|Stachys byzantina "Helene von Stein" .... it's so fuzzy!|
Stachys byzantina "Helene Von Stein", Big Ears, Lamb's Ear
- Definitely can handle wet weather as it made it through our very wet spring without any issues while sitting in amended clay soil.
- Soft and fuzzy foliage! Among the most touchable foliage of any plant I've seen. Before mass production of consumer goods, people used plants for a variety of everyday purposes. As I understand it, Lamb's Ear leaves make a good bandage and can also be used as a natural 'toilet paper'.
- The silvery color of the leaves is unusual and attractive in the garden.
- Covers the ground thickly, shading out weeds, but seems to grow at a manageable, steady pace so that I feel I could control its spread if necessary.
- Reportedly easy to propagate by division if I'd like to help it cover ground a little faster.
- Not native to the Southeastern U.S. Stachys byzantina comes from the part of Southwest Asia now known as Turkey and Iran.
- Stachys byzantina is hardy to zone 4 and probably grows in a sort of dry and mountainous climate. As such, many varieties of S. byzantina reportedly struggle in Southern heat and humidity. Helene von Stein is supposed to be the humidity-defying exception to that rule. We'll see how it fares during the upcoming summer.
- Many varieties of S. byzantina apparently send up flower spikes and then self-seed abundantly. But Helene von Stein rarely flowers, so this is less of an issue.
- Helene von Stein is supposed to be herbaceous, but the leaves don't disappear over the winter, they
- It's early days with this plant, but I'm optimistic. It would be great to have a bulletproof but not rampant groundcover for sunny spots and this plant looks like it might fit the bill.
UPDATE - I ended up removing lamb's ear from the garden. It looked beautiful from spring to autumn, but just awful in the winter. The dead foliage was persistent, so that after a while, even the fresh new foliage was growing on a mound of dead and decaying gunk underneath. In addition to the cultivar, I got the straight species, which spread much faster and had lovely flowers with a long bloom season that attracted lots of bumble bees. Unfortunately, the flowers led to a plethora of seedlings in the immediate vicinity of the mother plant. If the old foliage decayed completely over the winter and/or if the plant didn't spread so quickly, I might have kept it. It's rock solid in the heat and didn't seem to have too many problems with our humidity. But I just couldn't deal with the old foliage and its spreading ways. Plus it's a non-native. Plus I didn't like the scent of the crushed foliage when I did try to clean it up at the end of the winter. Yuck. So... I had to give it the heave-ho.