Stachys byzantina K.Koch is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Lambs Ear. It was named and described by Karl Heinrich Emil Koch in Linnaea in 1849.
Plants of the World Online currently lists 364 accepted species in the Stachys genera of which 7 are infraspecific names (hybrids). The 2013 version of The Plant List named 375 accepted genera plus another 46 accepted infraspecific names. There were a total of 870 synonyms and 77 still unresolved. Plants of the World Online by Kew was launched in 2017 and is still uploading data. So, the difference in the numbers of accepted species means progress has been made or POWO doesn’t have them all listed yet. Time will tell.
I bought my first Lambs Ear from Bluestone Perennials when I first moved to the farm after my grandfather passed away in 1981. They grew very well and made a HUGE clump by the time I moved in 1987. My second was in 2009 when I bought a pot from Lowe’s when I was living at the mansion in Leland. It didn’t last very long which is why I only have one photo of it.
Then, after I moved back to the family farm in 2013, good friends of mine gave me a couple of plants they had bought from a local garden clubs plant sale. Well, that wasn’t actually the way it was… I went to their house to take them eggs and “she” was home but “he” was working. “She” gave me the two pots of Lambs Ears “he” and brought home for “her” from the plant sale. “She” found out they could be invasive and didn’t really want them for that reason. So, “she” gave them to me. I would use their names, but I’m not sure they would like that…
Origin: Parts of Turkey, Iran, and the Caucasus
Zones: USDA Zones 4a-8b (-30 to 35° F)
Size: 12-18” or so, taller in flower
Light: Sun to light shade
Water: Average water needs. Somewhat drought tolerant once established. DO NOT overwater…
I put the two Lambs Ears in the bed on the south side of the house after I had it ready. Now, since this was my first year back to the farm since 1987 I had to get used to gardening here again. The other problem was that my parents had moved in a manufactured home and put a couple of Crap Myrtle bushes on the south side of the house with very tall cannas in the middle. The Crap Myrtle were descendants of the ones I had cut down in the early 1980’s and it was like they came back to haunt me.
I always liked the Stachys byzantina for their soft, silver-white, fuzzy leaves. While they are considered invasive for some, I certainly have not had that problem. A little more would be better. They also self-sow, but mine have not even done that. Maybe I should leave more flowers on one of the clumps to see what happens.
The Lamb’s Ears are always one of the first plants to come back in the spring. This plant is fairly frost tolerant up to a point. In many parts of it’s recommended zones, this plant will be evergreen. In others, the plant will die back and emerge when it warms up in the spring, or even on warmer days during the winter. It is nothing to see this plant start to regrow in January if there are enough warm days.
Sometimes the lower leaves will turn brown and should be removed. This can be caused from aging or from the ground being wet under the plant causing their leaves to rot. Applying a mulch under and around the plant will help.
To grow this plant successfully you need very well-draining soil. They DO NOT like wet soil and will sure rot if the soil stays to damp for too long.
They really like the sun but they also do OK in lightly shaded areas. The main problem with them being in too much shade is not necessarily the light, but mainly how fast moisture dries from their leaves after a rain or watering. To much moisture on their leaves can lead to rotting or brown spots.
Many consider the flowers of the Lamb’s Ears not to be that showy. You need to take a closer look. This is a very complex plant! Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love this plant!
The Stachys byzantina is a very drought tolerant plant but does appreciate regular watering during hot summer months.
While many people love this plant for its nice, fuzzy leaves, few realize it’s other benefits. Believe it or not, these plants leaves were once used on battlefields for dressing wounds. Not only do the leaves soak up blood and help it clot faster, they have antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Leaves boiled in water can be used to make an infusion to treat pinkeye and styes. Tea made from this plant can be used to help treat fevers, diarrhea, sore mouth, internal bleeding, bee stings, and so on.
You can even eat the leaves in a salad or steam them. Hmmm… I should give that a try…
The above photo was taken on January 12. The early part of January was very cold, dipping down to -10 degrees F a few times. Here the division I moved in the southeast corner bed is enjoying a few warm days.
Normally I leave the dead leaves and stems on my perennials until new growth appears in the spring. Last fall I cleaned off the south bed, removing most plants dead leaves and stems. The older and largest clump of the Lamb’s Ears almost completely died out maybe because I had removed the dead leaves and stems instead of leaving them until spring. It was a good thing I had put a couple of divisions in other areas or I may have lost this plant.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.