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Stachys (STAY-kiss)

Common Name:  Betony, lamb's ear

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to rich, sandy, well-drained loam

Moisture:  Slightly dry

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  varies by type


Stachys 'Helene von Stein'

Stachys m. 'Humello'

Stachys Description and Cultural Information

Stachys byzantina, lamb's ear. 6 - 15". Lamb's ear is probably the most well known in the species. It has gray-green, hairy foliage and tall flower stalks with tiny purple flowers in early summer. 'Silver Carpet' has larger woolly leaves and rarely flowers. 'Helen von Stein', aka 'Big Ear's is similar to 'Silver Carpet' but with larger leaves and it is more tolerant of heat and humidity. Zones 4 - 7.

Stachys macrantha (aka S. grandiflora), big betony. 12 - 18". This species has dark green, heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and erect stems with rosy-mauve flowers. 'Robusta' grows to 2' and is more robust than the species. Zones 2 - 7.

Stachys monieri, alpine betony. 18 - 24". Alpine betony forms a tight clump of oval, crinkled green foliage at the base and has many purplish-pink flowers in the summer. 'Humello' is a nice lavender-rose selection. Zones 4 - 8.

Stachys officinalis, wood betony. 18 - 24". This species is very similar to S. macrantha. It has oval, downy, green foliage at the base and flower stalks with dense clusters of violet-pink flowers. 'Rosea' has soft rose-pink flowers. 'Alba' has white flowers. Zones 4 - 8.

How to Grow:  Lamb's ear and betony can be grown in almost any well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade so long as it isn't excessively moist. Lamb's ear is best grown in full sun but does not perform well in areas with high heat and humidity. In addition, lamb's ear will rot during very wet summers and need to be dry over the winter for best success. If rot does occur, cut plants back and clean up all affected foliage and new foliage should sprout back after it dries out. The blooming lamb's ear can spread quite a bit and many varieties self-seed, often becoming weedy. Cut back flower stalks as soon as the flowers start to fade to prevent unwanted seedlings. Divide plants in the fall or as needed to control their spread.

Landscape uses:  Combine betony with other drought tolerant, summer blooming perennials such as Salvia, hardy geranium, Veronica, shasta daisies, purple coneflowers, and yarrow. Lamb's ear works good as an edging plant, especially when the flower stalks are cut back.

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