Lamb’s Ear vs Mullein: Which is Better for Your Garden?

Have you ever stumbled upon a plant with soft, furry leaves and wondered what it was? Chances are, it was either Lamb’s Ear or Mullein. At first glance, they might look similar, but there are some dissimilarities that distinguish the two plants from each other.

In this blog, we will explore the differences and similarities between lamb’s Ear and Mullein, as well as their uses.

Lamb’s EarMullein
Appearancesoft, velvety leavestall, spiky stalks
Colorsilver-gray leavessmall, yellow flowers
OriginMiddle-EastEurope, North Africa
Height12 to 24 inches78 inches
Width24 inches24 inches
Flower Colorpurple, white, red, pinkBlue, Pink, White, Yellow
Foliage Colorlight green, silver-graygray-green, bright green
Zones4 to 93 to 9
PropagationSeeds, Divisionseed, root cuttings, or division

Lamb’s Ear vs Mullein – Key Differences

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) is a flowering plant that grows well in well-drained, sandy soil and prefers full sun to partial shade. It thrives in hotter climates, but it is sensitive to frost. It can be easily propagated by seeds or division.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a hardy biennial that grows comfortably in various climates. However, it should be planted at a location that receives full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types but prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It can also be propagated by seeds or cuttings.

Lamb's Ear vs Mullein - An Infographic Comparison


Plant Size

Lamb’s Ear has a clumping habit and forms a dense, mounded mass of foliage. It can grow up to 12 inches tall and spread up to 24 inches wide when fully grown.

Mullein plant can reach up to 200 cm tall and 60 cm wide.


The stems of lamb’s Ear are typically hairy and upright. The color of the stems can vary, but they are generally gray-green in color, with a woolly texture. The stems are relatively thin and may have a somewhat square cross-section.

The stem of Mullein is a tall, upright structure that’s covered in a layer of soft, downy hairs and can range in color from green to purple or brown. The stem of Mullein is usually unbranched, although it may produce a few small side shoots near the base of the plant. It can reach up to six feet in height and has a strong, sturdy structure that allows it to stand upright even in windy conditions.

Leaves – color, shape, size, and texture

Lamb’s Ear leaves are light green or silver-gray in color and are arranged in a rosette pattern around the base of the plant. They are oval or lance-shaped and are quite large, often growing up to six inches long and two inches wide.

The leaves have a very distinctive texture, as they are covered in a thick layer of soft, woolly hair that gives them a soft, velvety feel. Kids love to touch the leaves, which gives the sense of touching lamb’s wool.

The Mullein plant has large, oblong leaves with smooth edges or slightly wavy margins. Most varieties of Mullein are bright green in color and are arranged in a spiral pattern around the stem of the plant.

Mullein’s leaves are quite large, often growing up to a foot in length and several inches wide. They are soft and velvety to the touch due to the presence of small hairs on the surface of the leaves. The texture of the leaves is one of the characteristics that make Mullein a popular ornamental plant.


Lamb’s Ear flowers are tiny and unnoticeable, growing on spikes or racemes that rise above the leaves of the plant. The flowers are typically a pale pink or purple color and have a bell-shaped or tubular shape. They are quite small, usually only about a half inch in length, and have a soft, velvety texture due to the presence of small hairs on the surface of the petals.

The flowers bloom in the summer and are often not noticed by gardeners, as they are overshadowed by the large, velvety leaves of the plant. However, they do attract bees and other pollinators, which are important for the plant’s reproduction. The flowers of lamb’s Ear are not particularly showy or ornamental and are not widely cultivated for their appearance.

The flowers of Mullein are large and showy, growing on tall spikes that rise above the leaves of the plant. The flowers are typically yellow in color and have a five-petaled, open-faced shape. They are quite large, often growing up to two inches in diameter, and have a soft, velvety texture due to the presence of small hairs on the surface of the petals.

Flowers bloom in the summer and are a popular ornamental plant due to their attractive appearance and tall, stately growth habit.


Lamb’s Ear is a low-maintenance plant that is well-suited for a variety of garden settings, including borders, rock gardens, and ground covers. The plant has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, and its leaves have been used historically to treat wounds, cuts, and skin irritations.

Mullein is prominently known to treat a lot of health complications. For ages, it has been used as a natural remedy to cure respiratory and skin issues.


One potential drawback of lamb’s Ear is that it can be invasive in some parts of the country. The plant spreads readily by means of underground runners, and it can become aggressive if not kept in check.

Another potential drawback of lamb’s Ear is that it is prone to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating to form on the leaves of the plant. This can weaken the plant and make it less attractive, and it can also be transmitted to other plants in the garden.

The main drawbacks are its invasive nature, intolerant to shade, and succumbs to certain pests and insects.

Best Varieties

There are different varieties of Lamb’s Ear and Mullein that you can grow in your garden. We will discuss a few of them so that you can decide on the variety that will be suitable for your garden.

Lamb’s Ear

Image of Different Lamb's Ear Varieties such as Big Ears, Helen Von Stein, Silver Carpet & Hummelo

Big Ears

This is a large-leaved variety that can grow up to 18 inches tall and wide.

Helene von Stein

This is a compact variety that can reach a height of 12 inches. It has soft, silvery-green leaves and is a good choice for edging or as a ground cover.


This is a newer variety that has larger leaves and a more upright growth habit than other varieties. It grows to about 18 inches tall and wide.

Silver Carpet

As the name suggests, this variety has silver-gray leaves that form a dense, ground-covering mat. It grows to about 6 inches tall and spreads up to 2 feet wide.


Images of different mullein vareities such as Banana Custard, Olympic Mullein, White Nettle-Leaved Mullein

Banana Custard

This is a tall, upright variety that grows up to 5 feet tall and has large, banana-yellow flowers.

Olympic Mullein

The silver-gray foliage of this variety is quite similar to Silver Carpet. A fully grown plant can reach up to 8 feet tall. It grows pretty well in zones 5-11 in well-drained soil.

White nettle-leaved Mullein

This variety of Mullein boasts pretty-looking white flowers with elegant purple stamen sticking out. It grows well in zones 5-9. Height can reach up to 3 ft.