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Lamb's Ears - Growing These Soft, Fuzzy Garden Favorites

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Lamb's Ear Blossoms

Lamb's Ear Blossoms

Marie Iannotti

Overview:

Lamb's Ears is a low growing spreader with very fuzzy, pale, silvery gray-green foliage. They are grown primarily for the color and texture of their foliage, although the species does have flower spikes early in the season. Lamb's Ears are often recommended for children's gardens because of their soft feel.

A Word of Caution: Lamb's Ear can be invasive in warmer climates and very hard to eradicate. Check with your local DEC or Cooperative Extension before planting.

Latin Name:

Stachys byzantina

Common Name Lamb's Ears

Zones:

4 - 10 Will require more shade in higher zones.

Size:

Height - 6 - 8" (12 -18" in flower), Width: 12"

Exposure:

Full Sun / Partial Shade

Bloom Period:

Late Spring into Early Summer

Description:

With fuzzy, silvery green, soft as suede leaves, Lamb's Ears are favored for their foliage, rather than their flowers. They flower on tall spikes in shades of pinkish purple or white, in the late spring or early summer. Some gardeners's find the flower spikes charming and others cut them off to encourage the foliage, as with Hosta. Bees are not so fussy and love the slightly fragrant flowers.

Design Tips:

Don't try to use Lamb's Ears as a specimen plant. They look best either as a rambling ground cover or as soft edging. As an edger, they will need to be kept within bounds. Besides spreading by roots, Lamb's Ears can self-seed profusely. The silvery foliage makes a nice complement to purple flowering plants.

Suggested Varieties:

S. byzantina 'Silver Carpet' Does not bloom
S. byzantina 'Helen von Stein' Doesn’t not bloom and is a slightly larger plant (Height: 10" and Width: 18-24"). Also call 'Big Lamb's Ears.

Cultural Notes:

Lamb's Ears are extremely easy to grow. Their only caveat is their need for well-drained soil. Otherwise they are very difficult to kill.

Maintenance: Aside from deadheading, Lamb's Ears require very little maintenance. The lower foliage can become brown and tattered looking later in the season and will look better with some clean up. Because the leaves sit so close to the ground, rotting can be a problem. Mulching under the plants helps to keep the leaves dry and be sure to give them well-drained soil. Other water related problems include powdery mildew and slug damage.

Lamb's Ears spreading nature and their tendency to grow from the center out, leaving a dead spot in the middle, makes them candidates for frequent (2-4 years) division. However they divide and transplant very easily. There are newer varieties on the market that do not flower. These non-flowering types also tend to be slower growers.

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