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How to Grow Lamb’s Ear — Stachys

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Stachys–commonly called lamb’s ears–is a small perennial evergreen most often chosen for its foliage and not its flowers. Stachys produce downy, silvery gray foliage and spikes of small usually mauve-pink flowers in summer. Stachys is a good choice for a sunny bed or path.

Stachys must be planted in well-drained soil. Plants often die out in the center; renew plants by dividing them and replanting the outer sections.

Stachys is a genus of about 300 species of annuals, mostly rhizomatous and stoloniferous perennials.

Stachys byzantina flowers in the summer garden.

Get to know Stachys

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 4-8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
  • Height and width: 12 to 25 inches (30-63cm) tall; 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) wide
  • Foliage: Basal leaves are lance-shaped or elliptic to ovate, entire to toothed to scalloped and wrinkled.
  • Flowers: Tubular, 2-lipped, often hooded flowers often born in racemes or spikes
  • Flower colors: Pink, white, or purplish blooms
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: edging near walkways and patios, children’s gardens, moonlight gardens
  • Common name: Lamb’s Ears
  • Botanical name: Stachys byzantina
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Origin: Widely distributed in Northern temperate regions

Where to plant Stachys

  • Grow Stachys in full sun with afternoon shade in hot climates.
  • Stachys grow in average to poor soil that is well drained.

Stachys uses and companions

  • Grow Stachys in a mixed or herbaceous border.
  • Stachys bizantina can be used as edging or as a ground cover.
  • Good garden companions for Stachys include Armeria maritime, Dianthus, Diascia, Linaria, Perovskia, Salvia, Sedum, Verbena.
 Lambs ear, Stachys byzantina
Lambs ear, Stachys byzantina

When to plant Stachys

  • Set Stachys in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Sow seed in spring after all danger of frost is past.

Planting and spacing Stachys

  • Space Stachys 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.

How to water and feed Stachys

  • Stachys need moderate moisture; keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid wetting leaves that must dry before the end of the day to avoid disease.
  • Stachys need no extra fertilizer when grown in moderately rich garden soil.

Stachys care

  • Mulch around Stachys to conserve soil moisture.
  • Trim heat-damaged plants as necessary.
  • Divide plants every 3 to 4 years.
  • Remove tattered leaves to make way for new growth.
  • Stachys is prone to crown and root rot in moist and humid conditions.

Stachys pests and diseases

  • Prone to powdery mildews and sometimes rust and leaf spot.
  • Stachys can be attacked by slugs and caterpillars.
Lambs ears, Stachys byzantina

Stachys propagation

  • Stachys seeds germinate in 15 to 20 days at 65° to 75°F (18°-24°C)
  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autum.
  • Divide or remove rooted sections of perennials in spring as growth begins.
  • Take greenwood cuttings in early summer.

Stachys varieties to grow

  • Stachys byzantina, lamb’s ears: dense, ground-hugging rosettes of soft thick eliptic shaped wooly white leaves; clumps spread by runners; whorls of small purple flowers in late spring; cultivar ‘Silver Carpet’ has no blooms and is a good choice for edging.
  • S. macrantha, big betony, bears long-stalked, heart-shaped, wrinkled green leaves; bears shwlly purplish pink flowers; most common is cultivar ‘Robusta’ to 2 feet tall.
  • S. officinalis, betony, is similar to S. macrantha; bears purplish or dark red flowers densed packed into short stems; culitvars include ‘Grandiflora Alba’ and ‘Grandiflora Rosea.’

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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