Not Just Lamb’s Ears, Big Ears!

big ears lamb's ear

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) “Big Ears” used as a ground cover.

I use Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) a great deal in full sun as a ground cover. The best variety by far is BIG EARS. This variety ¬†almost always fails to bloom (which usually causes clumps to crash) and manages to keep her fuzzy grey good looks through the summer. Heat and humidity challenge this plant, but just look: in the first photo taken today (ABOVE) you see no blooms and great foliage. In the picture below, I have removed every damaged or discolored leaf and thinned the clump to provide some air circulation.

Big Ears Lamb's Ear

“Big Ears” Lamb’s Ear with damaged or discolored leaves removed and the clump thinned to provide some air circulation.

And now we are ready for July’s challenges. My neighbor’s clumps look miserable, despite the blooms. Settle for no Lamb’s Ears but Big Ears!

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

2 thoughts on “Not Just Lamb’s Ears, Big Ears!

  1. Mike – you’re certainly on target with how to maximize this plant’s longevity in this area: thin it out regularly, especially right now! It may still crash – a nice way, I guess, to say “die” – but rarely does the entire plant (mass of plants) crash all at once. Don’t hesitate to dig up a piece or two to re-establish any bare areas. Don’t expect to find a lot of roots when you do this (you won’t), just bury the stems and remove all but the topmost 6 or so leaves. Water in well, but be stingy with watering after that, only watering sparingly if the new transplants look a little wilted in the morning. This plant is really easy to kill with too much love/water. Fun fact to stump your gardening chumps…er…friends: the correct cultivar name for “Big Ears” is ‘Countess Helen von Stein’. With all due respect to the Countess, it’s no wonder that most people opt for a shortcut.

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