lamb-s-ear-stachys-byzantina-silver-carpet-What is Eating My Lambs Ear Plant

What is Eating My Lambs Ear Plant?

Lamb’s ear plants are a popular choice for gardeners due to their soft, velvety leaves and their ability to thrive in poor soil and sunny areas. 

However, these plants are not immune to pests and diseases, and gardeners may find themselves asking, “What is eating my lamb’s ear plant?”

Pests that commonly eat lamb’s ear plants include slugs, snails, caterpillars, wool carder bees, and white-margined burrower bugs. 

These pests can cause significant damage to the leaves and stems of the plant, and can even kill the plant if left untreated. Identifying the pest that is eating your lamb’s ear plant is the first step in preventing further damage.

In this article, we will explore the common pests and diseases that affect lamb’s ear plants, as well as the ideal growing conditions for this plant. We will also discuss how to propagate and cultivate lamb’s ear plants, and how to water them properly to prevent overwatering. 

Additionally, we will examine the health benefits and uses of lamb’s ear plants, and provide tips for preventing and treating pests and diseases.

Key Takeaways

  • Lamb’s ear plants are susceptible to damage from pests such as slugs, snails, caterpillars, wool carder bees, and white-margined burrower bugs.
  • Identifying the pest that is eating your lamb’s ear plant is crucial in preventing further damage.
  • Proper growing conditions, watering, and prevention and treatment of pests and diseases are essential for maintaining healthy lamb’s ear plants.

Learn more from a related article:

Mullein vs Lambs Ear 


Understanding Lamb’s Ear Plant

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) is a low-growing, spreading perennial plant that is popular for its velvety, pale, silvery gray-green foliage. 

The elliptical leaves of the plant are covered in dense, silvery hairy structures, giving it a soft and fuzzy texture that resembles a lamb’s ear, hence the name.

The lamb’s ear plant is native to Turkey, Iran, and Armenia and is commonly grown in gardens for ornamental purposes. 

The plant thrives in sunny areas and can tolerate poor, slightly acidic soil. It is also drought-tolerant, making it an ideal candidate for xeriscaping and rock gardens.

Lamb’s ear plants are relatively easy to care for and require minimal maintenance. They do not require fertilizer and only need occasional watering during dry spells. The plant can grow up to 2 feet in height and spread up to 3 feet wide.

While the lamb’s ear plant is relatively hardy, it can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Slugs and snails are the most significant pests that can digest and eat through the dense fuzz on lamb’s ear leaves, causing damage to the plant. Earwigs may also eat the plant, but the pieces being eaten off seem too big for such critters.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Lamb’s ear plants are hardy and easy-to-grow plants that require minimal care. However, providing the ideal growing conditions can help ensure their optimal growth and health.

Sun and Temperature

Lamb’s ear plants prefer full sun, although they can also grow in partial shade. They thrive in sunny areas with well-drained soil and moderate temperatures. In hot and dry regions, they may require some afternoon shade to prevent scorching.

Soil and Humidity

Lamb’s ear plants are adaptable to different soil types, but they prefer well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. 

They can tolerate poor soil conditions but may require some organic matter to improve soil quality. They do not require high humidity levels and can tolerate dry air and low humidity.

Origin and Adaptation

Lamb’s ear plants are native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, where they grow in rocky and dry areas. They have adapted to these harsh environments by developing thick and woolly leaves that help them retain moisture and protect them from the sun’s heat.

Propagation and Cultivation

Lamb’s ear plants are incredibly hardy and easy to propagate. They can be propagated by division, seeds, or cuttings. Spring and summer are the best times to propagate lamb’s ear.

Propagation by seeds is relatively easy. Sow the seeds in a pot filled with well-draining soil and keep the soil moist. Germination should occur within a week or two. Once the seedlings have grown large enough, they can be transplanted into the garden.

Division is another method of propagation. Divide the plant in the spring or fall, making sure each division has roots and leaves. Plant the divisions in a well-draining soil and water them regularly.

Potting is also an option for lamb’s ear plants. They can be grown in containers and placed in sunny areas. Use a well-draining soil and make sure to water the plant regularly.

Mulch can be used to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Lamb’s ear plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Fertilizer can be applied once a month during the growing season to promote healthy growth.

Compost can also be used to improve soil quality. Work compost into the soil before planting or use it as a top dressing around the plant.

There are several cultivars of lamb’s ear plants, including Big Ears and Helen von Stein. Big Ears has larger leaves than the traditional variety, while Helen von Stein has silver foliage and is more drought-tolerant.

Overwintering lamb’s ear plants is easy. Simply cut back the foliage in the fall and cover the plant with a layer of mulch. In the spring, remove the mulch and the plant will start growing again.


Appearance and Texture

Lamb’s ear plants are known for their distinct appearance and texture. The foliage of the plant is a key identifying factor, as it is thick and fuzzy with a silvery-gray color. The leaves are large and oval-shaped, with a velvety texture that is soft to the touch.

In addition to their foliage, lamb’s ear plants also produce flowers. The flowers grow on long spikes and can range in color from pink to purple. However, it is important to note that the flowers are not the main attraction of the plant, as they are often overshadowed by the foliage.

Lamb’s ear plants are classified as herbaceous perennials, meaning they die back to the ground each year and regrow from the roots in the spring. They typically reach a mature size of 12-18 inches in height and spread, making them a great choice for ground cover or border plantings.

When it comes to hardiness zones, lamb’s ear plants are quite adaptable. They can grow in zones 4-9, according to the USDA, which means they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and growing conditions.

Pests and Diseases

Lamb’s ear plants are generally hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases. However, they can still be vulnerable to certain issues that can cause damage or even death to the plant. 

Here are some of the most common pests and diseases that can affect lamb’s ear plants:


  1. Slugs and Snails: These soft-bodied mollusks are common pests that can chew through leaves and leave behind slimy mucus trails. They are most active in damp conditions and can be controlled using slug and snail baits or by handpicking them off the plant.
  2. White Cabbage Moths: These small, white moths lay their eggs on the leaves of the plant, and the larvae feed on the leaves, leaving behind large holes. They can be controlled using insecticides or by covering the plant with a fine mesh netting.
  3. Wool Carder Bees: These solitary bees use the fuzzy leaves of the lamb’s ear plant to line their nests. While they do not cause any damage to the plant, they can be intimidating to some people due to their size and aggressive behavior.


  1. Fungal Leaf Spot: This disease is caused by a fungus that thrives in damp conditions. It appears as small, brown spots on the leaves that can spread and cause the leaves to turn yellow and die. It can be controlled by removing infected leaves and improving air circulation around the plant.
  2. Root Rot: This disease is caused by a fungus that thrives in waterlogged soil. It can cause the roots of the plant to rot, leading to wilting and death of the plant. It can be prevented by ensuring proper drainage and avoiding overwatering.
  3. Nematodes: These microscopic worms can attack the roots of the plant, causing stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves. They can be controlled using nematode-resistant plant varieties or by treating the soil with nematode-killing chemicals.

It is important to identify and treat any pest or disease issues as soon as possible to prevent them from spreading and causing further damage to the plant. Regular inspection and maintenance can help keep your lamb’s ear plants healthy and thriving.


Watering and Overwatering

Lamb’s ear plants are drought-tolerant and do not require frequent watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot and can attract pests that may damage the plant. It is recommended to provide only 1 inch of moisture a week to the plant.

To avoid overwatering, it is important to ensure that the soil is well-draining. Heavy, poorly draining soil is not suitable for the growth of Lamb’s ear plant. Lamb’s ear plant prefers lighter, well-draining soil. Clay soil is the poorest draining soil, so adding compost can make the soil lighter.

In addition to soil drainage, it is important to keep the leaves close to the ground as dry as possible by using mulch. This plant does not like humidity or soggy soil. If the leaves are constantly wet, it can lead to fungal leaf spots, which can damage the plant.

Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation

Lamb’s ear plants are incredibly hardy and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. They make for a stunning ornamental plant in your garden, and their soft violet blooms and fuzzy, light leaves can add a touch of elegance to any space.

Indoor Cultivation

Lamb’s ear plants can be grown indoors in pots or containers. They prefer well-draining soil and should be watered sparingly to avoid overwatering. 

Place the pot in a sunny spot, such as a windowsill, to ensure the plant gets enough light. Lamb’s ear plants can also be grown under artificial light, making them ideal for indoor cultivation.

Outdoor Cultivation

Lamb’s ear plants can be grown outdoors in a variety of settings. They make excellent ground cover, rock garden plants, and can be used for edging. 

They prefer dry to medium-moisture soil and should be planted in full sun. However, note that they can be an excessively aggressive grower in rich soil, so it’s important to avoid over-fertilizing.

When planting lamb’s ear outdoors, it’s important to give them enough space to spread. Plant them about 18 inches apart to allow for adequate growth. Once established, lamb’s ear plants require minimal care, making them an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens.


Health Benefits and Uses

Lamb’s Ear is a versatile herb that has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries. Here are some of the health benefits and uses of this plant:

Medicinal Uses

Lamb’s Ear has antibacterial properties that make it effective in treating wounds, cuts, and scrapes. The leaves can be used as a natural bandage to speed up the healing process. Infusions of dried leaves are also good for colds, gum and throat infections, and asthma.

Culinary Uses

Lamb’s Ear has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that makes it a great addition to salads or as a battered and fried appetizer. The young leaves are the most tender and flavorful, and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Easy to Grow

Lamb’s Ear is a member of the mint family and is incredibly easy to grow. It can be grown in a variety of soils and is drought-tolerant, making it a great addition to any sensory garden.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing damage to your lamb’s ear plant is the best way to ensure its health and longevity. Here are some tips to prevent pests and diseases from attacking your plant:

  1. Pruning: Regular pruning can help keep your plant healthy and prevent pests from taking hold. Remove any dead or damaged leaves and stems as soon as possible.
  2. Deadheading: Removing spent blooms can help prevent the spread of disease and pests. Cut off the flower stalks as soon as they begin to fade.
  3. Propagating: Propagating your lamb’s ear plant can help ensure that you always have a healthy plant on hand. Take cuttings from healthy plants and root them in soil or water.
  4. Wilting: If your lamb’s ear plant is wilting, it may be a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. Make sure your plant is not sitting in water and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  5. Sun Exposure: Lamb’s ear plants prefer full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Make sure your plant is getting the right amount of sunlight for its needs.

If your lamb’s ear plant does become infested with pests or diseased, there are some treatments you can try:

  1. Insecticidal Soap: Insecticidal soap can be used to control aphids, spider mites, and other soft-bodied insects. Follow the instructions carefully and avoid using on hot, sunny days.
  2. Neem Oil: Neem oil is a natural insecticide and fungicide that can be used to control a variety of pests and diseases. Mix with water and apply to the affected areas.
  3. Fungicides: Fungicides can be used to control fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. Follow the instructions carefully and avoid using on hot, sunny days.

Remember to always read and follow the instructions carefully when using any pesticides or fungicides. Be sure to wear protective clothing and avoid using on windy days to prevent drift.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent my lamb’s ear plant from being eaten?

To prevent lamb’s ear plants from being eaten, it is important to identify the pest or insect that is causing the damage. Common pests that eat lamb’s ear plants include slugs, snails, caterpillars, wool carder bees, and white-margined burrower bugs. Some ways to prevent these pests from eating your lamb’s ear plants include using insecticidal soap, placing copper tape around the plant, and using companion planting with plants that repel pests.

What are some common diseases that affect lamb’s ear plants?

Some common diseases that affect lamb’s ear plants include powdery mildew, root rot, and leaf spot. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white powdery coating on the leaves. Root rot is a fungal disease that affects the roots and can cause the plant to wilt and die. Leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes brown or black spots on the leaves. To prevent these diseases, it is important to water the plant properly, provide good air circulation, and remove any infected leaves or plants.

Can lamb’s ear plants be toxic to pets or humans?

Lamb’s ear plants are generally considered safe for pets and humans. However, some people may experience skin irritation if they come into contact with the plant. Additionally, if ingested in large quantities, the plant may cause mild stomach upset in pets and humans.

What are some natural predators of lamb’s ear plants?

Some natural predators of lamb’s ear plants include rabbits, deer, and slugs. To prevent these animals from eating your lamb’s ear plants, you can use fencing, repellents, or companion planting with plants that repel these animals.

Why is my lamb’s ear plant drooping and how can I fix it?

Lamb’s ear plants may droop if they are not getting enough water or if they are getting too much water. To fix this, it is important to water the plant properly and ensure that the soil is well-draining. Additionally, lamb’s ear plants may droop if they are not getting enough sunlight or if they are planted in soil that is too compacted.

What are some tips for caring for lamb’s ear plants?

Some tips for caring for lamb’s ear plants include providing well-draining soil, watering the plant properly, providing good air circulation, and removing any dead or damaged leaves. Additionally, lamb’s ear plants benefit from regular fertilization and pruning to promote healthy growth.

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