Lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) is an herbaceous perennial valued for its attractive foliage and low maintenance requirements. The plant produces leaves visually similar to actual lamb's ears, hence the common name. Lamb's ear blooms during late spring, producing a small number of inconspicuous purple flowers and sliver-blue, fuzzy foliage, the plant's primary ornamental feature. Native to the Middle East, lamb's ear thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8 and is useful as a ground cover or addition to a perennial border.
Plant lamb's ear in a location that consists of well-drained, fertile soil and receives full sunlight throughout the day. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic compost over the planting site, and dig it in to amend the soil prior to planting. Space lamb's ears 12 to 15 inches apart.
Remove all weeds that grow near the plant during the first season of active growth to eliminate competition until the root system is established. Dig up the weeds to avoid damaging the plant's roots.
Water once per week during spring, summer and fall to keep the soil moist at all times. Increase the frequency of watering during periods of drought or extreme heat to once every five days. Do not water during winter, when active growth has ceased. Soak the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches at each watering.
Feed lamb's ear once per month during the active growing season using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water lightly, soaking the soil to a depth of at least 1 inch, just before applying, to prevent root burn. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer for proper dosage.
Prune lamb's ear plants during mid-summer to remove spent flower spikes and damaged foliage. Pinch off undesirable growth at its point of origin to ease the regrowth process. Do not remove more than one-third of the plant's growth during any single pruning.
Things You Will Need
- Organic compost
- Garden spade
- Apply water directly to the soil, as moist leaves are more vulnerable to pests and fungal diseases.
- Lamb's ear does not tolerate being walked on. Plant in a location with minimal foot traffic to prevent damage.
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