I had some lamb’s ear in a flower arrangement that I brought to school, and the P.E. teacher was admiring it, feeling the soft, fuzzy leaves. I told her it was really easy to grow, and that i could give her a division if she wanted. She was agreeable, then she got suspicious look in her eye- “does it spread? I mean, in a couple years, am I going to be like, gah! lamb’s ear!” Well, not really. Maybe kind of. It does spread, but not in a bad way. It is a member of the mint family, but I haven’t had to contain it the way I have the other mints that have taken over my yard.
Lamb’s ear is formally known as Stachys Byzantina, and is originally from the middle east- it does great with very little water- the fuzzy leaves on it evolved to reflect light and collect dew. I can see it flailing in places with heavy rain and humidity, but in my yard it is perfect in my xeric bed, where I don’t water but once or twice a year. It grows about knee high, blooming just after the iris has finished.
The thing that prevents it from being seriously weedy is that it doesn’t spread from seed- it flops over, and where the stem touches the ground it can strike roots, but it doesn’t spew seeds.
The fuzzy leaves make it great for children’s gardens- I first planted it when my kids were little, and Will loved to pet them. It has tall purple flowers that pollinators love also, since it is a mint relative. I love to look over at it from my chair on the patio, shining in the evening light. I promise I never look at it and say, “Gah! Lamb’s ear!” You can grow that!