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Stachys byzantina
Stachys byzantina

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Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

These mint-family members have the typical square stems and leaves in opposite pairs; foliage ranges from rough textured to furry. The species described here have short-stalked or stalkless leaves. Spike-like clusters of small, usually two-lipped flowers bloom in late spring and summer; blossoms are attractive to bees.

Stachys byzantina
Stachys byzantina

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Stachys byzantina

Native to the Caucasus and Iran. Grows to 1 1/2 ft. all, spreading freely by surface runners. Dense, ground-hugging rosettes of soft, thick, rather tongue-shaped, woolly white leaves to 4–6 in. long. Blossom stalks 1–1 1/2 ft. tall bear small purplish flowers; many gardeners feel that these detract from the foliage and so cut off or pull out flowering stems. Continued rains can mash plants down and make them mushy, and frost can damage foliage, but recovery is strong. Attracts bees.

‘Silver Carpet’ does not produce flower spikes and is somewhat less vigorous than the species. ‘Big Ears’ (‘Countess Helen von Stein’) has larger leaves. Flowers of ‘Cotton Boll’ are like little balls of fluff spaced along the stem. ‘Primrose Heron’ has furry yellow leaves that mature to chartreuse, then turn gray-green.

Use all forms for contrast with dark green foliage and with different leaf shapes, such as those of strawberry or some sedums. Good edging for paths and flower beds. Excellent groundcover in high, open shade, such as under tall oaks; space plants 2 ft. apart.

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