I am sure you know some families in which the children don’t look like siblings. Sometimes, plant families are like that, too. Take the genus Stachys, for example. Lamb’s ears, as many of the family members are commonly called, are known for their silvery gray leaves that are as soft as, well, a lamb’s ear. They are often planted in perennial borders for foliage contrast and in children’s gardens to be stroked by inquisitive fingers.
Growing to the beat of its own drum, Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ looks nothing like other lamb’s ears. Instead of the family’s characteristic soft gray leaves, it has glossy and crinkled, long and narrow, dark green foliage that grows in mounds up to a foot tall and a bit wider. In my garden, plants are slowly spreading to form a dense, weed-choking mat.
Unlike typical lamb’s ears grown primarily for their foliage, grow Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ for its showy flowers. From the end of June to early September, 18 to 24-inch leafless stems rise from the basal foliage, boasting spikes of reddish-purple flowers that resemble those of salvias. Deadhead flowers to keep plants looking their best and to prevent plants from diverting energy to form seeds at the expense of the foliage.
Grow Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ in moist, but well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Although it prefers consistently moist soil, it is drought tolerant in my garden. It is rarely bothered by diseases, and deer and rabbits leave it alone.
I love this little perennial. It is the perfect front of the border plant; it is spectacular when it’s blooming; and it is not fussy. Do you already grow it? If not, head out to your local garden center and pick up a few. I am sure you will love it, too. Garden with me!