Lamb's Ear

Like its name suggests, this perennial has soft, fuzzy leaves that feel like you're petting an adorable baby sheep.

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The leaves and stems of this plant are covered with a dense layer of tiny white hairs, making them feel silky to the touch and giving them a silvery appearance. This plant is a must for sensory garden settings, and is sure to delight children when encouraged to stroke the soft leaves. While lamb's ear is most commonly grown for its foliage, it does bloom; some varieties are grown specifically for their prolific blooms.

Lamb’s Ear Overview

Genus Name Stachys
Common Name Lamb’s Ear
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 1 to 4 feet
Flower Color Pink, Purple, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Gray/Silver
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover

Colorful Combinations

In addition to lamb's ear varieties providing so much tactile joy, the silvery foliage also serves as the perfect backdrop for many other plants. The flower stalks are generally 12-18 inches tall, with small purple, white, red, or pink blooms. The soft hairs on the leaves and stems help prevent plant moisture loss, making it exceptionally drought tolerant. Plus, the hairs help prevent damage from deer and other creatures snacking on the plant, perhaps because the animals don't enjoy the texture of the leaves.

Lamb's Ear Care Must-Knows

Lamb's ear varieties can withstand poor soil conditions and drought. One thing it will not tolerate, however, is soggy soil. This plant performs best in full-sun conditions, but it can withstand some shade. The plant will look greener in the shade because it will produce fewer dense hairs.

This plant can be a vigorous grower in the garden, even verging on invasive in some areas of the country. Lamb's ear produces creeping stems that root along the soil, creating dense mats of foliage. The roots aren't very thick, so the plants can easily be pulled up where you don't want them. However, this spreading habit makes lamb's ear a good choice for a groundcover in full sun or poor soil situations. Lamb's ear also easily seeds itself around, so removing the flower stalks before they go to seed will reduce spreading.

More Lamb's Ear Varieties

Lamb's-ears

Lamb's Ears
Stephen Cridland

Stachys byzantina has silvery, felted, 6-inch-long leaves that make a soft mat. In early summer, upright stems bloom bearing cerise-magenta flowers. It grows 18 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-8.

'Big Ears' lamb's ears

Big Ears' lamb's-ears
Denny Schrock

Stachys officinalis 'Big Ears', also sold as 'Helene von Stein', is a variety of lamb's ears named for its extra-large, fuzzy silver leaves. It seldom blooms, so requires little deadheading. Mature plants grow 8-10 inches tall. Zones 3-10

Wood betony

Purple Stachys officinalis betony
Lynn Karlin

Also called bishop's wort, wood betony (Stachys officinalis) was used by ancient healers for nearly everything from curing coughs to deworming. Today it's mainly grown to draw pollinators to the garden. The plant's attractive flowers are reddish purple and lure bees. Mature plants grow to about 2 feet tall. Zones 4-8

'Rosea' wood betony

Stachys officinalis 'Rosea' betony
Marty Baldwin

Stachys officinalis 'Rosea' is a lighter pink version of wood betony. It has the same pollinator-attracting qualities, providing a summer-long display of spires of small pink flowers above compact clumped foliage. Mature plants grow to about 2 feet tall. Zones 4-8

Big betony

Big betony Stachys macrantha
Marty Baldwin

Stachys macrantha bears purple flowers from early summer to fall on 2-foot stems. Zones 5-7

'Saharan Pink' betony

'Saharan Pink' betony
Dean Schoeppner

Stachys monieri 'Saharan Pink' is a petite version of 'Hummelo' betony with two-tone pink flowers. It grows just 1 foot tall in bloom, with a spread of about 8 inches. Deadhead spent flowers to prevent the plant from self-seeding. Zones 4-8

Lamb's Ear Companion Plants

Black-Eyed Susan

black-eyed susan blooms
Perry L. Struse

Add a pool of sunshine to the garden with a massed planting of black-eyed Susan. From midsummer, these tough native plants bloom their golden heads off in sun or light shade and mix well with other perennials, annuals, and shrubs. Tall varieties look especially appropriate among shrubs. Add black-eyed Susan to wildflower meadows or native plant gardens for a naturalized look. Average soil is sufficient, but it should hold moisture fairly well.

Daylily

Purple and yellow Daylilies
Peter Krumhardt

Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shaped blooms in numerous colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant. The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts only a single day, superior cultivars carry several buds on each scape, so bloom time is long—especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.

Garden Plans for Lamb's Ear

Design for a Moon Garden

Angel's Trumpet Garden Plan Illustration
Gill Tomblin

Nighttime is the right time to enjoy a garden of bright whites, fragrant blooms, and a comfortable seat.

Get this garden plan.

Summer Cottage Garden Plan

Summer Cottage Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Stately delphiniums are the backbone of this colorful cottage garden plan.

Get this garden plan.

Garden Plan to Soften a Fence

Garden Plan to Soften a Fence
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

The exciting plants included in this design will provide long-lasting color, fragrance, and texture that will leave you saying, "What fence?"

Get this garden plan.

Summer-Blooming Front-Yard Cottage Garden Plan

Front-Yard Cottage Garden Plan
Illustration by Helen Smythe illustrator

Create charm and curb appeal in your front yard with this lush, beautiful cottage garden plan.

Get this garden plan.

Long-Blooming Rock Garden Plan

Long-Blooming Rock Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This colorful rock garden is designed around a couple of very large boulders, but could easily be adapted to any rock garden setting.

Get this garden plan.

Fabulous Fall-Garden Plan

Fabulous Fall-Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Create a burst of fall color in your landscape with this easy-care garden plan.

Get this garden plan.

Low-Water Garden Plan

Low-Water Garden Plan
Janet Loughrey

No matter where you live, it's inevitable that plants will take defeats in the middle of July. Count on this easy-care garden to stay looking good through dry spells.

Get this garden plan.

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