Saturday, June 03, 2006

How Does Your Lamb's Ear Grow?

Lamb’s ear, like hosta, are grown primarily for their foliage. However, again like hosta, the issue of whether to allow them to flower or not is hotly contested among gardeners. One side believes that the ungainly flowers distract from the tidy appearance of the foliage. The other side enjoys the flowers for their odd beauty and attractiveness to bees. How do I prefer my lamb’s ear? Well, it depends.

In a rockery, where the plants are generally low growing, I agree that the tall flower spikes are unattractive. Stachys’ mat of silvery green leaves is its primary attraction in a rock garden. However, among taller perennials, like the pictured grouping with east friesland sage, the flowers blend well with their neighbors. It’s all in the context.

I can’t claim to have come to my decision to allow my lamb's ear to flower in any sort of a logical, preplanned way. I don’t cut the flower stalks off because I’m simply too soft-hearted. It seems almost cruel to whack off the long flower stalks. I just got lucky in that the result looks nice too. If I had a rockery, I suppose I’d clip, but it would break my heart.


Blogger OldRoses said...

I love the flowers on my lambs ear. I would never cut the stalks off because I think they're pretty.

9:08 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

I love it when my hostas flower. I went to a friend's wedding shower last summer, and her sister (a local florist) had made all of the table arrangements out of hosta leaves, light purple hosta flowers, and interesting other green, white, and purple things she'd found around the garden. They were stunning! If they make flowers, by all means, let them live!

8:30 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I usually cut the stalks on the lamb's ears I have by the front door, because my son has this thing about bees. But I have a big clump in the backyard right now and I let them flower.

I find it clumps better if you leave the flowers. They get thinner a lot faster if you cut them. (Well, mine do.)

3:41 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I have trouble even pinching back! I never cut the flower stalks off my hostas - they are part of the glory of the hosta!

I love this combo. It is very striking.

5:42 AM  
Anonymous lorelei diamond said...

Help....early this week my
plants were a wonderful soft
blue green now half of the leaves
are yellow and tan..Whats going
rye brook ny zone 5

7:56 AM  

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