It is native to Northern Turkey, the Southern Caucasus Mountain region and Southern Iran where it grows on rocky hills and scrub areas. In other words, it is a weed. Which is exactly the quality it makes apparent in a rational planned garden. Like many weeds we adopt, it does its own thing.
Latin name: Stachys byzantina – synonym Stachys olympica
In late spring or early summer, the plants send up furry, silver stalks of small lilac pink flowers on spikes to about 2 feet high. The somewhat fragrant flowers are not very showy, and often removed to maintain and enhance the foliage effects of the plant, which always looks fresh and cool. Bees love the flowers.
Plant in full sun to light shade in well drained soil. Lamb’s Ear adapts to most soil types well. The plant will thrive in any hot, dry location. Space new container grown plants 12″ – 24″ apart. Lamb’s Ear is fairly drought tolerant. Lightly cut back plants after flowering to keep a compact shape.
Seed can be started in a cold frame or greenhouse in early spring and moved outdoors after danger of frost has passed. For quicker growth… purchase pre-started plants at your local Garden Center. Once established plants can be divided in spring as soon as growth begins.
These perennials are known for two prominent features: their silvery color and the velvety feel of their leaves. Note the latter especially. For while newbies to landscape design may overlook it, we veteran plant lovers pay attention to how plants feel to the touch. And why not? A certain earthiness defines us. You can almost judge people’s commitment to plants based on how many of their senses are satisfied by the plants in their yards.
Lamb’s Ear forms a soft groundcover and cushion for spring bulbs and summer flowers, and makes a great combination plant in the perennial garden. The plants can spread moderately quickly, so be prepared to divide as necessary. They grow outward from the center and can leave a nice bare spot in the middle. This usually starts happening after they finish blooming.