Lamb’s Ear – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Flower Glossary

I. What is Lamb’s Ear?

Lamb’s Ear, also known as Stachys byzantina, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Turkey, Armenia, and Iran. It belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae, and is known for its soft, velvety leaves that resemble the ears of a lamb, hence its common name. Lamb’s Ear is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes due to its unique texture and appearance.

II. What are the characteristics of Lamb’s Ear?

Lamb’s Ear is characterized by its silvery-green leaves that are covered in fine hairs, giving them a soft and velvety texture. The leaves are oval-shaped and grow in rosettes, forming a dense mat of foliage. In the summer, Lamb’s Ear produces small, pink to purple flowers on tall spikes that rise above the foliage. The flowers are not the main attraction of this plant, as it is primarily grown for its foliage.

III. How to grow Lamb’s Ear?

Lamb’s Ear is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow in a variety of soil types and conditions. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade. To plant Lamb’s Ear, dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball and place the plant in the hole, covering the roots with soil. Water the plant thoroughly after planting and continue to water regularly until it becomes established.

Lamb’s Ear can also be propagated by division in the spring or fall. Simply dig up the plant and separate the clumps into smaller sections, making sure each section has roots attached. Replant the divisions in a new location and water well.

IV. What are the common uses of Lamb’s Ear?

Lamb’s Ear has a variety of uses in the garden and landscape. Its soft, velvety leaves make it a popular choice for ground cover, as it forms a dense mat that suppresses weeds and helps retain moisture in the soil. Lamb’s Ear is also used in rock gardens, borders, and as a filler plant in mixed perennial beds.

In addition to its ornamental uses, Lamb’s Ear has some practical applications as well. The leaves of the plant have been used for centuries in herbal medicine for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to make poultices for wounds, burns, and insect bites.

V. How to care for Lamb’s Ear?

Lamb’s Ear is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established. Water the plant regularly, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as Lamb’s Ear is susceptible to root rot in waterlogged soil.

In the spring, apply a layer of compost or organic fertilizer around the base of the plant to provide nutrients for healthy growth. Prune back any dead or damaged foliage in the fall to tidy up the plant and encourage new growth in the spring.

VI. What are some common varieties of Lamb’s Ear?

There are several popular varieties of Lamb’s Ear that offer different leaf colors and sizes. Some common varieties include:

1. Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ – This variety has silvery-green leaves and a compact, spreading habit. It is ideal for ground cover or edging in the garden.

2. Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’ – This variety has larger leaves than the species and a more upright growth habit. It is a striking focal point in the garden.

3. Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ – This variety has larger, thicker leaves than the species, giving it a more substantial appearance. It is a bold choice for mixed perennial beds or containers.

Overall, Lamb’s Ear is a versatile and attractive plant that adds texture and interest to any garden or landscape. With its soft, velvety leaves and easy care requirements, it is a popular choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners alike.