Common names: Lamb’s Ears
Stachys is from the Greek word stachys meaning an ‘ear of corn’. The name comes from the resemblance of the flower spike to an ear of corn and was so named by the ancient Greeks. If you’ve ever seen the soft gray color and ear-like shape of this plant leaf, you’ll have no doubt where the common name came from.
- Height: 12” to 24”
- Sun needed: Full sun to light shade
- Bloom color: Rose, violet, pink
- Bloom time: Mid to late summer
- Planting space: 12 to 18”
- Soil preferred: Well drained and fertile
- Propagation method: Seed, division
Stachys byzantina This is a ground hugging, silver leafed plant that is easy to grow. It makes a good edging plant in the main perennial border or ground cover elsewhere. The flowers are pink and reach up to 24”; you either love them or you hate them. Few gardeners are neutral towards this plant’s flowers.
- ‘Helene von Stein’ (‘Big Ears’) has leaves that are double the size of most other varieties. It also has a tendency to flower less than other varieties making it quite attractive as a low maintenance ground cover. For those of us who think the flower on S. byzantina is ugly, this is a good form to grow.
- ‘Striped Phantom’ has a cream stripe down the center of the leaf, flowers are small and purplish pink.
Stachys macrantha (formerly S. grandiflora) 24” tall plant that grows more upright without the silver foliage of S. byzantina. It is grown for its flowers and makes an excellent border plant. One of my favorites.
- ‘Rosea’ 24” tall with rose pink.
- ‘Superba’ a deep rose pink and an excellent garden grower. One of my favorites.
Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’
Grow this plant in full sun if possible. The silvery leafed forms prefer full sun while the others will tolerate some light shade. It also grows better in moderately fertile soils with good drainage. This is not a plant for clay. Cut off the flowers immediately after blooming to encourage leaf growth.
Potions and Poisons
This plant has a long and storied use in herbal medicine. It was once the most used of all plants for general tonics, teas and problems associated with the head. It is not considered poisonous although fresh leafs are mentioned in one account as having stimulant properties. It was one of the principal ingredients in snuff – and snuff products containing it were reputed to cure headaches