Stachys Byzantina more commonly known as Lambs Ear, Rabbits Ear, or sometimes woolly nettle is a popular perennial found in many grand herbaceous borders around Britain where it is cultivated. It originates from countries at the Eastern edges of the European Caucasus such as Armenia through to Turkey and on to Middle Eastern Countries like Iran There are quite a number of different cultivars and varieties of Stachys.
Its Silver grey green leaves remain throughout the year and are a soft furry velvet like to the touch, hence its common lambs ear name. Whilst the leaves do last fairly well through the winter they are not truly evergreen and will certainly not withstand heavy frosting or snow. New leaves always emerge in the Spring to replace the old.
Lambs ear has a dense ground covering habit and can spread quite quickly during the growing season. It is and ideal weed suppressant or ground cover plant and is particularly effective softening the edge of a terrace. It is best planted in the Spring in well drained loamy soil but will tolerate poorer positions. It prefers to be in full sun but will grow fairly happily in partial shade.
Lambs ear is mostly grown and planted for its silvery green leaves which are valued because of the great contrast they make to other plants in a border. However Stachys Byzantina does produce small pinkish flowers on tall felt covered stocky stems (60cm/ 24inch/2 feet tall) from early summer. They are a great favourite of Bees. Note: some choices of Stachys Byzantina flower more rarely than others
After a few seasons the original plant will probably need to divided as dead patches can appear and is best done in Spring. Lambs Ear also self seeds from the flower heads so it is not unusual to find a few volunteers springing up in your border. Remove brown dead leaves periodically especially in Autumn to prevent rot and cut back flower stems to their base when finished.
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