Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears' Lamb's Ear
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Too much shade, however, may impede leaf drying and promote the onset of disease. The woolly leaves of this plant tend to trap moisture, and in humid climates such as the St. Louis area, plant leaves are susceptible to attack from rot and leaf spot where too much moisture is present. Plants are generally drought tolerant. Avoid overwatering. If mid-summer foliage decline occurs, pick off damaged leaves as needed. Spreads by creeping stems that root as they go along the ground and can be mildly aggressive in rich soils. Site starter plants 12-18” apart for use as a ground cover. Divide when necessary. Flowers are not particularly showy, and many gardeners prefer to remove the flowering stems as they appear to enhance the ground cover effect.
Stachys byzantina, known as lamb's ears, is grown primarily for its thick, soft, velvety, silver-gray leaves which typically form a rapidly spreading mat approximately 4-6" off the ground. Leaves are evergreen in warm climates, but will depreciate considerably in harsh winters. Erect, small-leaved flowering stems with terminal spikes of insignificant, tiny, purplish-pink flowers appear in summer rising above the foliage to 10-15" tall. Many gardeners remove the flowering stems to enhance the ground cover effect. Dense rosettes of woolly, tongue-shaped, gray-green leaves (to 4" long) spread by runners. Leaf shape and texture resemble a lamb's ear, hence the common name.
Genus name comes from the Greek stacys meaning ear of corn in probable reference to the inflorescence of a related plant.
Specific epithet means of classical Byzantium (Istanbul, Turkey).
'Big Ears' is noted for its silver-green foliage which forms an attractive ground cover. Dense rosettes of thick, soft, velvety, silver-green leaves (to 8" long) form a mat approximately 8" off the ground. Flowering stems are rare. Leaf shape and texture resemble a lamb's ear, hence the common name. Leaves are evergreen in warm climates, but will depreciate considerably in harsh winters. This cultivar is synonymous with 'Helene von Stein'.
Tends to rot and develop leaf diseases in humid summer climates. Well-drained soils are essential in order to combat potential rot problems which often occur in humid St. Louis summers. Even with well-drained soils, some summer die-out may occur where high humidity and/or moisture on foliage is present. Can spread aggressively.
'Big Ears' has better resistance to problems than the species and many other cultivars thereunder, and is a good selection for the St. Louis area.
Foliage provides interesting texture and color to the border or rock garden. Effective edger or small area ground cover.
Information Courtesy of www.missouribotanicalgarden.org
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