Soft as a lamb’s ear

We all think of fragrance and color when we choose plants for our landscapes, but texture is also important.

You have before you perhaps the all-time textural triumph for Texas – the softest, most wonderful foliage your fingers will ever find. Lovely plant with names to match.

What you’ll need to know…
Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine)
Native home: Turkey, Armenia, Iran.
Hardiness Zones 4-8, so adapted to most of Texas.
Perennial to 8 to 15 inches tall.
Foliage: Hand-sized, gray-green (more gray in full sun, more green in shade).

A flower stalk is just starting to form in this lamb’s ear plant. This is the time to pinch it or trim it off. Flowers stall future leaf growth for the year.

Flowers: Inconspicuous; should actually be trimmed off just as they start to form since they stop development of new leaves.

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Lamb’s ear at its best – this is a fabulous full-sun groundcover planting growing in northwest Plano. I took the photo earlier this week.

Best landscape uses: Groundcover, clumping plantings within perennial gardens.
Soil needs: rich soils, but with good drainage.

No matter how or where you include it, lamb’s ear will be one of your family’s favorite plants.

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Water needs: Tolerate drought, but do not allow plants to wilt badly. Try to keep water off foliage, especially while sun is hitting the leaves.
Keep plants tidy by removing old leaves as they turn brown.

Note: The cultivar ‘Helene Von Stein’ is common in the nursery trade. It is grown because it holds its larger leaves better in the summer and because it is less likely to produce flower stalks that require removal by hand.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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