Stachys byzantina (STAH-kees biz-an-TEE-nah) is a herbaceous perennial that’s a furry, silvery member of the Lamiaceae or mint family.
This herbaceous perennial comes from the rocky hillsides of Iran, Turkey, and Armenia.
The plant’s genus name, Stachys, is the Greek word for “ear of corn.” This is a reference to the appearance of the plants’ flower stalks.
The specific epithet, byzantina, is also Greek, meaning “of classical Byzantine.”
You may hear it commonly referred to as:
- Lamb’s ears
- Lamb’s Wool
- Donkey’s ears
- Jesus Flannel
- Woolly hedge nettle
- Wooly Betony
This wonderful evergreen perennial plant is grown primarily for its thick, soft, velvety, silver-gray fuzzy leaves that bring interest to any border.
- Stachys Byzantina Care
- How To Propagate Woolly Hedgenettle
- Lamb's Ears Plant Main Pest or Diseases
- Suggested Woolly Hedge Nettle Uses
In this article, we will discuss how to grow and care for your Stachys byzantina at home properly.
Stachys Byzantina Care
How to Grow Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina)
Size and Growth
Lamb’s Ear is a slow-growing plant with a spreading habit and often forms a compact mound that typically spreads up to 5′ feet but only attains a height of less than one feet tall.
This plant is known for its lush, silvery gray-green foliage, which features velvety tongue-shaped leaves. This foliage forms rich rosettes and is its main attraction.
The leaves resemble the size and texture of lamb’s ears, hence its common name.
The aromatic wooly leaves may be elliptical or oblong. They can attain a length of about 3″ inches.
Because of their velvet-like texture, lamb’s ears are favored for their silvery foliage rather than flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
At bloom time Woolly Hedge Nettle features pink-purple flower spikes that bloom on erect, small-leaved flowering stems above the foliage to 10″ to 15″ inches tall in late spring or early summer.
The tiny pinkish-purple blooms dot the sides of furry corn-cob-like stalks during summer.
They are attractive to pollinators and add textural interest but tend to detract from the plant’s appearance. So most growers remove them to improve plant vigor and attractive foliage growth.
Light and Temperature
Woolly Hedge Nettle thrives in full sun to partial shade. However, it is best to grow it with some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates.
Make sure to provide at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
Also, remember to protect your plant against very harsh noonday or afternoon sun. But avoid too much shade because it can lead to disease and leaf drying.
Moreover, this rugged plant is winter hardy throughout the United States. It can tolerate cold temperatures down to zero degrees Fahrenheit.
However, it does not thrive in areas where summer temperatures exceed 100° degrees Fahrenheit. It is not fond of humid conditions.
In warm climates like zone 9, the plant remains evergreen.
Watering and Feeding
Be sure to provide your lamb’s ears plant occasional deep waterings, as it’s somewhat drought tolerant.
However, do not allow the plant to stand in water, and avoid overhead watering because it can lead to fungal leaf spots and rot.
Fertilizing Wooly Betony is neither required nor recommended. The plant does best in light, well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter.
If you incorporate a layer of compost and organic mulch with wood chips, your plants will glean plenty of nourishment to thrive.
Soil and Transplanting
The Lamb’s ear plants are not fussy regarding soil types. However, it thrives in slightly acidic, well-draining soil with dry to medium moisture.
It also does well in poor soil conditions or slightly alkaline soil. Moreover, the Woolly hedge nettle can grow excessively aggressively and spread quickly in rich soil.
You may need to add some organic matter if your soil typically retains water. You can also add a layer of mulch to counter excessively moist soil and humidity.
Potted plants will need to be divided and repotted every couple of years.
Also, ensure to provide adequate spacing when planting them because overcrowding can lead to a lack of air circulation and contribute to excessive moisture.
Grooming and Maintenance
Lamb’s ears is a low-maintenance plant, but you may wish to remove the flower stalks if you feel that they mar the plants’ appearance or if you wish to prevent the plant from spreading by seed.
You can also deadhead damaged leaves or dead leaves along with the flower stalks and blooms before the flowering season.
Removing any diseased foliage is also important because it can attract sowbugs, which can damage the plant.
Plants in the landscape may need to be divided once every two-to-four years.
How To Propagate Woolly Hedgenettle
Lamb’s Ear self propagates easily through spreading roots and stems. However, to produce more plants, simply divide mature plants. The division is also the easiest way to propagate lamb’s ear.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove the entire plant and its roots by digging with a shovel in the spring.
- Gently pull the divisions to separate them into first-sized portions. You may also use a soil knife to cut them.
- Then, plant each division in a prepared garden bed with good soil and water well.
- Don’t forget to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged or soggy.
Lamb’s Ears Plant Main Pest or Diseases
These aromatic plants are virtually pest free and resist deer and rabbits.
However, overwatering, overhead watering or excessive humidity will cause problems with fungal diseases.
Leaf diseases and root rot are also likely to develop in humid summer climates. Stunted growth and yellowing leaves are indications of root rot.
So provide well-drained soils to combat potential rot problems that often occur in humid summers.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?
Lamb’s Ear plants have many medicinal, personal care, and culinary uses.
Studies regarding toxicology are incomplete or inconclusive; however, the plant is generally considered non-toxic, safe to plant in the landscape, and recommended for planting in children’s sensory gardens.
Is the plant considered invasive?
Stachys byzantina naturalizes easily but not aggressively. It is not considered invasive, but some may consider it a weed.
Suggested Woolly Hedge Nettle Uses
These versatile plants are lovely in containers on a porch or patio due to their velvety hairy leaves that bring interest to any space.
In addition, their furry, woolly leaves are a natural addition to a sensory garden. Its silvery leaves also complement plants with cool or hot-colored blooms.
The striking silvery gray coloration of Woolly Hedge Nettle also makes them an excellent choice as an accent plant along a front walk or the front edge of a property for a curbside appeal or in rock gardens and underplanting or shrubs and roses.
This plant also works beautifully in softening hard corners and edging beds, making a lovely border accent. It also works well as a filler and ground cover.