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Description

Lamb's ear has a good name; it is a low growing perennial with distinctive fuzzy foliage character like lamb ears. Plants reach 6-12 in. tall and can spread 2-3 ft. and more with surface runners. Gray leaves grow to 4 in. long and are soft, thick and covered with silvery hairs that have a woolly texture. Attractive flower stalks develop in late spring to early summer and contain numerous whorls of small purple flowers.

Lambs ear is native to Turkey, Armenia and Iran, and is adaptable to both heat and cold. It has been grown for many years in California as a perennial in warm climate zones and is easily established in Inland Empire gardens. It requires well-drained soils and grows best with regular moisture and in sunny locations. Wet leaves are subject to rot in humid climate zones and shady areas. Lamb's ear is commonly planted along borders, around paving stones and in perennial gardens where it provides unique foliage character and color contrast with other plants.

Water Needs

Lamb's ear grows best in sunny locations on well drained soils and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; too much water in summer without good drainage can lead to root rot.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 3

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 9"-16"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

 
0"-3"
0"-3"
0"-3"
2"-3"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
2"-3"
0"-3"
0"-3"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Spreading
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 6 in. - 12 in.
Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Foliage Color: Gray green
Flower Color: Purple
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Cold hardy, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Residential spaces, Raised planters, Hummingbird plant, Grouped, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Commercial spaces, Borders, Attracts butterflies

Maintenance

This is usually a short lived plant in southern California gardens. After looking healthy for a while in the garden, older leaves begin to turn brown. Plants are also troubled by snails and slugs. Remove brown or browning leaves as needed by pulling or clipping them. Also prune out dead flower stalks as needed. Some gardeners like to grow this plant for the silvery soft leaves, and love it as a plant for children to touch. If you feel compelled to grow it, consider growing in a pot, where it can function as an accent and be easily replaced when necessary (S,D).

References

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