb’s ear which is where the common name comes from. The plant tends to be evergreen but can die back and get ragged looking in the dormant months and will do well with a clean up in the spring.Leaves are fuzzy and resemble the shape of a lamb's ear

When to plant

Plant lamb’s ear in the early spring and space the plants about 2-3 feet apart so that it will have room to spread.Lamb's ears makes a wonderful ground cover. Plant it about 2-3 feet apart.

Propagation

Lamb’s ears grows readily from divisions. Every 3 or 4 years divide the plant in early spring, just as the new growth begins. The plant will benefit from a good pruning close to the crown in spring to remove dead leaves.  This will help the plant to bush out and remain more compact. Un-pruned plants can get seedy looking and thin easily as this photo shows.Unpruned patch of lamb's ears.

After division, add some organic matter to the soil and mulch around the plant to retain moisture and help with weed control. Stachys byzantina also grows easily from seed and is also self seeding.

Cold Hardiness

Lamb’s ears is cold hardy in zones 4-8. Intense heat in the warmer zones can make growing it a challenge unless you have a lot of afternoon shade in your garden.

Uses

Stachys byzantina makes a wonderful ground cover.  It is a dense, low growing plant that spreads in a garden bed if it gets the right conditions, so it works well to fill in areas of your borders to keep the weeds at bay. The purple pink flowers make great cut flowers. The color is great against the darker green colors in most borders to give nice contrasting shades.

Lamb’s ears is best planted at the front of a garden border because of its low growing habit. This large clump of lamb’s ears started early in the year with just a few divisions and filled in the area nicely by the end of the summer.Lamb's ears are great for weed control

It is also lovely in a rock garden. Good companion plants are dianthus, and day lilies. The plant also does well in containers in a pot that gets afternoon shade. It can be grown as an indoor plant, but will require quite a bit of light, so a south facing window is best. Be careful not to over water it if you grow Lamb’s ears indoors.

Wildlife

Lamb’s ear is attractive to garden visitors. Bees, and other insects such as butterflies, and hummingbirds love it.  It is not popular with deer, rabbits or squirrels.Lamb's ear flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies

Plant lamb’s ears in a sunny location and prune flowers when they are done and you will have lovely clumps of  low spreading plants for years to come.

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  2 comments for “How to Grow Lamb’s Ear – (Stachys byzantina)

  1. Peony
    06/02/2017 at 5:50 pm

    I had what a friend call lambs ear growing in my yard, only one plant and never knew where it came from since we just build a new house. So I let it grow, waiting for it to flower so I could see what it was like. Well, the flower spike started to grow, so I let it. That thing grew 3-4 (maybe taller) feet tall and was obscene – literally! Looked like a giant “you-know-what” on steroids! Dug that thing out as soon as possible! Was embarrassing. Haha!

    • Carol
      06/02/2017 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Penny. OH my gosh…thanks for the laugh. I think your plant needs a new common name! LOL Carol

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