Known for its fuzzy, grey-green foliage, the lamb’s ear is a fantastic perennial plant for ornamental gardens. Its dense stands may create a silver carpet of wrinkled and hairy leaves, softening the appearance of a temperate garden.
Scientifically known as Stachys byzantina, this low-maintenance plant is native to West and Central Asian regions with mild climates.
Like most plants, lamb’s ear thrives best in well drained soil and under full sun to partial shade.
A member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, its oppositely-arranged leaves have medicinal properties and are edible. Its blooms, which occur on upright spikes, are pink to purple.
In late spring to early summer, these can add wonderful color and texture to a country landscape.
What to Plant Next to Lamb’s Ears
If you’re looking for some lamb’s ear landscaping ideas, here’s what you can plant with land’s ear plants.
Roses (Rosa spp.)
Roses are some of the most stunning perennial plants due to their diverse features and eye-catching blooms. With cultivars producing just about all shades of pink and red flowers, there are short and tall varieties with potential for adding height and texture to a cottage garden.
The dark green foliage of roses complements the furry and silvery appearance of lamb’s ear leaves. These should be planted in well draining soil to encourage the production of more flower stalks and blooms.
Yarrow Plant (Achillea millefolium)
The yarrow plant is a great companion to lamb’s ear as it favors well draining soil and exposure to full sun. Though it may also survive in light shade, ample sunlight should encourage the production of colorful, white to pink flowers each spring.
Compared to the big ears of S. byzantina, the yarrow plant’s leaves are feathery, dark green, and composed of multiple leaflets. While increasing the textural complexity of your garden, provide a nice contrast to larger, simple leaves.
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
To accentuate the vivid colors of black eyed susan blooms, plant lamb’s ear right next to its moderately tall stalks. Both of these plants thrive in drought-tolerant and deer-resistant gardens with full sun exposure and well-draining soil.
Like the leaves of lamb’s ear, those of black eyed susan are covered in fine hairs. However, these are much more coarse to the touch. Borne on stout and upright stems, the leaves are perfect for adding appeal to mixed gardens.
Day Lily (Hemerocallis spp.)
Some of the best companion plants for lamb’s ear, Hemerocallis species are known for being hardy and remarkably showy. Named for the short-lived occurrence of their spring to early summer blooms, these plants are able to thrive in more moisture than many drought-tolerant species.
The daylily can be planted in just about any type of substrate that allows for good drainage. Relatively little care is required to get these perennial plants to bloom.
Silver Sage (Salvia argentea)
Incredibly useful as a landscape plant and an accent feature next to lamb’s ear, you may situate stands of silver sage in well-draining to average soil. Despite its capacity for self seeding, you may propagate it via cuttings to rapidly add soft and silvery colors to your garden.
The flower of silver sage is quite unique because its white petals arch outward and give the flower stalks the appearance of a candelabra. Once the bloom period is terminated in autumn, the plant may begin to develop its signature gray colors.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
An aromatic plant that favors well drained soil, catnip is popular all around the world as the plant that can cast a spell on cats. Its phytochemical properties, which are concentrated in its foliage, bring many benefits to a home garden. These naturally aid in eliminating pests and protecting the plant from grazers.
Plant catnip next to lamb’s ears as both of these mint plants favor the same ambient conditions. Direct sun exposure should bring out the best features of their foliage.
White stonecrop (Sedum album)
White stonecrop is a low-maintenance plant that thrives in poor soil. It can be grown next to lamb’s ear as they share many soil, water, and sun exposure preferences. Note that overhead watering can damage the succulent leaves of this species, especially if there is a lack of ventilation.
Shasta Daisies (Leucanthum x superbum)
This ground cover plant tends to produce unkept and scraggly bases, which the silvery shoots of lamb’s ears are great at hiding. Drought-tolerant, it is an aggressive grower and is perfect for creating carpets of white flowers in the home garden.
Lamb’s Ear Garden Ideas with Purple Flowers
When lamb’s ear is planted alongside other perennials with similar requirements, it can prove to be remarkably easy to grow and care for. Its best companion plants are those that likewise favor conditions in temperate regions and require very little care when provided with ample moisture.
Many of the best companion species to plant next to or in front of lamb’s ear are those that produce purple, pink, or blue flowers. These attract many pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Some of these are listed below.
Russian Sage (Salvia yangii)
Planting lamb’s ear next to Russian sage should bring out many of its best features. A low-maintenance perennial, this hardy plant can draw attention to the big, lamb’s ears of S. byzantina while flaunting its own silvery hairs under full sun. Its deer resistant foliage and purple flowers are features that many seasoned gardeners absolutely love.
With cultivars that are recipients of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, the Russian sage is drought resistant due to its lengthy taproot. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions in the garden. It tends to produce more inflorescences when it is regularly pruned and there is room for new growth.
‘Purple Sensation’ Ornamental Onion (Allium cultivar)
Lamb’s ear can grow quite well next to a variety of Allium plants. The violet flowers of this cultivar come into bloom in early spring, drawing many pollinators to the garden. Unlike the big ears of S. byzantina, this cultivar’s foliage is elongated and bluish-green.
Bugleweed (Ajuga spp.)
Bugleweeds are some of the finest lamb’s ear companion plants because their creeping shoots do a great job of stifling weed production. This is one plant that can definitely be allowed to self-propagate to create a carpeted garden. Its blue flower spikes bloom in May to June, just in time to add some late spring or early summer color.
Dwarf Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
The dwarf periwinkle is an ideal companion plant for lamb’s ear. Also known as myrtle, this species has a low-growing and sprawling habit of spreading. It can be used to fill in the gaps in lightly shaded to fully sunlit substrates with well-draining conditions. Depending on the cultivar, its spring to summer blooms can develop a variety of purple to blue hues.
Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Known for thriving in a wide range of soil conditions, the common sage is a fantastic companion for lamb’s ear. Like the latter, its leaves are also covered in soft hairs. These are borne on evergreen stalks that grow up to 2 feet tall under full sun to partial shade.
The purple to pink flowers of the common sage begin to appear in late spring to summer. These complement the appearance of their silvery green leaves and those of lamb’s ear, which have a velvety and soft texture.
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Often grown for its generous production of white to purple inflorescences, the sweet alyssum is an ideal low-growing plant to cultivate around the taller stalks of lamb’s ear. Though it can grow in a variety of substrates, it favors well drained soil. You may incorporate peat moss into its substrate to improve drainage conditions.
What Not to Plant Next to Lamb’s Ear
Essentially, plants that favor moist substrates should not be grown next to lamb’s ear. Those that would thrive next to a small pond are unlikely to become well-established in poor and dry soil conditions that do not retain moisture, so they would be bad companion plants.
Dry conditions are required by S. byzantina stands to survive, self-propagate, and bloom. The plants listed below will quickly die back in substrates that encourage the growth of lamb’s ear.
- Cardinal Flower
- Various Ferns
*image by PotatoeHead/depositphotos